DEWITT — Watching his sophomore team drop a 42-7 decision to Central DeWitt, Marion head football coach Tony Perkins lamented his varsity team's lack of depth, due in large part to the unbelievable string of bad luck which has resulted in seven of his players suffering from a broken hand.

The big thing his team has going for it, according to the Indian coach, was the talent of his skill players. That was apparent as Perkins' team dominated the two-time defending district champion Sabers 49-21 on a beautiful September Homecoming Friday evening in DeWitt. As for the lack of depth, it never came into play thanks to a skillful job of leading his team by Marion senior quarterback Dalton Combs and the generosity of the DeWitt offense, which turned the ball over five times.

Combs finished with 179 passing yards on 13 completions, three of which resulted in touchdowns. Four of his completions came on third-down plays with each resulting in a first down. Two of the four were killers as far as the Sabers were concerned. The first came early in the third quarter. Facing a third-and-17 situation after being sacked by Ben Comer and Dustin Petersen on second down, Combs connected with his tailback Logan Pickering for a 33-yard completion, giving the Indians a first down at the DeWitt 10. Three plays later Colton Storla's one-yard run gave the visitors a 27-7 lead. Going for two, Combs connected with Ryan Hubbell upping Marion's lead to 29-7.

Combs' second dagger to the Sabers came early in the fourth quarter, not long after Brennan Ketelsen's five-yard scoring run cut the Marion lead to 29-13, giving the Sabers' a glimmer of hope. Facing a third-and-15, after another Saber sack - this one by Anthony Burke - Combs lofted a soft pass over the outstretched hands of a DeWitt defender to Hubbell, who then ran untouched into the end zone, completing a 45-yard scoring play.

The loss was the first regular-season setback for the Sabers since week two of the 2007 season and it was their first district loss since the 2006 season finale. The importance of the win for his program was not lost on Perkins, who told his team after the game, “You have set yourself up for a district championship.”

While his team controlled the game from a physical standpoint, Perkins credited the mental approach of his team for the win.

“The biggest thing about tonight's game was the kids believed in themselves and played with heart. That is something they hadn't done before tonight,” he noted. “Our offense kept DeWitt off balance all night. Dylan (Combs) came out and had a nice game, and our offensive line was absolutely amazing. I thought we played a flawless game.”

On the other side of the field, flawless was not part of Saber head coach Kurt Kreiter's assessment of his team.

“Our tackling was atrocious,” Kreiter said. “Something I don't like to say is the other team wanted it more, but tonight Marion wanted it more than we did. One thing I talked to the kids about afterward was we need a little less talking and a lot more action. After the first two weeks I was pleasantly surprised with how far along we were as a team, but it was obvious tonight how far we have to go. This was a big reality check for us.

“On a positive note, it was a beautiful night for a DeWitt-Marion football game. We had a great crowd on a great night to play football.”

The Sabers will look to start a new winning streak next Friday when they travel to Mount Vernon, looking to even their district mark at 1-1 and improve their season record to 3-1 with a win over the Mustangs.

This Week's Circulars