Gabe Powers (36) of MHS picks up yardage against Springfield. The Monarchs finished the 2021 season as regional runners-up. (Journal-Tribune photo by Chad Williamson)
The Marysville High School football team took, in the words of head coach Brent Johnson, a big “step forward” during the 2021 season.
The Monarchs’ campaign came to an end last Friday during the Division I regional championship contest.
The 27-0 loss to Springfield, however, shouldn’t detract from the type of year the Monarchs completed.
“After the 2020 season, the guys coming back were really dialed in to make this a special year,” said Johnson.
“It was fun watching all their hard work during the off-season and seeing them rewarded for it.”
Marysville ran the table during the regular season with a 9-0 record.
The only close game during that stretch was a 21-14 overtime triumph over Hilliard Darby.
The undefeated regular season not only allowed MHS to defend its Ohio Capital Conference Cardinal Division championship, but also earned it a No. 1 seed in D-I’s Region 2.
The first three playoff games presented no challenge to Marysville with respective 49-7, 42-6 and 49-14 verdicts over Delaware Hayes, Perrysburg and Toledo Whitmer.
The Monarchs hosted Hayes and Perrysburg for the post-season.
Johnson said the team’s success can be attributed to various factors.
“Our senior class provided outstanding leadership and the younger guys stepped up in their roles,” he said. “This was a tight senior class and everyone followed them.”
The seniors were led by linebacker-running back Gabe Powers, who has committed to The Ohio State Buckeyes.
“It was fun to coach a Power 5 (collegiate) athlete,” said Johnson. “Gabe has a great work ethic and we will miss him.”
Powers, however, always put the team ahead of himself, said the coach.
“Gabe never felt this was about him,” said Johnson. “It was always about the team.”
Other seniors who played huge roles in MHS’ success were, among others, offensive lineman Gavin Rohrs, defensive linemen Ben Bickerstaff, Andrew Bentz and Erryl Will, running back-defensive back Tanner Powers and receiver-defensive back Cameron Jones.
Jeremiah McNeil, a fullback-linebacker, missed several games with an injury, but still provided solid play when he could.
Fourth-year man Richard Nielsen gave the Monarchs valuable minutes at tight end-defensive end until illness halted his campaign.
“The goal for each senior class is to leave the program better than they found it,” said Johnson. “These seniors absolutely did that.
“They were extremely selfless and led our team.”
Johnson said it won’t be easy to replace the fourth-year men.
“We will miss their personalities, but we’ll fall back on our process and culture with next year’s seniors,” he said. “We may have to play with a different style, based on the talent we have, but the guys coming back will understand the process.”
Johnson said there may be a few tweaks, including to the passing game, for the 2022 season.
The Monarchs’ trademark this season was its defense.
Opponents tallied only 112 points against them in 13 games.
The only points MHS permitted during the first half of any contest were the seven scored by Toledo Whitmer.
The loss to Springfield marked the only time Marysville fell behind in any game all season.
The offense, however, wasn’t about to take a backseat to its defensive brethren.
The Monarchs tallied 429 points, for an average of well over 30 per game.
MHS employed a powerful running attack that amassed more than 3,000 yards.
The goose egg against Springfield was the only time MHS was held scoreless.
Johnson said he wasn’t surprised the defense was in great shape right from the start.
He knew the offense would take a little longer to get in sync.
“It just took a little more time to develop our offensive consistency,” he said.
A part of that was due to the fact that some new linemen were implemented into the starting line-up.
Once the offense got up to speed, many opposing teams had no real answer for the Monarchs on either side of the ball.
Johnson said it was not only fun to coach the team, but also to watch how the entire area came together to support the Monarchs.
“It was fun watching our team be important to the school and community,” he said. “We had a lot of great support from the district and town and the guys appreciated being on that type of stage.
“What’s unique about Marysville is we’re a Division I program, but we’re a single community with just one high school football team.
“It’s not like Dublin, Hilliard or Olentangy that have multiple schools and teams.
“Everyone made this a special season and it’s something no one will ever forget.”