Article Marion Local Steamrolls Dalton for 14th State Title, 38-0

It started well enough for Dalton, before Marion Local settled into a dominating performance over the next quarter and a half. The Dalton Bulldogs opened the game with a 9-play, 43 yard drive spanning the first 4:15 of the game before Colin Pearson's 4th down pass fell harmlessly incomplete. Marion Local lived up to their name, as the Flyers flew down the field on a quick 8-play drive, the penultimate play being a 4th down conversion. The next play, an 8-yard run by Kyle Otte, good for six.

For the game, Marion Local's Justin Knouff goes 14 of 17 for 119 yards with one touchdown and one interception on the day. While halfback Kyle Otte records two scores, with 66 yards on the ground on 8 carries and 32 yards receiving on 6 catches, leading the offensive unit. It was Marion Local's third straight state championship and 14th overall.

Stung by the first score of the game, the Bulldogs went three and out. Marion Local's Ethan Heitkamp would capitalize on the ensuing 5-play drive with a 1 yard dive into the endzone over the pile to double the Flyers lead, 14-0.


Dalton regrouped, and moved the ball effectively on a 10-play, 55 yard drive leading into the second quarter. Disaster struck when Griffin Bruns stepped in front of a Pearson's pass to the left sideline and raced 80 yards to paydirt. Carson Bills added his third straight point-after to extend the Marion Local lead to 21-0 less than 16 minutes into the game.

Marion Local would hold the Bulldogs to a three-and-out on the next possession. The Will Carmichael punt sailed 44 yards to Victor Hoelsher, who ran it back 64 yards for the second successive return touchdown for the Flyers. Buoyed by the two non-offensive scores, the Flyers dominated the close of the first half.

The Flyers defense forced two more three-play drives, amounting to a cumulative 7 yard loss for the Bulldogs. A late drive by Marion Local right before halftime adds to the tally. After a third and goal pass to the right flat to Otte resulted in zero yards, Marion Local settled for a field goal. A 19 yard field goal by Bills pushed the lead to 31-0 and into running clock rules for the second half.

Despite the running clock, Marion Local finds the endzone again on a six-play drive. Culminating with another Otte touchdown from 8 yards out on a throw from Justin Knouff. The rest of the third quarter and fourth quarter would move briskly. Marion Local would threaten late in the game, but Dalton's defense would hold on 4th and 7 at the Dalton 10 yard line.

Dalton's Pearson went 7 of 13 for 68 yards and the interception. Pearson's favorite receiver, Sammy Tomlinson, grabbed three passes for 11 yards. While Kaden Russell goes 37 yards one one reception. On the ground, the Bulldogs were led by Tomlinson's 46 yards on 6 carries. While Greyson Siders' would garner 41 yards on 11 carries. Pearson finds 19 yards on 12 attempts and Jarrett Hofstetter gets six yards on two carries. Defensively, the Greyson Siders led the way with 10 total tackles.

In addition to Otte's 32 yards receiving, Victor Hoelscher goes for 35 yards on 3 catches. Individually, Drew Lause for 26 yards, Griffin Bruns for 16, Daniel Everman for 11, Andrew Pohlman for 6, and Brayden Pavelka for -7 yards. On the ground, Justin Knouff compliments Otte's lead with 64 yards of his own on 5 attempts. Ethan Heitkamp goes 57 yards on 7 carries, while Kamden Eifert (2 for 10) and Drew Lause (4 for 7) would round out the tally for the victors.

The Flyers dominate the Ohio High School Athletic Association's record books. Their state-leading 14 titles span just 24 seasons. Winners in 2000-01, 2006-07, 2011-14, 2016-17, 2019, and 2021-23). In addition, the Flyers were runners-up in 2003, 2015, and 2018. Making this the Flyers' 17th appearance in a state championship game in 24 seasons.

In the 2023 playoffs, the Flyers outscored their opponents, 288-7 in six games. Their lone blemish a second quarter touchdown by Minster in their 28-7 victory over the Minster Wildcats at Lima in the regional semifinals. The Flyers look to reload for the 2024 season and are odds on favorites to go four-for-four.

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