The Joe Roche era started out strong for Ell-Saline, as the Cardinals travelled to Marion and stomped the Warriors by a final score of 28-0.
The game looked to be a defensive battle in the first half, with Marion forcing two turnovers in the first quarter, one of them coming at their own two-yard line. The scoring got started following that fumble, as Marion running back Jake Hess was brought down in the endzone for a safety on the very next play. Ell-Saline would lead 2-0 until they finished the first half with a 15-play, 92-yard drive that was capped off with a TJ Morrical to Payton Powell touchdown with four seconds remaining in the half. Ell-Saline led 8-0 at halftime.
Following an injury-riddled junior season, TJ Morrical showed that he was at full health in this one, dominating the second half for the Cardinals. Morrical had touchdown rushes from 8 yards, 3 yards, and a 33-yard quarterback sneak that sealed the 28-0 shutout win for Ell-Saline. It was not just Morrical who ran well tonight for the Cardinals; sophomore running back Obed Ruiz carried the load for Ell-Saline, splitting carries with seniors Payton Powell and Keenan Drees. The defense also played extremely well, holding Marion to just fifteen plays in each half. The front five for Ell-Saline controlled the game all night and was a big reason for both the offensive and defensive success.
Ell-Saline (1-0) will matchup with arch-rival Sacred Heart (0-1) next week. Sacred Heart fell to an experienced 8-man Kinsley squad 42-6 in week one, but with new coaches on both sidelines, it will be a big game for both teams in this rivalry matchup.