Teams aspiring to the post-season playoffs need to have the ability to shake off a poor performance if they want to attain their goal. And, so, when Jim Thorpe's Olympian football team dropped a 42-27 battle last week with Schuylkill Haven, Coach Mark Rosenberger's squad knew the importance of Friday night's encounter at home against the Marian Colts.
Equal to the task, the Red, White and Blue answered the bell in what one might say was "the first round," delivering knockout punches to Colts swiftly and near effortlessly in a 41-0 triumph.
"After last week, we couldn't get any lower," Rosenberger said about his team's second loss in eight games last weekend. "We were set to some back and play hard. I am extremely proud of every one of these kids."
In improving to 7-2, the Olympians looked very much like a post-season team, thanks, in part, to an electric start. After Khaaliq Lynch recovered a fumble on Marian's first play from scrimmage to start the game, the hosts delivered a blow to the Colts when QB Terry Moll passed 25 yards to Phil Schron for a TD just 14 seconds into the tilt. The first of five straight PATs by James Denny made it 7-0.
Keeping that momentum on its side, the Olympians tried an onsides kick that Ryan Boileau recovered at the Marian 36. Four plays later, Moll passed another 25-yard tally, this one to P.J. Johnson, making it 14-0 with 10:16 on the first period clock.
"Our special teams played great; that's a credit to Coach (Brian) Schwartz. He had 'em prepared for that play and that kick, and it worked well," Rosenberger noted.
But as "special" the special team played, so, too, did the Olympian defense. Unlike the 502 yards it yielded last week to the Hurricanes, the Red Swarm, this time, was exceptional, allowing the Colts just 12 yards on the ground and 36 via the airwaves.
"They (the defensive players) did an outstanding job," Rosenberger said.
Keeping Marian in check, Jim Thorpe enjoyed field position all night. Then with :13 left in the opening frame, Moll broke through the Colt line and secondary on a 64-yard TD run that upped the lead to 21-0.
"Jim Thorpe played well," understated Marian Coach Stan Dakosty. "We fell behind early and coulnd't get out of the hole."
Matters got worse for the visitors. In fact, in the final seven minutes of the half, the Olympians scored two more times. Tailback Shane Edwards (16-176) carried five straight times in a 64-yard drive, including a 31-yard run and a 17-yarder for the OIympians' fourth tally of the night, that coming with 5:18 on the board. After the Colts went three-and-out on their next possession, the Olympians set the table for the "mercy rule" to be in effect, tallying again, this time on a 65-yard drive. Initially, Moll passed 30 yards to Schron, although a holding penatly brought the pigskin back to the Marian 45. Three plays later, Edwards' 43-yard run came with 2:32 on the board and increased the Olympian lead to 35-0.
"Overall, it was a great performance," Rosenberger beamed. Besides the special teams and defensive performances, "Our offensive line did a great job too,"he added.
The Olypians added the final score of the night when Jon Fritz returned a Marian fumble 45 yards for a touchdown with 3:35 left in the third stanza.
The win was what the Olympians sorely needed after the Schuylkill Haven setback. "But we have a huge one next week against Lehighton, which is a good team," he said. "We have to work hard to get into the playoffs."
Marian will close out its campaign Friday at the Men of Marian Stadium against rival Tamaqua Area.