116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — The lights went out at Thomas Park Field for the last time.
Having served as the home for Marion football since 1936, the Wolves will move into a brand new facility next season. Marion provided a proper farewell, flying past Waterloo East, 42-13, on Friday night.
“It feels amazing,” Marion two-way star Alex Mota said. “I know the team’s gonna love (the new facility). I don’t think we’ll make the playoffs this year, but we went out with a bang.”
The Wolves were supposed to begin life in their new home this season, but following construction delays and weather issues, Marion (5-4, 3-2) spent one last season at Thomas Park.
Symbolically, maybe this was for the best. After finishing 1-8 last season, Friday night saw the Wolves end their 2022 regular season with a winning record.
“It’s great,” Mota said. “It’s gonna be great for the younger kids. They’re seeing us winning. They’ll know what it feels like to win some games.”
“The players were the ones to inspire the change,” Marion Coach Michael Joyner said. “We coaches can honestly only do so much. We can try to instill the qualities that we want in a good football team, but until those players see it work, until those guys buy in, that’s what we saw this year. That’s when the turnaround really started.”
Marion got off to a fast start. Coda Johnson took the opening kickoff 73 yards to the Waterloo East 20. A Mota 18-yard run and a pair of short runs from Kai Glade put Marion into the end zone for a quick 7-0 lead with 11:04 left in the first quarter.
Darius Rouson capped another short drive with a 1-yard touchdown run of his own.
On the first snap of the second quarter, Mota got behind his defender. Kaleb Diers launched downfield as far as he could, hitting Mota in stride for a 70-yard score and a 21-0 lead with 11:40 left in the half.
Waterloo East (0-9, 0-5) began to find its footing. The Trojans ripped off runs of 17, 10, and 12 yards and had a 28-yard connection from Jameel Montgomery to Ahdan Muammad. With the ball at the Marion 12, a miscommunication between quarterback and receiver led to an Elliott Dyrland interception in the end zone.
As the Wolves moved the ball to the Waterloo East 6, Montgomery returned the favor, picking off Diers in the end zone, only to be intercepted by Dyrland once again on the ensuing possession.
With the ball at their own 49, Glade plowed through defenders for a 14-yard gain. Mota took the next snap 37 yards the rest of the way as the Wolves took a 28-0 lead into the half.
Mota added a third score in the second half.
The Wolves ended up being the first team out of the Class 4A playoffs.
It was a triumphant finish for Mota, whose decorated career at Marion will continue at the University of Iowa.
Mota finished with 149 yards on the ground and 88 yards receiving.