By Dean Eversole
Marion Local isn't even a town, but make no mistake that it is the home to one of the state's best football coaches - Tim Goodwin.
Marion Local Schools is a collection of small towns and it takes its name from the township, Marion Township. The actual school is in Maria Stein, a small town nestled away in the cornfields of western Ohio, roughly 20 miles from the Indiana border. There is a church, a restaurant, an ice cream parlor and a handful of homes, but not much else.
Up until 1999, the school had reached its highest levels in basketball. Football was a sport where disappointment ruled the day, but then entered Tim Goodwin.
Goodwin walked into the small town and did one thing, he made the game simple. Although Goodwin had never been a head coach, his father, Bill Goodwin, spent 30 years at Allen East where his Mustangs were perennial winners. Also, Bill was a high school classmate and friend of legendary Versailles coach Al Hetrick. Everything was in place for Tim, all he needed was a chance and he got at Marion Local.
Goodwin wasted little time in making a statement. In only his second year he knocked off Delphos St. John's in the state semifinal, ending its record-breaking winning streak. The Flyers went onto to blow out Mogadore, claiming the school's first football state title.
Since then, Goodwin's Flyers have won two more titles and were runners-up once. In 2007, they look poised to garner their coach's fourth state title in less than 10 years. It truly has been an amazing run for a coach still in 30's.
Goodwin's recipe for success is simple: hard work, basic football skills, discipline and straight forward approach. He doesn't claim to hold any special understanding of kids.
"If I knew how to keep kids focused I would be out on the circuit (giving speeches)," noted Goodwin. "You even see it (lack of focus) on Sundays in the NFL."
His team is currently 7-0 and sitting atop the Midwest Athletic Conference, a conference that has produced a state champion every year this decade except one (2002-2003).
The assumption is often made that when a team dominates the MAC, it is only a matter of time before it wins the state crown. This is something that Goodwin knows all too well as the critics are in search of any flaw his team may show.
"This has been a funny year because people expect us to be perfect," noted Goodwin "Every little mistake is pointed out."
This is a burden that many coaches would love to have, but one Goodwin has seen before. Even last season, despite dropping two games, his Flyers were the favorite to win D-VI and they did not disappoint. Marion rolled through the playoffs, capping the title with a 17-0 win over Shadyside. It was the third state title for Goodwin in the decade.
The Flyer run is a continuation of small school dominance by the MAC. St. Henry started it all in the early 1990's, winning four titles. It passed the torch to Delphos St. Johns, which won three consecutive titles to finish out the decade. Now it is the Flyers maintaining the MAC dominance with three titles and counting since 2000.
Amazingly, this is only Goodwin's eighth season as head coach. Although he has flirted with the idea of going elsewhere, he has remained at Marion Local and is in the process of building a dynasty.