Warriors bowl over Hillsboro
Marion secures postseason bid with 44-12 rout
If you’re the Hillsboro Trojan football team, hearing that your upcoming opponent put up nearly 700 yards rushing in their last game probably isn’t welcoming news, especially when withstanding a powerful ground attack for 48 minutes and keeping games from coming unraveled the second half have been impossible.
In Friday night’s battle for 11-man supremacy in Marion County, the picture for the Trojans didn’t change against the visiting Marion Warriors.
Behind five earthmovers up front, miserable gusting winds had no effect on the Warriors’ running game, rolling up nearly 400 of 427 total yards in a 44-12 waltz.
The victory assures the Warriors at least a share of the District 12 title while the Trojans tumble to 1-7 on the year.
“We’ve got some pretty good people up front and they’re starting to gel a bit, that’s nice to see,” Warriors coach Grant Thierolf said. “We’ve moved the ball on the ground the last couple weeks, that’s what we like doing.”
For a team decimated by injuries, perhaps the best news of the night for the Trojans was the return of quarterback Kaden Kleiner, who had been sidelined two weeks with a foot injury.
Playing his final home game, Kleiner’s 230 total yards and 242 overall wasn’t enough support for the Trojan defense.
“Being a senior you want him to be out here on senior night and these last few games,” Hillsboro coach Devin Metzinger said. “It was great to see him out there and I thought he did well for missing three weeks of practice.”
Marion also was missing one of its three biggest weapons in the backfield with tailback Jack Schneider sitting Friday’s action out.
Evann Heidebrecht hardly disappointed filling in for Schneider, running for 156 yards on nine carries.
But it was quarterback Chase Stringer that did the real damage, punishing the Trojans for a career-high 169 yards and four touchdowns.
The Warriors used the wind to their advantage for a short field with Stringer putting Marion in the driver’s seat, capping a 7-play, 38-yard drive with a 9-yard touchdown.
Corbin Wheeler scored on the two-point conversion for the 8-0 lead with 1:42 left in the first stanza.
Even with the wind at their backs, the Trojans never had any better starting position than their own 35 until the game was well out of reach.
With five plays in the game going for over 20 yards, Heidebrecht’s first of two had the Warriors knocking on the door at the Trojan 22.
Five plays later, Stringer’s 9- yard touchdown and two-point conversion had Marion up 16-0 with 3:58 left in the first half.
Heidebrecht’s biggest run came after Marion forced the Trojans to go three-and-out on the next drive.
With the ball at Marion’s 20, the junior gashed the Trojans for a 79-yard run to set Marion up with a first-and-goal at the one.
Corbin Wheeler scored on the next play to help the Warriors open a commanding 22-0 lead with just over 2:09 still left in the half.
Kleiner completed 14-for-22 for a game-high 201 yards, going 5-for-6 and a hook-up with Jacob Funk for a 3-yard touchdown to get Hillsboro on the board just before halftime, 22-6.
Just as it has the majority of the season, the floor began to give way on the Trojans the second half with three of Marion’s five drives resulting in points.
Wheeler stretched the lead to 30-6 with a 29-yard touchdown and Stringer added the two-point conversion nearly 5 minutes into the half.
The deficit swelled to 36-6 at the 5:23 mark after Hillsboro was forced to punt after five plays, setting Marion up for its biggest play of the night.
Once again backed up at Marion’s own 20, Stringer this time bolted all the way up the middle for an 80-yard touchdown on first down.
Hillsboro’s lone turnover of the game was a costly one with Hunter Helmer pouncing on a bobbled snap inside Trojans territory.
Stringer put the finishing touches on Marion’s scoring, hitting Zach Stuchlik on first-and-10 for a 28-yard TD to start the running clock with 4:09 still left in the third quarter.
The Trojans avoided another turnover with a tipped ball finding its way into Darian Ratzlaff’s hands for a 30-yard gain.
Facing a fourth-and-goal at the 9, Kleiner found Ratzlaff for the game’s final score.
The 7-1 Warriors can capture the district title outright Thursday in the season finale in Marion against the Hesston Swathers.
Hillsboro will wrap up its season in Gypsum against Southeast of Saline.
Last modified Oct. 26, 2017