Fayette figures as more-dangerous in today's 'round two'

Marceline High football Tigers to host Falcons they beat 37-0 in September

Paul Sturm
Linn County Leader
Marceline High School football Tigers seniors Jaxon Schmitt (nearest camera) and Hunter Nelson put the clamps on Fayette star running back Garren Vroman for only a short gain on a first-down play during MHS' 37-0 home win over the Falcons Sept. 17. The Tigers will try to again keep the projected All-State running back in check today when Marceline hosts Fayette in Missouri's Class 1 state quarterfinals.

By PAUL STURM, LCL Sports Editor

When the Marceline High School football Tigers (10-1) line up against the Fayette Falcons (11-1) in today’s Missouri Class 1 state quarterfinals, while it will be their second meeting of 2021, it doesn’t figure to be as much of a rematch as these relatively-common “round two” events often.

When the Lewis and Clark Conference members squared off just over two months ago (Sept. 17) in Marceline, the host Tigers were a highly-seasoned squad of seniors from a historically-highly-successful program with most of the lineup populated with second- or third-year starters. The Falcons, while undefeated at the time, were only three games into a new season following a so-so season with a program with a generally-competitive, but rarely exceptional, history.

The game’s outcome – a 37-0 triumph by Marceline – was not a surprise then, even if the wide margin was.

Since then, while MHS encountered some injury/health turbulence – much of which it seems to have navigated its way through now, the Falcons have soared.

“Fayette was going through a lot of turmoil when we faced them in week four,. We know that we didn't get their best,” Mark Ross, MHS head coach, warns. “Their coaches have done a nice job of adjusting their offense to get their guys the ball in the right positions.”

The Falcons feature a running back who conference coaches voted as L&C “offensive player of the year” and who Ross believes almost-certainly will be selected All-State.

Senior Garren Vroman has had four 5-touchdowns game this season, ran for over 350 yards in their district-semifinals rematch win over L&C member Harrisburg, and had another big contest in last week’s 46-6 rout of Sweet Springs/Malta Bend in the district finals.

“Fortunately, we held him to 67 yards the last time we played them,” Ross recounts, “but we know that will be hard to replicate.”

The Tigers not only will have to account for Vroman when the Fayette offense in on the field, but also if and when they’re kicking the ball. The Fayette standout was conference coaches’ pick as the loop’s top kick returner, too.

Helping facilitate his ball-carrying exploits are all-conference first-team offensive lineman Chris Brown and second-team linemen Tyler Bartholomew and Malakai Graves, as well as tight end Logan Wiswall.

Providing alternatives when Vroman isn’t getting the ball – which isn’t all that often – is junior running back D.J. Moore, a second-team all-league pick, and senior wide receiver Dalton Collins. Quarterback Ben Wells was third-team all-conference behind Harrisburg standout Tanner Lanes and Marceline’s Jacob Stallo.

On defense, Fayette wound up with more first-team all-conference honorees than league champ MHS in linebacker Moore, lineman Brown, and defensive back Bartholomew. Graves on the line, Avery Powell at linebacker, and Collins in the secondary were second-team choices.

With the stark exception of the previous Marceline meeting, Fayette has scored prolifically, putting up at least 34 points in every other game and 40 or more in all except one.

Its comparative results against the other conference teams generally match or exceed the Tigers’, in terms of winning margins.

The Falcons defeated Harrisburg by 16 points in the regular season and 10 in the district semifinals (Marceline beat HHS by 14), Westran by 21 (MHS won by 16), Scotland County by three (MHS won by one), and Salisbury by 32 (MHS by 25).

Whichever team prevails at MHS' Chester Ray Stadium today will take on the winner of today’s Monroe City-Hayti quarterfinal at Monroe City in the state semifinals. Monroe City’s only loss in 12 games was its surprising 14-6 loss to Brookfield in midseason. Hayti is a perfect 11-0.

If Marceline – having barely survived last week’s district-finals score against Ewing: Highland – wins today, it would be on the road for next week’s semifinal game, regardless of the foe, since it would be on the even-numbered line in the state bracket in an odd-numbered year.