PIQUA – A doughnut for a doughnut.
Marion Local coach Tim Goodwin rewards his team with those bakers’ confections the morning after a shutout. For the third straight week, the Flyers will be feasting on those treats, after defeating Spencerville 35-0 in Division VI regional semifinal Friday night.
“Once you get to a certain point in the game and you have them shut out, you want to keep it that way,” Goodwin said. “Going into the game, it is not a huge priority.”
With the win, Marion Local (12-0) advances to the regional finals against Midwest Athletic Conference foe Coldwater at a neutral site at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Bearcats finish their year at 9-3.
Spencerville coach Chris Sommers praised the effort of his players and gave credit to Marion Local for its play.
“What a great team they are, and a class act too,” Sommers said. “Their defense is phenomenal and physical fast. They played with emotion, and they read their keys all night long.”
Marion Local has not been scored on in 15 straight quarters. The last team to do so is St. Henry on Oct. 20.
The Flyers defense dismantled Spencerville’s vaunted running game, holding it to 84 total yards. Bearcat Chris Picker was limited to 51 yards on 26 carries.
It was Marion Local’s defense that came up big in the first quarter to stem some early momentum Spencerville had gotten. The Bearcats manufactured a 17-play drive that began at their own 33 and moved the ball to the 23 facing a fourth-and-4.
But on fourth down, Spencerville was stuffed, and the Flyers took over on downs and what would turn out to be the game.
After the big stop, Marion Local scored on its next three possessions to go up 21-0 at halftime and extended its lead to 28-0 when on its first drive from scrimmage in the second half posted its fourth touchdown of the night.
“We were able to stop them when we really had to,” Goodwin said.
The Flyers’ ground game led the charge, with Brandon Fleck leading the way with 104 yards on 13 carries and two touchdowns. Leading running back Nolan Habodasz sat out due an injury.
“At a place like Marion Local, you can have a kid that is a sophomore and a promising football player and stick him out there and say, ‘Hey, he will do fine,’”” Goodwin said. “We felt good about Brandon Fleck, and that is the bottom line.”
As effective as the running attack was, it was Marion Local’s passing game that added the extra dimension that continually hurt Spencerville. Flyer quarterback Nathan Bruns was an efficient 7 of 11 for 158 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Bruns’ primary target was Nick Tangeman, who used his height to grab five balls for 125 yards and three touchdowns.
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468 or on twitter at @JoseNogueras1