MARIA STEIN — When St. John’s and Marion Local get together for a Midwest Athletic Conference football game, it usually is a low-scoring defensive slugfest.
It was again Friday night in Maria Stein but the Flyers made things even tougher than usual on the Blue Jays, handing them a 14-0 shutout loss.
St. John’s coach Todd Schulte figured it was all about missed opportunities.
“We had a touchdown dropped in the end zone, we missed a lot of tackles when we had a chance to get the ball back, we didn’t finish drives. You can’t do that against good teams,” he explained. “Mark (Boggs) stepped up and we had some receivers step up but it’s all about making plays when the opportunity is there. We didn’t do that and it cost us.”
Marion coach Tim Goodwin was pleasantly surprised his team shut out the Jays.
“If you’d have watched our first couple of games, we were a porous unit. We’ve come a long way,” Goodwin acknowledged. “We have gotten a lot of young kids some experience and they are catching on. Plus, having Adam (Bertke) in there is such a big key; he’s simply a stud.”
The first play for the Jays (3-3, 2-2 MAC) saw an 18-yard loss, perhaps an omen of things to come but definitely a sign that things would not be easy despite the Flyers (5-1, 3-1 MAC) being a youthful unit.
Neither team could really get much going early offensively as the defenses ruled, with three punts on the first three series.
The Jays got a big break when a tipped pass from the 6-6 junior quarterback Bertke (4-of-11 passing, 58 yards) was tipped into the waiting arms of senior safety Andrew Metzger, setting the Jays in business at the 24. They put together a 12-play drive that reached the Flyer 15 — including a touchdown drop in the end zone. However, on the last play, a 6-yard connection from the senior Boggs (9-of-20 passing, 111 yards) to senior Ben Youngpeter, ended up a yard short of the first down.
The Flyers then commenced on a 9-play, 85-yard sojourn, with all but one play — an incomplete pass — on the ground. Sophomore scatback Jacy Goettemoeller (24 totes, 149 yards) ran five times for 71 yards, including a 32-yard burst. Bertke (16 rushes, 80 yards) then finished it from the Jays’ 1, delaying a sneak inside right guard for the six. Peyton Kramer added the point-after touchdown for a 7-0 lead with 5:59 left in the half.
After a 42-yard punt by junior Troy Warnecke and an illegal block on the Flyers, the hosts commenced at the 6 with 3:57 left. Stymied by three penalties (25 yards), they finally had to punt after taking all but 10 ticks off the clock. Metzger gathered the pigskin in at his 15 and tore up the right sideline; he very nearly took it to the house before being tackled after a 51-yard return that ended the half.
A 20-yard kickoff return by Marion’s Hunter Wilker began its first second-half drive at the 26. They drove the field in 13 plays, 10 of them rushing (64 yards). At the Jays’ 10, Bertke rolled right and found Mark Thobe in the right corner of the end zone for the tally. Kramer made it 14-0 with 6:10 showing in the third.
The next two drives ended in punts as the third quarter closed.
The Jays then seemed to have a sense of urgency as they commenced at the 24 and put together a 15-play drive. Boggs was 3-of-7 (40 yards), including two connections to senior Jared Knebel (3 catches, 40 yards). However, his 4th-and-6 pass from the Flyer 16 was incomplete.
The Jays got the ball back on a punt and started the next drive at the 47. They gained the Flyer 24 in four plays but then a misconnection on a pitch left 2nd-and-31. An apparent 45-yard TD toss from Boggs to senior Will Buettner was nullified by a holding penalty, leaving 2nd-and-51 from the 35. Forced to make something happen, Boggs was picked off by Dustin Rethman at the Flyer 35 with 3:37 left.
Two first downs allowed the hosts to milk the erst of the clock.
“Give credit to Marion; they did a lot of good things tonight to win the game,” Schulte added. “They sold out to shut down Tyler (Jettinghoff; 12 rushes, 36 yards) and we tried to go elsewhere to take advantage of what they were giving us. We expect that. We also expected them to play the ‘I’ formation a lot; their two best drives the week before were in that formation. We simply didn’t tackle well enough to win.”
Goodwin felt the ‘I’ is simply part of good strategy at this point after adding the spread more to his team’s arsenal.
“If I had to put the best 11 out there right now, it would be in the ‘I’. That was true this week,” Goodwin added. “That might change next week; it depends on our opponent and what gives us the best chance to win.”
St. John’s heads to Fort Recovery Friday, while Marion Local is home to St. Henry.