Marion Local Wins 2016 D6 State Championship

Brian Smith
Staff Writer

The opponent was different, but the scenario began unfolding much like it did a season ago at the Horseshoe for the Marion Local football team. The Flyers' big first-half lead in the Division VI state championship game was disappearing fast in the second half against a hard-charging Chagrin Valley Conference team.

This time Marion Local's defense refused to let the lead and a championship slip away.

A season after Kirtland rallied to beat the Flyers in this same game inside the historic Horseshoe, Marion Local staved off Cuyahoga Heights in a thrilling 21-17 win on Friday in Columbus on the back of a defense that carried the Flyers throughout the season and delivered in the biggest moments on Friday.

"It had to be going through our minds," Duane Leugers said about the memory of last year's second-half loss to Kirtland. "It was going through my mind. Your heart's beating fast, your blood is flowing. But we had to go out there and keep playing defense the way we did. Our defense kept us in this game."

The game appeared to be all Flyers through one half.

Marion Local led 21-3 with three straight first-half touchdowns — a Nate Moeller 1-yard run, and a 1-yard and 22-yard Duane Leugers runs. One of Leugers' touchdown runs capped a mammoth 19-play, 99-yard scoring drive that took up 9:40 on the clock.

But Cuyahoga Heights shut out the Flyers in the second half while blocking a punt, intercepting a pass and creating two fumbles and recoveries. Marion Local had to stop the Redskins on a last-minute drive that ended when the Flyers knocked down a long pass on fourth and 22.

"We felt really good at halftime," Marion Local head coach Tim Goodwin said. "That sounded really familiar. We had chances to play better in the second half, but you have to give credit to Cuyahoga Heights. They really did well and we had way too many turnovers, but we were obviously able to make enough big plays at the end with an interception and a couple of sacks."

The championship is Marion Local's ninth football championship — tied for the second most by any program in Ohio history. The Flyers have now won five of the last six championships in their division.