Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University where he pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeyes from 1971 through 1974. He furthered his baseball experience as a minor league umpire for seven seasons, working for the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA). He has written for numerous websites, and for the past fourteen years has served as columnist and photo editor for The Gettysburg Magazine, published by the University of Nebraska Press, in Lincoln Nebraska. His interests include history, support for amateur baseball, the outdoors, and he has a music degree from Ohio State University.

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There was no fanfare or fireworks, just a thorough victory as Marion doused an athletic Chaminade for the second year in a row in the season opener.

Maria Stein – The story of last year’s season-opening win for Marion Local over Chaminade-Julienne was entitled “Blue By You”, a play on words from the old Linda Ronstadt song, as the Flyers blew past CJ in sweltering heat, 34-14.

And despite a year’s maturation by CJ, a year of pondering that outcome – one that CJ coach Marcus Colvin at the time called “humbling” – Marion Local pretty much reprised the effort, the score, and manner in which they did it with a 35-7 rout of the Eagles in Friday’s 2017 season opener between the same two teams.

CJ, a team with obvious athlete attributes, in speed, size, and experience at quarterback with senior Ryan Peltier, simply “could not get out of their own way” – the words of Eagles coach Marcus Colvin.

And Marion, working to replace twenty graduated seniors from that team, and more starters on defense than coach Tim Goodwin would like to remember, simply played like a team that knows HOW to win, despite graduations and inexperience at those vacated positions.

But from a different, and perhaps more objective, perspective, Colvin’s team might have had the “big-eye”. They looked mesmerized, and perhaps a bit intimidated by the nine-time, and defending champs, who came out hot and promptly put CJ, figuratively, on the bus back to Dayton in the first twelve minutes.

After a forgettable opening possession, the Eagles punted and set Marion up in good field position at their own 40 yard line. Three plays later, Nolan Habodasz, a 6’0”, 175 junior, making his first varsity start, ran behind tackle John Dirksen’s wipe-out block and was never touched – 31 yards to the end zone for the score. And compounding the Eagles’ confusion, Marion faked the kick for the extra point and converted for two points, almost without contention.

On their next possession Peltier moved the Eagles to midfield, but then was picked off by safety Matt Rethman, who returned the ball into CJ territory, setting up a 24-yard TD strike from junior Nate Bruns to junior Nick Tangeman for make the score 15-0. And game, set, match…the thing was over!

CJ and Peltier came back to drive the ball to the Marion 10 yard line (aided by a couple of penalties), but the drive stalled, forcing a field goal attempt by Zach Bridgett from 27 yards. So when it rains, it pours. Linebacker Darrin Hays came roaring through the center-guard gap and blocked the attempt, sending the ball 15 yards back upfield.

No one coming...Junior Nolan Habodasz looks around for would-be tacklers on his way to a 31-yard TD run.

No one coming…Junior Nolan Habodasz looks around for would-be tacklers on his way to a 31-yard TD run.

It would set up a three-yard run by Henry Keller at the 9:48 mark of the second quarter to make the score 22-0 – aided by a 32-yard strike from Bruns to Rethman who stepped out at the three trying to stretch for the pylon. Keller finished things off on the ensuing play.

Five minutes later, Bruns connected with Rethman again on a screen pass, and this time he navigated through no fewer than five would-be tacklers to score and raise the halftime margin to 28-0.

CJ would score its only points midway through the third period on a three-yard run by Jonathan Bell (who ended the night with 74 yards), but never crossed the goal line again.

Keller scored the game’s final touchdown at the 3:44 mark of the third, his second, to cap things at 35-7.

“Leugers” is proud to sponsor coverage of MAC sports on Press Pros.

“Leugers” is proud to sponsor coverage of MAC sports on Press Pros.

As lopsided as the score indicated, it was, in fact, a very pedestrian Marion win. The Flyers amassed just 295 of total offense, but did it in the most efficient manner, aided by three costly CJ turnovers in the first half.

Individually, Nolan Habodasz, was impressive, ringing up 86 yards rushing on 13 carries.

And Nate Bruns, making his first varsity start at quarterback, did enough to leave the capacity crowd who witnessed it thirsting for more. The 6’5” junior completed 9 of 13 attempts for 122 yards and two touchdowns.

“We got off to a good start and that was a big key to the game,” said Tim Goodwin, who coincidentally celebrated his 46th birthday Friday in winning style. “They had to make the long bus ride and we wanted to jump on them before they get their legs going. If we’d had a more veteran team we would have made that a bigger point of emphasis this week, but with our team (experience) we were just trying to play football. No reason to make it complicated.”

CJ quarterback Ryan Peltier looks up to see a Flyer greeting party on this pass attempt in the fourth quarter.

CJ quarterback Ryan Peltier looks up to see a Flyer greeting party on this pass attempt in the fourth quarter.

Notwithstanding their 35 points and 295 yards of offense, the most impressive part of Marion’s win was their ability to quell the obvious athletic attributes of Peltier and the superior speed of players like Keshaun Owens and Marquis George. Neither could get in the open field, and when they did Peltier was under so much pressure he couldn’t find them with the passing game.

“Our defense gave up some yards, but we had a little different defensive philosophy against these guys. They had a good scheme that put us in some difficult situations. So we played it a little softer than we would in other games. But we played hard and we had some big plays that really helped us.

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Like Darrin Hays’ blocked field goal…..

“Yeah, that was a big play,” said Goodwin. “As it turned out we got the ball close to midfield after the block, so that was a big play by Darrin. And the tipped ball that Rethman picked off was another. Nate was efficient at quarterback, and we just have to keep working him with the group of receivers we have. He’s got talent, you can see that. He can do a lot of things.”

Nate Bruns uncorks one of his nine completions (in 13 attempts) for 122 passing yards.

Nate Bruns uncorks one of his nine completions (in 13 attempts) for 122 passing yards.

The agony of defeat is an old cliche’, but it was the manner of defeat Friday that bothered CJ coach Marcus Colvin the most. In his post-game huddle he called out his team for their effort and consistency. And to summon on Goodwin’s mention of a long bus ride back to Dayton, Colvin suggested that they use the time going home to consider how they might rebound with a better effort next week…against Miamisburg!

“We knew coming here that we had to play pretty perfect to have a chance to win, and we just couldn’t get out of our own way in the first half. The turnovers hurt, our inability to convert on third down, and our inability to stop them from making big plays. But they (Marion) had a lot to do with that. They’re a very talented team, even with the turnover in the roster they had from last year.

“We’ll watch some film tomorrow and see that we could have controlled the situations we were put in had we played better. We felt good coming in here. We had played well in our scrimmages. But tonight goes back to turning the ball over on offense and not getting off the field on defense. Those are the the things you have to do, and when you come here you have to do those things to have a chance at winning.”

So Tim Goodwin might have gone home, cued up some Linda Ronstadt, and savored the win and his birthday while knowing that 295 yards is merely scratching the surface compared to what his team could have done.

And if it’s true that a football team improves the most between week 1 and week 2 of the season…watch out Patrick Henry (next week’s opponent), who lost to Leipsic, 7-6, Friday night.

Forget about competitive balance. “Blue By You” is still topping the charts!

Darrin Hays' block of CJ's field goal attempt in the first quarter swung the game's momentum to Marion for good.

Darrin Hays’ block of CJ’s field goal attempt in the first quarter swung the game’s momentum to Marion for good.

Moeller Brew Barn is proud to sponsor coverage of "THE MAC" on Press Pros Magazine.com.

Moeller Brew Barn is proud to sponsor coverage of “THE MAC” on Press Pros Magazine.com.

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