MARIA STEIN — Just how good was the 2013 edition of the Marion Local Flyers? En route to their third straight state championship they outscored opponents by 30 points and their closest matchup was an 11- point victory in which the Flyers gave up just three points.
On top of that they defeated Coldwater, the Division V state champs, by 34 points. A fourth trip to the state championship is not out of the question if the Flyers can fill the shoes of several key graduates.
Dustin Rethman takes over at quarterback for Pittsburgh recruit Adam Bertke. Last season the offense averaged 37.6 points per game. That number jumped to 43 points per game in the state playoffs. Rethman got experience last season not only in a backup role, but while Bertke recovered from an injury.
Running back Jacy Goettemoeller rushed for 852 yards last season while scoring a total of 22 touchdowns. Wide receiver Hunter Wilker had 820 yards receiving. Replacing three offensive linemen will be the key for the Flyers’ offense. The building block of Nathan Heckman (6-2, 220) at tackle is a good starting point.
“Finding replacement for some very good players who graduated,” coach Tim Goodwin said, when asked what his team needed to work on.
Eight starters return for a defense that allowed 7.4 points per game including a total of six points in their last three games.
Midwest Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year Jacob Kunkler returns to wreak havoc from his end position. The senior recorded 138 tackles and six sacks last season. Heckman, Peyton Kramer and Chris Lochtefeld all return for their senior season.
Linebacker Joe Schwieterman and an experienced secondary will back up a very formidable defensive line.
“We have quite a few players who have significant experience playing varsity football,” Goodwin said.
The Flyers open the season hosting Shawnee before hitting the road to Riverview, Michigan and face Gabriel Richard Catholic High School.
The Flyers have made it at least to the state semifinals seven of the last eight seasons and are led by a senior class that has never lost a playoff game. An eighth trip in nine years could be on the horizon for the Flyers in 2014.
“Although we have many players returning, we lost some great ones as well,” Goodwin said. “This senior class has played in many games. Now we have to count on them to be good leaders.”