Emotional week ends with a playoff loss for Marion County
HARTSVILLE, Tenn. (WRCB) -- There was no storybook ending for Marion County football Friday night.
In the wake of losing their head coach and three assistants in a shocking scandal, the Warriors took the field at Trousdale County in the quarterfinals of the Class 2A state playoffs.
It would be the last time they take the field this season.
Kenyon Harper scored three touchdowns and the Yellow Jackets remained unbeaten with a 41-14 win that ended the Warriors' season at 10-3 overall.
"You learn to pick yourself and go," said interim head coach Larry Richards. "That's what we've all had to learn to do. A lot of adults have learned that the hard way before, and these kids learned that this week and can take that with them the rest of their lives."
Richards, an assistant for two decades before coaching the middle school program the past two years, was named the interim head coach on Wednesday after head coach Mac McCurry resigned. McCurry was linked to vandalism of the team's fieldhouse prior to the South Pittsburg game, which also resulted in the arrests of assistant coaches Michael Schmitt and Joe Dan Gudger.
Another assistant, Tim Starkey, was relieved of his duties Tuesday for allegedly breaking into the South Pittsburg fieldhouse to steal gameplans.
"I'm so proud of these kids," Richards said. "They just refused to let up."
Josh Henderson answered Harper's opening score with a 75-yard kickoff return for a score to knot the game at 7-all early. However, Harper would add two more quick scores for a 14-point lead and the Jackets pushed the advantage to 21 points at the break.
Marion County's Mr. Football finalist Blake Zeman scored from a yard out in the second half, but the game had long been decided.
Trousdale County advances to play at Knoxville Grace in next week's state semifinals. The Rams ousted Silverdale 49-21 in another quarterfinal game.
Marion County will now begin the process of hiring a new head coach as it tries to close the book on one of the ugliest chapters in its proud history.