SHENANDOAH – After Marian started the season 0-3, many people began to write the Colts off.
With an abysmal offense that generated just 8.7 points per game and averaged just 128.7 yards of total offense, the doubters were out in full force.
However, football is often a game of momentum, and five weeks after the fact, the Colts have officially silenced their biggest critics.
With a 52-20 Anthracite Football League victory over Shenandoah Valley, Marian has run its win streak to five games and put itself right back into the thick of a crowded AFL title chase. It's the longest winning streak for the Colts since they started the 2006 season by winning their first seven games, and the 52 points is the most points Marian has scored in a game since they defeated Panther Valley 53-13 on October 7, 2011.
During its five-game winning streak, Marian (5-3) is averaging 35.0 points per game and is averaging 329.2 yards of total offense, which is music to the ears of Colts head coach Stan Dakosty.
"Our kids and our coaches never became discouraged after losing the first three games. They never stopped working, they never stopped believing, and they came out each and every day when everyone was doubting them and did one heckuva job. I tip my hat to our coaching staff, to our senior leadership, and to every kid in that locker room that has been playing their hearts out over the past few weeks."
Marian scored touchdowns on eight of its 10 offensive possessions, and the two times they failed to score where the last two possessions of each half when the Colts chose to run the clock out. Four of their eight touchdowns came on drives of three plays or less, and four of their scores were from 38 yards or more.
"Our game plan going in was to get on the perimeter and use our speed on the edge," stated Dakosty of an offense that had four different players rush for 50 or more yards. "We also wanted Dean (Richards) to throw the ball a bit today and I thought he responded well and made some nice passes. Tonight was just a good all-around effort by our kids."
The Colts marched right down the field on the opening possession of the game and an eight-yard end around by Nico Agosti put Marian ahead 7-0. Nico Agosti then hauled in a 44-yard touchdown pass from Richards on the Colts ensuing possession.
Older brother Anthony Agosti scampered in from seven yards out and Nick Sully added a one-yard scoring plunge to put Marian comfortably ahead 26-0 at halftime.
In the first half alone, Marian posted 210 yards of offense, while holding the Blue Devils to just 18 yards from scrimmage.
The teams exchanged touchdowns in the third quarter with each team scoring twice over the span of just eight plays. In a duration of just 3:07, a 26-0 Marian lead ballooned to 39-13 with 2:28 remaining in the third quarter.
For Shenandoah Valley (1-7), Kayin Herb (30-yard TD) and Shai Abrachinsky (66-yard TD) hauled in two long scoring passes from sophomore quarterback Ian McCole, while Marian answered with a 49-yard touchdown pass from Richards to Nico Agosti and a Sully 38-yard touchdown run.
Nico Agosti finished with three touchdowns and 155 yards of total offense (including three receptions for 101 yards). Agosti also added a 46-yard punt return that was one Shenandoah defender away from going the distance for his fourth score of the game.
"Nico Agosti just keeps getting better and more confident," added Dakosty. "At the beginning of the year, Nico was an athlete playing football. He's now become a real football player and a real threat for us whenever he touches the ball."
Following a McCole 10-yard touchdown run, which closed the deficit to 39-20, Marian closed out the scoring with a Dean Richards 55-yard touchdown run and a Noah Goldberg seven-yard jaunt. Richards is Marian's third quarterback of the season, as the sophomore has taken the reigns from injured starters K.J. Snerr and Lukas Damian.
"I though out kids played well tonight, especially offensively. We lost our concentration a little bit in the third quarter and our defense played out of character at times in the second half, but when it came time to shut them down in the end, we did," concluded Dakosty.