MFL MarMac clinches district title with win over Cascade

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MFL MarMac head coach Dan Anderson celebrates with the team following a 33-20 win over Cascade that gave the Bulldogs the Class 1A - District 4 title. (Photos by Audrey Posten)

MFL MarMac’s physical rushing attack wore down Cascade in Friday’s 33-20 district title-clinching win. Fullback Carver Blietz-Bentien led the team with 142 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. He also caught two passes for 40 yards and a TD.

The Bulldog defense held Cascade’s potent offense to just 13 points for most of the game, only allowing a third touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Here, Bryce Radloff (left), Kade McElwaine and Austin Schlee converge to tackle a Cougar runner.

Quarterback Zach Driscoll completed 8 of 12 passes for 128 yards. He had one touchdown—and scored another himself—in addition to throwing a pick.

Tristen Koehn trips up a Cougar runner in the Oct. 7 district game.

Karter Decker cuts through the Cascade defense with help from teammate Hunter Meyer.

Running back Wyatt Powell finished Friday's game with 125 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries.

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

MFL MarMac is the Class 1A - District 4 champion. The Bulldogs claimed the title Friday night, with a 33-20 win at Cascade. The win gave the team its sixth overall and fourth in the district.

 

“This feeling is amazing. We fell just short last year, and to come out here knowing it was going to be a tough game, a good, four-quarter game. They were tough on their homecoming and came out fired up,” summarized Bulldog junior Carver Blietz-Bentien.

 

“I said to our guys that this was going to be a little higher scoring game,” added head coach Dan Anderson. “They’ve got the two leading receivers in the district. They had the leading rusher who didn’t play tonight. They do a good job of staying on their blocks. It took us a little while, especially defensively, to get up to speed. But we did enough to win and got the district title. That’s all that matters.”

 

The game was a tale of two halves, as Anderson called it. Each team scored a pair of touchdowns in the first half—including a 16-yard reception and 4-yard run by fullback Blietz-Bentien—that left the score knotted at 13. 

 

The Bulldogs had a successful onside kick following Blietz-Bentien’s second touchdown, giving them five minutes to travel 45 yards—and take the lead before halftime. But penalties plagued the drive. 

 

“We had some drive killing penalties in the first half where we were moving it. We got that onside kick and I was like, ‘Perfect. We should be able to do this,’” Anderson said. “We didn’t score before half. Then they got the ball back.”

 

The Cougars drove within the MFL MarMac 20-yard line, but the Bulldog defense held. The effort included a sack and knocking down a pass, before cornerback Elias Hatt broke up a shot to the end zone. 

 

Anderson said it helped to use the end zone as a “12th defender,” to limit the room Cascade had to work with.

 

“They’re not going to beat you on a 60-yard go route when they’re down on the 15- or 20-yard line, so we could tighten up our coverage a little bit. These guys like to throw out into the flat, so I started bringing more heat down there too,” he explained. “I don’t care how many yards they have, as long as we keep them out of the end zone.”

 

According to Blietz-Bentien, this stand was an example of the players not getting down on themselves. 

 

“We knew they were a good team, knew they were going to make plays, so we just kept going and driving and we knew we could stop them,” he said.

 

MFL MarMac took a 21-13 lead with roughly four minutes left in the third quarter, on a keeper by quarterback Zach Driscoll. Karter Decker scored the two-point conversion.

 

A 46-yard touchdown by running back Wyatt Powell increased the Bulldogs’ advantage to 27-13 late in the quarter, then the team tacked on more points late in the fourth, this time on a 1-yard run by Blietz-Bentien. 

 

Cascade’s final touchdown, which closed the gap to 33-20, came with just over a minute left in the game.

 

The Bulldog defense tightened up in the second half, and limited big pass plays.

 

“When [their starting running back] went down, we figured they were going to throw it a little more. That kind of changed our defensive scheme,” Blietz-Bentien said. “We played fast and hard, and that’s what we do every game, and it seems to be working out pretty well for us.”

 

Kade McElwaine accounted for 12 of MFL MarMac’s 50 total tackles. Nine were solo efforts and 2 for a loss. Blietz-Bentien and Powell each racked up 6 tackles, followed by Decker with 5.5 and Tristen Koehn with 4.5. Austin Schlee finished the game with 4.

 

Offensively, the Bulldogs’ physical rushing attack overpowered Cascade. 

 

“We came out a little sluggish in the first half, but coach just really said we had to clean it up a little bit and keep driving. We knew, if we kept doing that, we were eventually going to put points up on the board and come away with the victory,” Blietz-Bentien said.

 

Noted Anderson, “In the second half, we were able to establish our run game and just physically pound it at them. The energy was going out of their kids because they knew they couldn’t stop us...We had more depth.”

 

Blietz-Bentien led the team with 142 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 22 carries. He was also quarterback Driscoll’s top target, catching two passes for 40 yards and a touchdown. 

 

“Kudos to my O-line,” said Blietz-Bentien. “Without them, I would not be able to do anything.”

 

Running back Powell added 125 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, while Driscoll completed 8 of 12 passes for 128 yards. Driscoll had one touchdown—and scored another himself—in addition to throwing a pick. Two receptions went for over 20 yards, including a 27-yarder to Powell. McElwaine hauled in a 21-yard catch.

 

MFL MarMac will welcome Beckman Catholic for the final regular season game on Friday, Oct. 14. Start time is 7:30 p.m.

 

“A little bit of the pressure is off now,” admitted Anderson. “We didn’t expect to play for the district title this week. We thought it would be next week.”

 

That doesn’t mean the Bulldogs won’t give the Blazers all they’ve got. Beckman won the district title a season ago and knocked MFL MarMac out of the playoffs.

 

“We’re not done yet. Our season isn’t over yet. We remember what Beckman did to us last year,” said Blietz-Bentien.

 

The goal remains to get to the UNI Dome, stressed Anderson. Clinching the district makes that road easier for MFL MarMac.

 

“Now, the great thing is we get to play at home for our first playoff game. If we win that one, we’re going to be home again,” he said. “We’ve got the mentality now that, no matter who we’re playing, we believe we’re going to figure out a way to win.”

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