- Special Sections
WAPAKONETA -- Forced to abandon its usually-reliable running game against a Marion Local opponent that is no stranger to late November playoff football, the Minster Wildcats' postseason run came to an end in the Division VI regional title game for the second straight season.
Marion Local dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and used a touchdown on the final play of the first half as a springboard to a 28-0 win over Minster on Saturday night at Harmon Field in Wapakoneta.
Minster collected just 96 yards of total offense, rushing for 33 yards on 24 carries.
"It was tough sledding both offensively and defensively," Minster head coach Nate Moore said.
The Flyers avenged last season's playoff loss to Minster, when the Wildcats beat Marion Local 30-26 in a regional semifinal game at Wapak.
"We definitely haven't forgotten about it," Marion Local quarterback Adam Bertke said. "It lingers in our head. We came ready for them and had a good game."
"You could tell during the week that our players really, really wanted this one," Marion Local head coach Tim Goodwin said. "Our preparation was outstanding."
Minster's offense was shut out for just the second time this season and lost for the first time in five weeks.
"They just outplayed us today," Moore said.
Minster intercepted a pass on the opening offensive play of the game, but like the rest of the night, the Wildcats offense hit a blue and gold brick wall.
"The way our defense is playing, it kind of gives us a margin for error," Marion Local head coach Tim Goodwin said. "We needed it early because we gave them the ball on the first play."
Marion Local scored three touchdowns in the second quarter after both teams went scoreless in the first quarter.
The first two scores came on a pair of four-yard touchdown runs by Jake Heitkamp, who fought an ankle injury to key the Flyers' rushing attack. Heitkamp rushed the ball 24 times for 123 yards and two scores.
"He's a tough nut," Goodwin said. "I had full confidence that he'd come out and do what he could. That's what I thought and that's what we got. He wasn't 100 percent. I don't know what percent he was, but he was there when we needed him."
Marion Local then put a dagger in Minster's heart. After the Flyers stopped MInster deep in Wilcat territory and took time outs to save itself one final possession, Adam Bertke threw up a 35-yard fade pass as time expired for KellenGoettemoeller. Goettemoeller fought off double coverage near the goal line and fell into the end zone to give Marion Local a 21-0 halftime lead.
"That was a huge momentum boost for us," Bertke said. "I threw it up and Kellen made a play on the ball."
Bertke finished the game 10-of-17 for 160 yards with the touchdown and the game-opening pick.
"That was a nice bonus, let me tell you,' Goodwin said. "I'm sure it had to be a huge weight on them."
Minster appeared poised to crack the scoreboard with a lengthy opening drive of the second half before the Flyer defense stood up. After Devon Poeppelman converted a fourth down on a fake punt run to extend the drive, Minster quarterback Adam Niemeyer found a rhythm in the passing game, connecting with Poeppelman and Daniel Gusching. Niemeyer found Gushing to convert a fourth and four.
But the drive came to a half when on fourth and eight at the Flyer 19 yard line, Niemeyer was sacked.
Minster went 1-for-12 on third down conversions and amassed just six first downs.
Marion Local took the ball over and then converted a first down even after penalties put the Flyers in a first and 30 situation. Bertke capped that drive with an 11-yard touchdown run to go up 28-0 with 11:13 left in the fourth quarter.
Marion Local won the regular season match-up between the teams, 26-17.
Minster finishes the season 9-4.
"Despite the way we feel right now, when we look back on this season it's something to be proud of," Moore said. "I couldn't be more proud of our team and our senior class. They're a part of getting this program turned back around, along with that class from last season. They've made me proud and they've certainly made this town proud."