When Marian took the field last night against Panther Valley, the Colts were carrying three weeks of disappointment and three years of frustration with them.
The Panthers never stood a chance!
Losers of three straight games and marred in a three-game losing streak against their backyard rivals, the Colts scored early and often as they made a statement by cruising to a 50-13 Anthracite Football League victory against Panther Valley (1-5).
For the 14 seniors on Marian's roster, it marked their first victory over the Panthers, while thea 50 points was the most points scored in the 44-game series dating back to 1964.
"The motto this week was 'build on our strengths' and 'strengthen our weaknesses' and I think the kids did a real good job of doing that tonight," stated Marian head coach Stan Dakosty. "We weren't worried about who we were playing, we just wanted to go out there and execute."
And execute they did, from the game's first play from sacrimmage.
After receiving the opening kickoff, a play-action pass from Ryan Karnish to a streaking Paul Martin out of the backfield went for 56 yards and the Colts found themselves with a 6-0 lead just 15 seconds into the game.
"I thought if we got the emotional lift early on, we'd take the starch out them, and it worked exactly the way we wanted," added Dakosty. "We put that play in yesterday. Paul (Martin) was wide open, we hit him and it gave us a big psychological boost."
Faced with a fourth-and-one on its opening possession, Panther Valley opted to go for it on its own 44-yard line, but Mike Weaver was bottled up for no gain.
Five plays later, Martin was off to the races on a 27-yard touchdown run that upped the lead to 14-0 after a successful two-point conversation attempt from Karnish to John Julian.
Anthony Agosti then intercepted Weaver on Panther Valley's next offensive play and two plays later, the scoreboard read 21-0 when Eric Swankoski hauled in a Karnish pass from 25 yards out.
"The first play of the game they beat us deep and then I made an emotional decision going for it on fourth-and-one near midfield," said Panthers head coach Lon Hazlet. "In hindsight, I should have punted the ball away, but Marian was just more physical than us the whole game. They have a nice team and a nice program."
Agosti made his presence felt again on Panther Valley's next drive when he intercepted Weaver for the second time in a stretch of four plays.
That paved that way for Martin's third touchdown, a seven-yard run with 4:39 left in the first quarter, as the Colts upped their lead to 28-0.
"I really can't say enough about Anthony Agosti and the job he did against Brock Mitchell," noted Dakosty. "Those two early interceptions were big plays that really helped set the tone of the game."
Speaking of big plays, John Julian got in on the action when he hauled in a 73- yard pass from Corey Quick. Julian broke a tackle and raced down the sideline to give the Colts a 34-0 lead.
Martin's fourth touchdown (a four-yard run) upped the lead to 41-0 and the Colts then tacked on two more points right before halftime when Brock Mitchell was tackled in the end zone for a safety on a botched snap out of a punt formation, as Marian rolled into the break with a 43-0 lead.
"Panther Valley certainly had our attention and we were well aware of the fact that they've beaten us three times in a row," added Dakosty. "I guess that provided a little bit more motivation, but all in all, I really liked the way our kids played. I thought our team attitude was great, I thought both of our quarterbacks threw the ball well and complimented each other nicely, and I thought Paul Martin did a nice job anchoring the running game.
Martin totaled 147 yards on just 18 carries, including four offensive touchdowns, as Marian (3-3) rolled up 329 yards on the ground.
Panther Valley finally got on the scoreboard with 13 seconds remaining in the third quarter when Mike Weaver sneaked in from a yard out.
Marian's Sam Tomlin (5 yards) and Panther Valley's Anthony German (15 yards) added fourth quarter touchdown runs to cap off the scoring.