Winners of five of the last six state titles in Division VI and VII, Tim Goodwin and Marion Local now stand on the threshold of history. One more and they tie the OHSAA record for championships with Cleveland St. Ignacius. And given their record of efficiency, how can anyone stop them in 2018?
Maria Stein – Not that the schools who’ve over the years stood in the way of their ascent care, but the Marion Local Flyers in 2018 stand on the threshold of OHSAA and Ohio high school football history.
For you see, the Flyers have won five of the last six state titles in Division VI and VII…and ten in Tim Goodwin’s twenty seasons as head coach. One more, in 2018, and they tie the OHSAA all-time record for state titles with eleven, presently held by Division I Cleveland St. Ignatius, who last won in 2011, over Pickerington.
Frankly, winning at Marion has become so commonplace that many around the state fail to appreciate their overall record. They just appreciate how damned good Tim Goodwin’s Flyers have been come November for the past nineteen years.
How good? Well, how many schools can claim to have been to the championship game twelve times…and won ten? Only Goodwin, and the Marion Flyers.
“It’s something you think about,” he said this week, of the Ignatius title mark. “But like everyone else we have things we have to fix. We have a long way to go to get back to where we were last December.”
And where they were last December was winning 34-11 over perennial power Kirtland in the Division VI championship game, a highly-anticipated contest that Marion dominated from the beginning. Kirtland, a power running team in recent years, and one that came back from a formidable halftime deficit in 2015 to take the Division VI title over Marion, was no match in their second title matchup.
“They’re a machine,” said Kirtland coach Tiger LaVerde. “They’re big, they’re strong, and they play with a confidence you don’t often see at this level of high school football.”
And that machine is prepared to roll again in 2018, which is what the area, and the state, eagerly waits to hear about Marion Local.
There will be some tweaks, and adjustments, of course. It’s high school football. Marion lost the requisite number of graduated seniors from last year’s squad, including tackle John Dirksen (University of Notre Dame) and Tyler Mescher, who helped lead the Flyers to the Division IV title in basketball four months later. Their offensive line, without Dirksen, will be a work in progress at season’s outset.
“Yeah, but that’s happened to us before,” said Goodwin this week. “But we’ve got some new guys that want to do it, so the fun for me will be teaching them.”
That, and filling the holes on a defense that pitched three shutouts in last year’s playoff run. Defense, for the last five years, has been Goodwin’s main point of concern in August camp.
“We may have a sophomore and a junior at inside linebacker,” he says. “And we have Darren Hays and Sam Huelsman back from last year’s front seven. But by week five we usually have it figured out.”
Where they already have it figured out…is on offense. Scoring 450 points last year, the impetus of that production is all back – Nathan Bruns at quarterback, Matt Rethman at slot receiver, Nolan Habodasz at running back, Nick Tangeman at wide receiver, and Max Albers…they’re all back, bigger and more experienced. Bruns, the overtime hero of the state basketball finals, has since committed to play college basketball at Findlay, but his 6’6″ presence at quarterback will be a daunting challenge for each of the ten opponents on this year’s schedule.
“I think we’re going to be OK on offense with all the guys you just mentioned,” smiled Goodwin. And Tangeman, who starred in last year’s Division VI title game with six catches, is back bigger, stronger, and more experienced. In all divisions of Ohio football, he’s capable of going and getting the ball with the best of them.
“He’s an impact player,” says Goodwin. “You have to account for him on every play.”
But to the point about records, and history, Goodwin is aware, yes, but chooses to be cautious in his confidence of fulfilling everyone else’s assumptions of the Flyers.
“I think a lot hinges on how quickly we come together on the offensive and and defensive lines,” he says. “But we’ve been in this situation before.”
And as in other years, there appears to be enough depth in the ranks to ensure competition. For a Division VI school, Marion will again dress its customary 70-plus players.
And if you’re wondering, their early schedule allows for what’s expected to be a generous break-in time. The Flyers open with Woodlan (from the Fort Wayne area) before turning to Patrick Henry in week two, Parkway and then Delphos St. John in week four before getting into the meat of their MAC schedule. By the time they get to St. Henry, in week five, Goodwin expects for things to have come together…like the past.
“If we do it this year (speaking of tying the Ignatius record) that’s great,” he says. “But if we don’t, maybe we have to come back another year and grind it out like we’ve done in the past.”
His tone leaves little question as to the priority in 2018. Tying the all-time title record would be nice if it comes. But for the time being…shoring things up between the tackles, and getting the defense in order would be just fine.