High-Powered Heidelberg Visits Marietta

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It often seems to be a tough task for a team to bounce back after losing a rough game. For the Marietta Pioneers, calling Saturday’s enormous loss to Mount Union a “rough game” would be putting it politely. Giving up 84 points on 12 touchdowns isn’t a regular obstacle for a football team to overcome, but the Pioneers must do their best as a No. 13 Heidelberg squad visits Don Drumm Stadium on Saturday night.

Heidelberg is already 3-0 on the season, averaging a 42.3-point margin of victory, which even beats Mount Union’s average by 5.3 points. The Student Princes are 2-0 in the Ohio Athletic Conference after wins over Ohio Northern and conference bottom-dweller Wilmington College. The Pioneers haven’t been able to topple Heidelberg since the 2007 season, when they came away with a slim 31-23 victory.

Junior quarterback Michael Mees returns after a season in which he threw for 23 touchdowns, the second highest season total in Heidelberg history. Mees’ 20 wins in his career are also second most among all Division III quarterbacks.

Heidelberg’s offense can stand toe-to-toe with any of the top teams in Division III football, but its defense still remains a slight concern. While Heidelberg held Wilmington to just 12 points and forced three interceptions in its most recent game, the Quakers were still able to record 409 passing yards. Wilmington was held to just 51 yards on the ground, but the Pioneers might want to expose the Heidelberg secondary in hopes of getting their offense rolling.

Tom Fulton was named the starter once again for the Pioneers against Mount Union, but struggled after finding success in their first-possession touchdown drive. Fulton finished with 218 yards on 15-for-32 passing with a touchdown and an interception, a valiant effort against a stout Mount Union defense. Fulton will likely start again this week.

On the other side of the ball, Marietta coach Andy Waddle expressed concern over the amount of injuries the defense has suffered in the opening games of the season. The Pioneers have lost key contributors on the front line and have surrendered 54.3 points per game to opposing defenses.

With an inability to stop any opposing offense they’ve seen thus far, the Pioneers’ only chance for a victory would likely come through a shootout, something that could be possible with an experienced quarterback like Fulton and a struggling Heidelberg secondary.

Marietta and Heidelberg kick off from Don Drumm Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m.