The Olentangy football team fell behind early and never recovered as visiting Marysville rolled to a 35-13 win in the regular season finale Friday night in Lewis Center.
It was an extremely emotional senior night for the Braves (3-7, 1-4) following the tragic passing of beloved teammate Braden Markus last weekend.
In honor of Markus, a moment of silence was held for 22 seconds right before the opening kickoff, symbolizing his jersey number. In another touching tribute, the 50-50 raffle ticket winner also decided to give their winnings to the Markus family.
“It was challenging of course,” said Olentangy coach Mark Solis regarding the circumstances coming into the game. “As coaches, we had to make sure our players understood the task at hand and that we were prepared. I thought we did a good job, I think we are stronger having to go through something like this. I feel awful for the Markus family.”
Marysville (9-0, 5-0) came into the game with a perfect record and was the highest ranked team in the state via the computer rankings, but second in the statewide Division I AP Poll.
“I told their coach to enjoy the team he has,” Solis said. “They are going to make a run. Teams like that, especially in public schools, don’t come around often like that. We haven’t had a team like that since 2014 and 2015. We have a chance to get there though.”
The explosive Monarch run-heavy offense was powered the Powers family. Junior Colton Powers got the first few carries of the game and got the Monarchs past midfield and close to the red zone. Then, senior Gabe Powers, an Ohio State commit, stretched a carry left and scored from 23 yards out to put Marysville up 7-0 with 5:52 left in the first quarter after it went 85 yards on 12 plays to open the game.
The Olentangy offense picked up a couple first downs on its opening drive, but the Monarch defense imposed its will from the beginning. Gabe Powers broke up two passes on the drive and had a few tackles.
After getting the ball back, Colton Powers broke free for a 29-yard gain. It didn’t take long for another Powers brother to find the end zone as Colton Powers punched in a 6-yard score to expand the Monarch lead to 14-0 with 9:52 left in the second quarter.
The Braves’ offense could not get into rhythm in the first half. The stout Monarch defense had them out of sorts by disguising coverages and mixing in timely blitzes. On the Braves’ second drive of the game, sophomore QB Ethan Grunkenmeyer was swarmed by several Monarch defenders and the ball came loose and was recovered by the Monarchs at the opposing 10.
Marysville junior running back Griffin Johnson capitalized on the short field and converted from four yards out, making it a 21-0 game with 8:18 left in the first half.
A few minutes later, Olentangy looked like it had its most promising drive of the night, then Marysville senior Cameron Jones jumped a route and took the interception untouched 78 yards for a score.
The Monarchs made it a five-score game with 1:28 left in the first half, setting up the running clock for the second half. Sophomore Matt Krutowskis got in on the scoring summary with a 4-yard rushing touchdown.
Solis joked that it would have helped if they had “eight of their players.” He said he was proud of how his team handled the emotions going into the game, but acknowledged that their performance was not up to par, and the scoreboard reflected that.
On its first drive of the second half, Olentangy picked up a few first downs, then Grunkenmeyer was intercepted in the end zone after throwing a deep ball into double coverage.
The Braves prevented it from being a shutout, as they got on the board with an 11-yard rushing touchdown by senior Malik Wade.
Olentangy honored Markus again by not bringing the center out for the ensuing extra point, and the Monarchs respectfully declined the delay of game penalty. Markus was the team’s long snapper. Senior kicker Hayden Olcott, whose mother organized the gofundme for the Markus family, knocked in the extra point to make it a 35-7 game with 8:40 left.
The Monarchs shanked a punt on their next drive, giving the Braves the ball at the opposing 40. Olentangy senior receiver Ryan Petrone used his speed and agility to find a hole and sprinted through it to score the Braves’ second touchdown of the night, this one a 37-yarder to smooth out the scoring summary.
The gofundme set up for the Markus family has gone well over its $40,000 goal in just over four days and is still taking donations. As of Friday night, it is sitting at just over $57,000. Markus also wrestled and played baseball for the Braves.