Marion Local has won so many high school football state championships, the only way to keep track of them is by the differing years stamped on all its super-sized trophies.
The Flyers added to that growing total on Saturday. In the process they did the unthinkable by separating themselves from all those other title teams.
»» PHOTOS: Marion Local vs. Lucas
A 28-6 thumping of Lucas from Richland County secured a Division VII state championship at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. That padded Marion Local’s state championship total to 11. That also ties Cleveland St. Ignatius for the most in state history.
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Just as incredible, Marion Local coach Tim Goodwin repeatedly was asked if it ever gets old winning so many state titles.
“Naw,” he said, grinning. “To tie Ignatius for the record, that makes this one pretty cool.”
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How does Marion Local do it? That starts with playing in the best small-ball league in Ohio, the mighty Midwest Athletic Conference.
A 10-team affiliation that excels in all sports, girls and boys, Marion Local earned the MAC’s 35th state football title, and the Flyers weren’t alone in doing so this weekend. On Friday, Anna, the newbie among MAC football members, won its first state football title following a 48-14 number on New Middletown Springfield.
“Winning a championship is just amazing,” said Marion Local senior running back/linebacker Brandon Fleck, who scored on three short runs and rushed for a game-high 133 yards. “It means everything to this (Maria Stein) community. All the players, all the past players, everybody gets excited about it.”
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That began on Saturday with Dylan Heitamp’s 1-yard TD run midway through the first quarter. Fleck followed with two more scores to make it 21-0 and a likely blowout brewing.
Instead, Carson Hauger returned a kickoff 96 yards to pull Lucas within 21-6. However, two deep Lucas drives were undone in the fourth quarter when Nathan Ungruhn recovered a fumble and Charles Huelsman followed with an interception.
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Goodwin labeled it a fitting example of how the Flyers (13-2) did it this season. Keep plugging and overcome mistakes.
Lucas (12-3) coach Scott Spitler had another take.
“We were playing the bar of small-school football in Marion Local and going toe to toe with them,” Spitler said. “We’re not there yet. That’s what everybody saw (Saturday). We don’t give up; we just keep fighting.”
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It was the Flyers’ ninth consecutive state championship appearance. Since 2000, Marion Local has played in 14 state championships and all have been with Goodwin as the Flyers’ head coach.
The Flyers lost 18 starters from last year’s D-VI state runner-up team, making this as much of a refreshed Flyers team as could be. They made their lasting mark on Marion Local football.
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“A lot of these kids have waited a long time to get to play,” Goodwin said. “It’s just satisfying to see young people grow like that. We had a great senior class who wanted to do it. When you want to do something and you have a great attitude and are willing to work for it, good things can happen and that’s what happened to these guys.”
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