Marion Local Dynasty Makes It Double Digit Titles

Staff Writer

All week long Marion Local head coach Tim Goodwin and his players publicly said all the right things. This was a new year. Kirtland and the Flyers were different teams than the ones that played in the 2015 state championship, when the Hornets stung the Flyers with a second half comeback.

Inside the locker room that 2015 game, one Marion Local standout tackle John Dirksen said “embarrassed” the program, loomed large in the minds of the Flyers as they prepared to play Kirtland for the first time since. It even played a part in the halftime motivation for Saturday’s Division VI state championship game.

“It wasn’t a last year thing, it was two-year-ago thing,” said Dirksen, a three-time state champion and future member of the Notre Dame football team. “Playing against a team that beat you and kind of embarrassed your program, it’s a great motivator. It’s the last game and you want to go out on top.”

Even when Marion Local went to the half firmly in control of Saturday’s title game with a 17-point lead, Dirksen and the seniors wouldn’t let the team relax, memories of the 2015 game and its disappointment still smarting more than 700 days later.

“John pumped them up at halftime, let me tell you,” Goodwin said, laughing. “I can’t tell you what he said, but I’ll tell you he pumped them up.”

“You go into the locker room like we did two years ago and it’s dead and it’s hard to get it back going,” said the 6-foot-5, 300-pound tackle.

The Flyers were bigger, stronger and didn’t let up this time.

Marion Local finished off a perfect season and captured its 10th state championship in program history on Saturday with a dominating 34-11 win over Kirtland on Saturday in Canton, avenging the loss in impressive fashion in front of 8,062 fans.

Marion Local dominated in a one-sided game that saw the Flyers reach double digits in state titles. Goodwin’s squad completed its first perfect 15-0 season since they accomplished the feat in back-to-back seasons in 2013 and 2014 and are a state title away from matching OHSAA all-time leaders Cleveland St. Ignatius and its 11 state crowns.

“When you get it rolling like we have, you have talent in the right spots,” said Marion Local head coach Tim Goodwin. “You have coaches who have worked together for a decade. The parents know what the expectations are. You just have to keep working it. The players buy in and work extremely hard in the weight room so when it’s their turn, they’re ready to go.”

But even in a program in the middle of a dynasty like this one, it takes development, hard work and a sense of humor to get to the top of the mountain, Goodwin said.

“Sometimes I just say what I’m thinking and it’s not really all that nice,” Goodwin said with a chuckle. “I told these seniors when they were freshmen or sophomores and I was ripping on Dirksen, ‘Your class can’t even run isolation right. I’m going to take a year sabbatical down the damn Appalachian Trail when you’re a senior because you guys can’t run an isolation play.’ I was all over Dirksen because I like picking on someone who can actually do something about it. Our tackle Thomas Ungruhn just asked me out there if I was glad I didn’t hike the Appalachian Trail. I guess I am.”