HEGINS Tri-Valley is moving on exactly where it hoped to go. And in some ways, so is Marian Catholic.
The Bulldogs won Saturday's District 11 Class A semifinal, 28-13, and advance to next week's title game.
The Colts, which made their first playoff appearance since 2008, head into the offseason with their program moving in the right direction.
"We just didn't make plays and they did," said Marian head coach Stan Dakosty. "They have a great team. They've won 10 games for a reason. You don't play any bad teams in the playoffs"
"I just can't say enough about my football team. My seniors, outstanding job. They put us back on the map, 8-3 is a great record.
Marian went toe-to-toe with the Bulldogs in the first half, giving up an early touchdown then tying the game with a long drive at the end of the first half.
But the Bulldogs started finishing drives in the second half to open up a three-score lead.
"We shot ourselves in the foot on a couple things in the first half," said Tri-Valley head coach Mike Kogut. "Our kids stepped it up to the next level in the second half. Our defense held a very high-powered offense in check. I'm very proud of the effort of our kids."
The Bulldogs needed just five plays to go 73 yards on their first drive, scoring on a 13-yard run by Blake Bowman with 9:58 left in the first half.
Tri Valley sustained two other first-half drives. One ended on a fumble 37 yards from pay dirt after nine plays. Another went 74 yards and 11 plays, but ended on a dropped pass on fourth-and-goal from the six with 4:51 left in the first half.
Marian took over at its own 6-yard line and drove the length of the field before Dylan Quirk plunged in from two yards out to tie the game at 7-7 with 37 seconds left in the first half.
The Colts got the ball back to start the second half, but a reinvigorated Bulldog defense stopped that drive after six plays and 17 yards.
Tri Valley took over and mounted a back-breaking 11-play, 74-yard drive that ended with Bowman's second TD, a six-yard run with 1:07 left in the third quarter.
"That was huge," said Kogut. "They had momentum. We were like 'we've got to get the momentum back' and we did. We got that real big stop and then we went down and scored. That was a really big momentum shift ."
After another defense stop and fumbles by each team, Tri Valley marched to its quickest touchdown drive, going 60 yards on six plays, capped by Dalton Miller's 34-yard pass to Hunter Harlan for a 21-0 lead with 7:24 left in the game.
The Bulldogs added another, a five-yard Miller run for a 28-0 lead with 2:34 left.
The Colts got a late score when Eric Swankoski hauled in a 17-yard pass from Corry Quick with 37 seconds left in the game.
Bowman finished with a game-high 215 rushing yards, while Marian was led by Quirk with 138.
Dakosty, although disappointed his team lost and the season was over, heaped praise upon his staff and his team, especially the senior class, for everything they did to make this a successful season in Hometown.
"Our senior class really led the way," he said. "Their dedication is incredible. Those kids did everything we've asked of them. We'll miss them big time. I feel bad we lost, but I really enjoyed coaching these guys and it's been a great experience. Those kids did everything we've asked of them. As a head coach I salute my seniors, my coaches and my players for putting Marian football back on the map."