The Marist football team has done the same thing since Alan Chadwick took over the program in 1985 – run the ball, play rock-solid defense and avoid mistakes. The War Eagles followed that formula again Tuesday and came away with another state championship.

No. 1-ranked Marist defeated No. 2 Jefferson 30-14 to win the Class 4A title at Center Parc Stadium. It was the 399th win and the third state championship for Chadwick, the others coming in 1989 and 2003. The War Eagles finished 13-0 and became only the second unbeaten team in Chadwick’s tenure.

“It just reconfirms what we’re doing in our program,” Chadwick said. “We know it’s the right thing. We’re doing a lot of different things on offense and defense, and when you’ve got kids that can execute like we want them to do, it makes it easy.”

Marist was opportunistic Tuesday. The War Eagles were able to take advantage of almost every Jefferson mistake. The biggest may have come midway in the third quarter when the Dragons were punted deep on their end of the field by Marist’s Charlie Flemming, who averaged 46.4 yards on five punts. Two plays later, Flemming gobbled up Kam Robinson in the end zone for a 9-yard loss and a safety.

“That took the wind out of their sails right there,” Chadwick said. “That safety was huge, and the punting was huge. He came up big for us.”

Marist kept Jefferson pinned deep and got its break when Starks fumbled and Tyler Hare recovered for the War Eagles at the 2. Marist overcame a holding penalty and scored two plays later when Ian Otten powered in from the 6.

Marist got its final score when Andrew Mannelly ran up the middle for an 18-yard touchdown.

“We got back to basics, coming off the ball and going straight at them,” Chadwick said. “We didn’t want to do anything fancy after we got that lead. We wanted to sit on that a little bit.”

Marist was led in rushing by quarterback Champ Davis, who ran 19 times for 59 yards and one touchdown and completed 3 of 8 passes for 38 yards.

Jefferson (12-1) was limited to 182 yards rushing, 150 yards below its season average, and seven first downs. Robinson gained 69 yards, but 67 of those came on one attempt. Quarterback Malaki Starks, a five-star athlete, was generally kept in check. He ran 25 times for 63 yards, thanks to 48 negative yards, and was 1-of-4 passing for 27 yards and one interception.

The balanced Marist defense got six stops from Justin Hartwell, five from Tyler Hare and Derek McDonald and four from Wright Formisano. Josh Moore had an interception.

The Dragons got a strong game from Paxton Corkery, who had nine tackles and two sacks.

“We’ve always said we can’t quit,” Davis said. “You’ve got to keep pounding them until they quit because we don’t quit.”

Marist’s first touchdown was the indirect result of a Jefferson mistake. The Dragons misplayed the opening kickoff and had to start at the 3. The Marist defense forced a punt, and it was returned by Will Garrick to the 12. Marist’s George Parker ran it in from the 3 on the third play of the drive.

The War Eagles forced another three-and-out and scored on a 12-yard run by Davis.

“That got us going, but after the second quarter we struggled,” Davis said. “Our guys just had to keep fighting. Nobody gave up.”

But Jefferson began to find ways to run the ball and tied the score 14-14 at halftime. Jordan Perry scored twice on runs of 9 and 4 yards, the second set up by Robinson’s 67-yard end run.

About the Author

In Other News