Story and Photos By Sean McNamara
RACHEL – In their final game of the regular season, the North Marion Huskies earned a convincing win over the Liberty (Harrison) Mountaineers, 49-7, on Friday at Roy Michael Field in Rachel.
A week ago, North Marion fell to Frankfort, 41-20, and in bouncing back from the setback that cost them a couple of spots in the Class AA playoff rankings, senior linebacker Tyler Curry explained that putting that game behind them and focusing on the Mountaineers from Liberty was critical.
“I know we needed to get our focus back on track because I think we went into (Frankfort) expecting to do our thing, and it didn’t happen,” Curry said. “That’s in the past, and we had to come out here more focused and physical and go into the playoffs on a high.”
The Huskies indeed set themselves up to go into the playoffs on a high note, outgaining the Mountaineers, 385-202, in total yards, with scores on all but two of their possessions in the game.
“North Marion is a great program. They’re established,” Liberty coach AJ Harman said. “Coach Hays and his staff do a great job, and they’ve got playmakers all over the field. Their line is aggressive and they definitely beat us up upfront. You have to give them a lot of credit.”
Those playmakers across the field resulted in six different Huskies finding the end zone as part of an effort that saw NMHS run for 324 yards and pass for 61.
In the first quarter, quarterback Casey Minor ran for a 45-yard touchdown to lead things off and was followed by Gavan Lemley and Aaron Hoffman, who ran for scores of 4 and 34 yards, respectively.
North Marion added two more touchdowns in the second quarter as Minor connected on a 39-yard TD strike to Brock Martin before the junior signal caller ran in his second touchdown from 24 yards out.
A third-quarter 2-yard touchdown run from Parker Kincell and a fourth-quarter 47-yard scoring run from Isaiah Sigley accounted for the remainder of the North Marion touchdowns.
After each touchdown, North Marion sent out senior Christian Polis for the PAT kick. Polis, who had not kicked extra points prior to Friday’s game, went a perfect 7-for-7, capping a special senior night.
“I’ve been practicing really hard, and it’s really nice,” Polis said. “It’s about the team, it’s not really about me. I like to get out, mix everything up and make the best of it.”
Liberty ran for 103 yards in the game and passed for 99, getting its lone score from Quinten Hillard on a fourth-quarter 1-yard run which was followed by a Jensen Dodd PAT.
Jayce Clevenger ran for a team-best 53 yards on 14 carries while Dodd led the way in total yards with 70 yards on four receptions. Quarterback Jace Bartley completed 7-of-17 passes for 99 yards for the Mountaineers.
With the loss, Liberty misses the playoffs and concludes the season 4-6. Despite the sub-.500 record, Harman saw positives from his team and hopes to build off of the experience gained in 2022 moving forward.
“I just think we’re young in a lot of very important positions,” Harman said. “Young guys learned a lot and got a lot of valuable reps. Hopefully, that leads into a good offseason.”
For North Marion, the win saw a variety of players contribute to the overall offensive output, with Minor rushing for a team-best 118 yards while passing for 61 more. Kincell and Sigley rushed for 55 and 47 yards, respectively, while Lemley ran for 40, Hoffman ran for 34, Trevor Mullett ran for 27 and Martin posted a team-best 39 receiving yards.
As they head into the postseason, Polis and Curry are ready to make the most out of the remainder of their senior campaigns.
“It means a lot,” Polis said. “We all work really hard for this. We put in the hard work and effort and try our best to come out and dominate and make everything go well.”
“We just have to keep practicing better,” Curry said. “I think this week was one of our better weeks of the season. We have a lot of seniors on our team. This is our last year, and we need to make this run count. It’s over no matter what in four weeks, so we have to be focused to keep going.”
NORTH MARION 49 LIBERTY 7
Rushing Yards; 324;103
Passing Yards; 61;99
Total Yards; 385;202
Fumbles Lost; 0;1
Rushing: NM: Casey Minor 4-118 2 TD, Parker Kincell 8-55 1 TD, Isaiah Sigley 1-47 1 TD, Gavan Lemley 4-40 1 TD, Aaron Hoffman 1-34 1 TD, Trevor Mullett 1-24, Robert White 1-7, Kile Hall 1-6, TEAM 1-(-7). Totals: 22-324. LIB: Jayce Clevenger 14-53, Landon Clevenger 8-27, Quinten Hillard 6-18, Brock Benedum 6-5, Noah Schoonover 1-2, Jace Bartley 8-(-1), TEAM 1-(-1). Totals: 44-103
Passing: NM: Casey Minor 3-8-1 61 yards 1 TD. Jace Bartley 7-17-0 99 yards.
Receiving: NM: Brock Martin 1-39 1 TD, Landon Frey 1-12, Tyler Curry 1-10. LIB: Jensen Dodd 4-70, Brock Benedum 3-23, Jayce Clevenger 1-6.
NM – Casey Minor 45-yard run (Christian Polis kick)
NM – Gavan Lemley 4-yard run (Polis kick)
NM – Aaron Hoffman 34-yard run (Polis kick)
NM – Brock Martin 39-yard pass from Minor (Polis kick)
NM – Minor 24-yard run (Polis kick)
NM – Parker Kincell 2-yard run (Polis kick)
LIB – Quinten Hillard 1-yard run (Jensen Dodd kick)
NM – Isaiah Sigley 47-yard run (Polis kick)