As Marion Local was dominating Triad on Saturday night, Cardinals coach Payton Printz had time for a short family talk with his son John, a junior lineman.
“My son said to me, ‘Those are grown men out there. We’ve got a lot of work to do in the future to be as good as them,’ ” Coach Printz said. “He hit the nail right on the head. They’re bigger, stronger and more of them.”
The Midwest Athletic Conference — or MAC is it is fearfully known — reinforced its reputation Friday night in three Division VII regional finals. Marion Local was at the forefront of the movement with a 50-0 victory over top-seeded Triad in a matchup of unbeatens.
“That’s probably the best team I’ve played,” said Triad senior Steven Feasel, the Southwest District Division VII defensive player of the year. “They were big, and they just weren’t big, they were fundamentally sound. I’ve never seen a team be that big and be that fundamentally sound.”
The Flyers (13-0) and their MAC brethren — Coldwater and Delphos St. John’s — outscored their opponents by a combined 143-13. The Flyers meet St. John’s next week in the state semifinals in their pursuit of a third consecutive state title and seventh overall.
The Flyers started with a 28-yard interception return for a touchdown by Nate Nagel. When the first half had mercifully ended for the Cardinals the numbers read: Marion Local 160 rushing yards, 206 passing yards, 366 total yards; Triad 13 rushing yards, 7 passing yards, 20 total yards. First downs were 17-4. Star quarterback and Pittsburgh-bound Adam Bertke did not play in the second half after a 16-for-22, two-touchdown first half.
Triad (12-1) survived last week despite injuries to key players, most notably quarterback Trent McIntyre and running back Chaz Adams. But the Cardinals had no chance this week even with two-way standout Tre McIntyre back for the first time since a mid-season leg injury. McIntyre saw a little action on offense and caught one pass for two yards. He saw significant time on defense.
Flyers coach Tim Goodwin says his team is in good health and playing well.
“The biggest thing this time of year is your health,” he said. “Triad had a great year and they get here and they don’t have their players. It stinks.”
McIntyre’s return was not expected, but teammate Gavin Head predicted it one week after the injury.
“He looked at me and he said, ‘I promise you we’ll get you one more game,’ ” McIntyre said. “Losing tonight — it doesn’t matter. To be out there playing with these guys one more time was something special.”
Without their star, the Cardinals won the Ohio Heritage Conference and went deeper into the playoffs than any team in school history.
“I can’t be more proud of the way they did things,” McIntyre said. “They faced a lot of adversity — they just like to prove people wrong.”
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