Pioneers Set To Battle Fighting Muskies For Shrine Trophy

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The Shrine Trophy and bragging rights are on the line for the Marietta Pioneers (1-8) and the Muskingum Muskies (1-8) in the last game of the 2013 season. These Ohio Athletic Conference rivals play for the 93rd time this Saturday as kickoff from McConagha Stadium in New Concord, Ohio, is set for 1:30 p.m.

The Pioneers and Muskies enter this rivalry game with only one win apiece on the season, both against the Wilmington Quakers. In order to get win number two, these teams need to play to their strength of running the football. Defense is also crucial in this matchup as both Marietta and Muskingum give up more than two times as many points than they score.

“We’re expecting this to be the best game of the year. This is a rivalry game and an important game for both schools,” Marietta head coach Andy Waddle said. “Muskingum is a physical team, but if we play with passion and discipline we can end the season with a win.”

In a heart-breaking 27-24 overtime loss to the Capital Crusaders last week, Muskingum found success from its running backs Shane Dotson and Melvin Smith. Dotson had 21 attempts for 115 yards against the Crusaders while Smith had two touchdowns on only seven rushes.

The rushing attack is not alone as the Muskies also have wide receiver James Washington who holds the school record for receiving yards with 2,070.

“They [Muskingum] cause problems with a good running game by being able to hide the ball behind the line of scrimmage,” Waddle said. “They also have one of the best wide receivers in the league, which makes for a very balanced offense.”

This balanced offense plays in favor of Muskingum as the Pios give up an average of 46.7 points and 482 yards a game. The Muskies also have defensive struggles of their own giving up 32 points a game while only scoring 15. Despite giving up 346 yards to Capital last week, the defense can still rely on its leader Damond Goggins who has 87 tackles on the year averaging 10 a game.

With the Shrine Trophy up for grabs, both teams are hungry to snap the losing streaks they carry into this week’s game.

“Winning the Shrine Trophy would be a step in the right direction and would give the guys something to be proud of to close out the season,” Waddle said.

Marietta and Muskingum hope to enter the offseason on a positive note and winning this rivalry game would achieve that goal. By capitalizing on Muskingum’s vulnerable defense, Marietta can capture its second win of the season along with the Shrine Trophy.