The all-time leader in OHSAA football titles won…Marion Local has actually won so much as to leave people wondering if their record of accomplishment isn’t still a work in progress?
In the photo work room beneath the south stands at Ohio Stadium Saturday another photog/writer from the Mansfield area approached and said, “I read the story about Marion Local and Coldwater from last night. Are they (Marion) legit, again?”
Are they legit?
C’mon, man…that’s like saying what part of ‘no’ don’t you understand.
“You mean, ” I said, “the part about winning 13 titles in 16 title appearances?”
“Or the part about winning 84% of their all-time playoff games…something like 95 of 112 (without looking it up)?”
“Or are you questioning (coach) Tim Goodwin having won 86% of his games at Marion since taking the job prior in 1999? (302 and 48)…including 42 games in a row, presently?”
“Have you seen them play?” I concluded, questioning why so many media types are still naive after 25 years…to the incredible record of success that at this point has outlasted the turnover of those who’ve covered it. And yet, the questions persist.
“How do they do it?”
“Do they recruit?” this individual posed to me, Saturday…not in a derisive way. He just didn’t know.
“Sure they recruit,” I assured him. “From the seventh and eighth grade, every year.”
“You make it sound organic,” he laughed.
“It is organic, like lettuce from Whole Foods,” I told him.
There’s a certain wholesomeness with Marion Local football that doesn’t exist with bigger schools…urban schools…schools where Ohio State and Michigan recruit.
“How do you mean?” he asked.
Simply put, the goal with football at Marion Local is to make the most of those four years you have to play high school football…instead of marketing yourself from the time you’re a ninth grader through the recruiting sites, college camps, and Twitter, advertising your availability.
The all-time leader in receptions at Marion (Hunter Wilker, 193)…in rushing (Jacy Goettemoeller, 4,538 yds)…in scoring (Goettemoeller, 588 pts)…and tackles Greg Koesters (367) never played much college football, if any. The all-time leader in passing, Adam Bertke (6,272 yards), was recruited by Pittsburgh, but transferred back to Ohio to finish his college career at Findlay. Bertke is presently an assistant coach at Marion.
Offensive lineman John Dirksen was recruited by Notre Dame.
Beyond that, Marion players largely go to college with an eye on a future other than football. Doesn’t mean they don’t play football, but they get a degree in something more profitable, like business and pharmacy, and start to work early, building a successful life after football.
Of all the great Marion names since 1999 – Ryan and Nate Bruns, Niles Keller, the Bertkes, the Homans, the Wolters, the Flecks, Moellers, Rethmans, Ottes…the Huelsmans, Nick Tangeman, and so many others – none of them are known for what they did in football beyond Marion Local. They just made those four years count, and their legacy is what you read about now – what you’re going to be reading about. Collectively, they’ve made Marion the gold standard of Ohio High School football, even with grudging respect from those schools sending players to the Big Ten, the Big 12, and the SEC.
“You really don’t hear that much about them,” the questioner said. “Are they as good as usual?”
You probably wouldn’t hear about them. There just aren’t that many newspapers left, and those that are have precious few people to spare for outside writing projects. They’re busy covering their own local schools, so it’s no surprise that the ‘Marion Miracle’, a phrase Press Pros coined back after title number five, or maybe six…only comes back to light with each passing year and each passing tournament appearance. But if you’re asking if they’re a work in progress, well then, perish that thought.
Reason enough, in this case, to recognize the Marion Local Flyers as this week’s ‘Who’s Hot’ honorees after Friday’s 35-14 win over Coldwater for the 2023 MAC title, their 17th overall, and 13th for coach Tim Goodwin. And you’re about to hear more.
Their time is at hand!
Press Pros Magazine and sponsor, the St. Henry Bank, congratulates the Marion Local Flyers, this week’s ‘Who’s Hot’ honoree on Press Pros.