At the onset of the high school football season, we brought you the story of Russell Athletic’s support of high school football teams that finished just short of a state title in 2015, and their quest to go one round better this season. Well, now that the results are all in, we can confirm that one school actually accomplished the goal.
Marion Local High School, from Maria Stein, Ohio, captured the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division 6 crown with a narrow, 21-17 victory against Cuyahoga Heights. The win capped a dramatic 12 months in which the Flyers finished just short of a similar title in 2015 before accomplishing the feat this time around.
The Marion Local title capped an impressive 14-1 campaign, including an 11-game winning streak to close out the season.
“Last year’s loss (to Kirtland in the title game) had to be going through all of our minds all day long,” Marion Local quarterback Duane Leugers told the Columbus Dispatch following the title-clinching victory. “I know it was going through mine, especially the way the second half was going.
“We were backed up in the end zone, got nothing on the first two plays, and I was thinking that this could get ugly fast. But we starting moving downfield and playing the way we play.”
Chronicling the victory — and the full season — every step of the way was student photographer Carlee Kremer, who was tasked with capturing the emotional and motivational moments that were key to the team’s success. You can see some of her best work above. With mentoring provided by legendary Friday Night Lights photographer Robert Clark, Kremer’s work clearly captured some of the most striking moments in a brilliant season. Her shot of the Flyers walking on to a field in front of enormous silos is about as close to the essence of small town Americana as you may ever see.
Fittingly, just as Marion Local was the team that succeeded in avenging a crushing loss in 2015, Kremer was one of two photographers chronicling her local team to be selected to serve as a game photographer for the 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando. Shooting the game alongside professional photographers and student representative from New Palestine (Ind.) Shelby Horsley, the two student photographers caught a number of memorable shots, not least of all Horsley’s image of the West Virginia Mountaineers huddling up before taking the field.
For both Marion Local and Kremer, the end of the season brought redemption and visible signs of progress, enough for each to reflect on success and also ponder how they can continue to grow in the years ahead.