BY JOSH WEIR
Repository sports writer
They are the big bullies of Ohio small-school football.
And the Maria Stein Marion Local Flyers are returning to Stark County with the aim of collecting more hardware.
Marion Local faces Glouster Trimble at Massillon’s Paul Brown Tiger Stadium on Saturday night in a meeting of 14-0 teams in the inaugural Division VII state championship game.
Despite identical records, the Flyers and Tomcats couldn’t be more different when it comes to résumés.
Trimble is in its first state title game, having more than doubled its all-time playoff wins with this year’s postseason run. Located at the edge of the Wayne National Forest, Trimble is the first Athens County school to make a state title game in 32 years.
Hailing from the rugged Midwest Athletic Conference in Western Ohio, Marion Local is trying to win its third consecutive state title
after winning the past two Division VI championships. The Flyers own six state titles overall, and their 85.2 postseason winning percentage is best in Ohio among teams with at least 50 playoff games.
“They have great athletes all over the field. You can tell that,” Trimble head coach Phil Faires said. “We’re happy to play what we consider — as of this time — the best program in Division VII. To get to match your program up to the best in the state in the last game of the year on the biggest stage, we’re just proud of that fact.”
The Flyers have had one game decided by a touchdown or less this season. They own a state-best 21-game winning streak that dates back to a Week 8 loss last year to eventual Division V state champion and MAC rival Coldwater. In this year’s rematch, Marion Local hung a 47-14 shiner on Coldwater, which is back in the Division V state title game this weekend.
Things are great on and off the field for Marion Local, and to hear head coach Tim Goodwin tell it, those two areas go hand in hand.
“We have great kids. We have great, strong families. We live in an area that is doing well economically,” said Goodwin, referring to Mercer County, which owned the lowest unemployment rate in the state in 2011 and ’12. “That just leads to stability.
“Our kids don’t go home and worry about certain things. They come from stable, two-parent homes where our kids can just be a kid. So I think that lends to some of our success.”
Trimble has the attention of Marion Local. Actually, the Tomcats have had it for some time.
While prepping for last year’s state title game against Newark Catholic, Goodwin said his staff saw some film of Trimble against Newark Catholic and was impressed. The Flyers coaches ran into Newark Catholic’s coaches at an offseason clinic and were told that Trimble would return most of its team in 2013.
So Marion Local kept track of Trimble’s scores throughout this season.
Said Goodwin, “It certainly wasn’t any surprise to us that we end up playing them.”