'Inside the Huddle' - Knights roll past Marion Indians on Senior Night, 45-14

By Cheyne Reiter

The Knights are starting to regain their rhythm.

After a 35-15 defeat to 3A District 5 leaders in the Maquoketa Cardinals two weeks ago, the Knights pounced on the Bobcats of Western Dubuque, 42-17, and followed that win with a 45-14 drubbing of Marion this past Friday night on Senior Night.

Things looked promising from the very beginning for Union as the Indians muffed the opening kickoff and were forced to start inside their own 5-yard line. After the defense made a stand, Union drove to the Marion 24 before being stopped. The Knights then sent on their field goal unit and kicker Brady Petersen drilled the 41-yard field goal to give the Knights an early 3-0 lead.

Following another defensive stand by the Knights, senior Wes Burnside had his number called numerous on the next offensive drive. After gashing the Marion defense multiple times, the Wes 'Express' capped off the scoring drive with a 7-yard touchdown carry. Just like that, the Knights lead climbed to 10-0.

Still in the first quarter, Marion's stagnant offense needed an awakening. Their star halfback, Colton Storla, moved into the shotgun at QB, also known as the "Wildcat" formation. The Indians sent their starting QB Cale Cannoy on a seam route and Storla connected with a 67-yard touchdown strike to get the Indians on the board, 10-7.

That would be the last score from the Indians until late in the fourth quarter, with the game clearly out of reach.

Nearing the end of the first quarter, Knights fans erupted in joy as sophomore Jay Scheel juked, jived, and then blazed past the Marion defense for an 87-yard touchdown score. The Knights regained their 10-point advantage, 17-7 at the end of the first.

Both defenses took notice in the second quarter and stymied the attacks of the opposing offenses. Union seemed to be well on their way to another score before Burnside coughed up the football and Marion recovered inside their own 40.

The Knights defense answered the call.

Marion's backup QB Brian Kinney was inserted into the lineup, and his first pass attempt sailed right into the numbers of Union senior cornerback Brenden Kuhn who returned the interception all the way down to the Marion 15-yard line with under 1:30 remaining.

The Knights capitalized on the turnover with a 4-yard scoring plunge by Burnside to give Union a 24-7 advantage at the break.

In a battle of the top two halfbacks in 3A D5, Burnside's yardage total outnumbered Marion's Colton Storla 103-21 at half. The Knights defensive unit was simply outstanding all night long.

Meanwhile, the second half saw more scoring from Union.

Burnside added two touchdowns in the third quarter to bury the Indians in a huge hole at 38-7. The first was a 1-yard touchdown dive before Burnside utilized his elusiveness with a 45-yard touchdown burst. In possibly his last home game of an illustrious career, Burnside finished with 175 yards on 25 carries and four touchdowns.

The Knights added a fourth quarter touchdown as Jay Scheel connected with Trev Hadachek who caught it at the Marion 20, shrugged off two Marion defenders, side-stepped another, and took it in for the 40-yard TD score.

As much as the seniors starred on senior night, sophomore Jay Scheel continued to make a name for himself. He completed 10 of 15 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown and added four carries for 97 yards and a score.

Junior Trev Hadachek once again led the Knights receiving corps with seven receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown, something he has done every game since being inserted into the wide receiver position.

Defensively, the Knights first-stringers limited Storla all night long. Josh Clark totaled 7 tackles with one being for a loss while Will Crees also managed 7 tackles with two being for losses. Collectively, the Knights defense totaled 10 tackles for losses, a key statistic showing the dominance that Union had over the Marion offensive attack.

With the win, the Knights 6-2 (4-2) moved into second place of 3A District 5 while Marion fell to 4-4 (2-4) and out of the playoff picture. Union controls their own destiny of hosting a first-round playoff game as they travel to Vinton to take on the Vikings next Friday night at 7:30 p.m., following the 5:15 Soph/JV kickoff. If victorious, the Knights will most likely grab the No. 2 spot and host either Williamsburg or Washington on Wednesday, October 26th.