By Anthony Jones, Reporter
The Triad Knights football team defeated the Marion Wildcats this past week to advance in the IHSA State Playoffs. The win was Triad’s first in the playoffs since defeating Geneseo in 2016. The victory means the Knights will move on to play the Sacred Heart-Griffen Cyclones out of Springfield next week.
Triad’s game against Marion started off with a Knights kickoff. Shortly afterwards, Anthony LaRue intercepted a pass and returned it back to Marion’s 25 yard line. The visiting Knights earned the first points of the game with a rushing touchdown by Logan Wongler. Travis Speer booted an extra point to take a 7-0 lead.
The next drive, Triad’s defensive unit forced a Marion punt to regain possession for their offense. Triad scored again on a 15 yard passing touchdown to Luke Foreman, which was set up by a solid block by Devin Wilkins. Speer converted another extra point to extend the lead to 14.
Marion responded on their next drive with a 25 yard throw to score their first points of the game. The home team attempted a two point conversion but it failed so Marion still trailed 14-6. That score held for the remainder of the first quarter.
LaRue scored the first points of the second quarter with a 60 yard interception return for a touchdown. This gave him his second interception of the day. Triad missed the extra point attempt, so they led 20-12.
The Wildcats responded yet again with a 3 minute scoring drive. Marion earned their score on a 20 yard rushing play. Geno Riggar made an outstanding play on Marion’s ensuing two point conversion attempt when he intercepted the pass to maintain Triad’s 20-12 lead.
Triad’s offense was forced to punt quickly after their subsequent drive on offense. Marion set up for a punt of their own shortly after, but the Knights blocked it and took over at Marion’s 27 yard line.However, the Knights fumbled a shorthwile later to give Marion the ball back for the rest of the half.
Josh Edison started off the second half with a bang for Triad by returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Speer booted an extra point try to take a 27-12 advantage. Marion responded with a kick return td of their own however to counter Triad. A successful two point conversion meant the Wildcats trailed 27-20.
The Knights tooj the first offensive drive of the half down to their opponent’s 35 yard line. Unfortunately for them, they turned the ball over on downs there to give Marion the ball back. The Wildcat’s offense was quickly stifled to force them to punt the ball back to Triad. However, Edison made another huge play on special teams by blocking the punt to set Triad up at Marion’s 25 yard line.
Sam Yager took advantage for the visiting offense with a thirteen yard touchdown carry. Yet another Speer extra point was converted to take a 34-20 lead. The Wildcats made yet another quick strike to respond in the form of a 60 yard touchdown pass. Another successful rushing two point try made the score 34-28, in Triad’s favor.
Foreman delivered another huge form for Triad’s special teams on the day by returning the ensuing kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown. Speer knocked another extra point through the uprights to give his squad a 41-20 advantage.
Marion received the ball for their next drive at their own 27 yard line. The third quarter expired before anything major could happen on the drive. After the quick change of directions, LaRue snagged his third interception of the day with a great play on a ball in the air.
Yager wasted no time on the next drive as he started it out with a long carry down to Marion’s 15 yard line. On the next play, he ran the ball in from there for his second score of the day. Speer booted another extra point, which ended up on Marion’s roof, to take a 48-20 lead.
Marion tried to respond on their ensuing drive, but the Knight’s defense forced them to turn the ball over on downs. Triad marched down the field quickly and Foreman scored his third touchdown of the day to take a 54-20 lead. Speer’s trusty leg converted yet another point after try to go up 55-20.
Triad’s defense forced a punt on their next outing to regain possession with 4 minutes left in the contest. The Knights offense managed to run out the clock on the game with big runs by both Kevin Pottoroff and Sam Prange.
The Triad Knights football team’s win means they will move on to play the 11 seed Sacred Heart-Griffen Cyclones next week on the road in Springfield. The game will be played on Saturday at 2 p.m.
The SHG Cyclones are 7-3 on the season and beat Morris last week in an upset victory by a score of 43-35. SHG has been a high scoring team in all of their games this year, but they have surrendered a lot of points on defense as well. They have no common opponents with Triad thus far to compare.
Their quarterback Isiah Thompson (#1) is talented with both his legs and his arm. He also throws left handed and is a good kick returner as well.One of his favorite receivers is Bradyn Smith (#85). They have a lightning quick running back named Alex Sweetland (#2) that is difficult to tackle in space.
If Triad wins, they will play the winner of Rochester at Highland. The Knights would be guaranteed a home contest against either of those two opponents.