CANTON – Two years after Kirtland rallied from a two touchdown deficit to stun Maria Stein Marion Local in the 2015 Division VI State Championship Game, the Hornets could not mount another comeback against the Flyers on Saturday.
Marion Local (15-0) from Mercer County defeated Kirtland 34-11 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium to win the 2017 Division VI OHSAA Football State Championship.
It was Marion Local’s tenth State Championship, the second most in Ohio history, trailing only Cleveland St. Ignatius, which has 11 titles in the Playoff era.
It was also the second time the schools played in the D-VI title game in three years, and Kirtland’s sixth appearance in the Championship Game in the past seven seasons.
Kirtland (14-1) scored first when senior Dylan Aquila converted a 33-yard field goal, after a 14 play drive.
The Hornets’ defense then forced Marion Local to punt, but a fumble gave the ball back to the Flyers in good field position.
Moments later, Marion Local took the lead for good on Nolan Habodasz’s short touchdown run.
Habodasz’s two-point conversion made the score 8-3, and the Flyers added a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter, to take a 20-3 lead into halftime.
Marion Local quarterback Nathan Burns threw two touchdown passes, as the Flyers’ lead grew to 34-3 early in the 4th quarter.
Kirtland finally found the end zone in the closing moments, as Dylan Fulco connected with Joey Torok on a 6-yard touchdown pass.
Fulco then hit Mike Zeuli for a successful 2-point conversion, to close out the scoring at 34-11.
Both teams came into the game undefeated, and ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the final AP Poll for Division VI.
Kirtland and Marion Local each owned a big victory over conference rivals, who played in the Division VII Final.
Kirtland defeated D-VII runner-up Cuyahoga Heights in week 9, while Marion Local beat the small school champion Minster in week 4.