By James Howell Jr./For Daily Reporter
NEW CASTLE — It is hard to imagine there is another offense in Indiana clicking at the same level of the Class 4A No. 6 Mt. Vernon Marauders.
Heading into Friday night’s Hoosier Heritage Conference clash against New Castle (2-5, 1-3 HHC), the Marauders (6-1, 5-0 HHC) were on a five-game streak of scoring 42 or more points.
Their run continued against the host Trojans as the Marauders steamrolled their way to a 46-0 win.
The Marauders needed only the first half to hit the 42 point mark to continue their streak.
In the first minute of action, Marauder quarterback Gehrig Slunaker hit receiver Tre Jones on a short 4-yard pass for a score.
On the ensuing Trojans’ drive, the Marauders forced a punt in just three plays. Avery Williams took the ball 70 yards to the end zone for the Marauders to cushion the lead to 15-0 with nine minutes left in the opening quarter.
The onslaught continued minutes later with a Trevon Hegler touchdown run.
Despite the offensive firepower, and a 22-0 lead after the first quarter, the Marauders were called for five first-quarter penalties that totaled 48 yards.
“I have no real complaints about how we attacked the game, both offensively and defensively,” Marauders head coach Vince Lidy said. “We came out and moved well and did what we had to do. But there were a lot of penalties and when we get up against the teams we think we can compete with in the playoffs, those penalties will kill us.”
In total, the Marauders had 10 penalties called against them for 88 yards.
“If you don’t take something from each and every single game, you don’t get better,” Lidy said. “Even in a game that is decided at half, you find places to grow.”
Despite the penalty issues, in the second quarter, the Marauders managed to score even more than they did in the first quarter.
Slunaker tossed his second and third touchdowns of the game with a 20-yard catch-and-run by George Burhenn and a 67-yard catch-and-run by Jones (his second of the game).
Ethan Yeley chipped in with a 27-yard field goal and Slunaker snuck the ball in from a yard out in the closing minutes of the half to extend the lead well past the IHSAA mercy-rule threshold.
Up 46-0, the entirety of the second half was played with a running clock.
Lidy opted to hold out most of his starters for the duration of the second half in order to maintain health and get his younger players some varsity experience.
“It’s been a good thing for us to get the younger guys in multiple times this year,” Lidy said. “We always dress every available guy from grades 10-12. Some of the younger guys struggled early this season, but the growth is obvious. We made great plays on both sides with the young players in there and they are only going to keep getting better.”
Neither team scored in the second half as the clock never stopped.
“It’s another win, and we can celebrate for a day or so, but the season isn’t over. On to the next one after this short bit of celebrating,” Lidy said.
The Marauders will continue their journey towards a repeat HHC title next week with their final road test of the season at Shelbyville.
Mt. Vernon 46, New Castle 0
MT. VERNON (6-1, 5-0 HHC);22;24;0;0;—;46
NEW CASTLE(2-5, 1-3 HHC);0;0;0;0;—;0
MV—Gehrig Slunaker 4 pass to Tre Jones (2-pt converted), 11:00
MV—Avery Williams 70 Punt Return (Ethan Yeley kick), 9:04
MV—Travon Hegler 7 run (Yeley kick), 5:18
MV—Slunaker 20 pass to George Burhenn (Yeley kick), 11:55
MV— Yeley 27 field goal, 8:41
MV—Slunaker 67 pass to Jones (Yeley kick), 5:28
MV—Slunaker 1 run (Yeley kick), 2:27