MONMOUTH (WREX) — After a season of piling up the points, Orangeville and Polo played a defensive slugfest, with Polo scoring two touchdowns in the 2nd half to win the 8-man state championship, 12-7, over Orangeville.
The Broncos jumped out to a 7-0 lead on a touchdown run from Gunar Lobdell, and the defense held Polo scoreless in the first half. But the Marcos kept battling in the 2nd half, with Avery Grenoble cutting the lead to 7-6 on a touchdown run. After some strong defense by both sides, Polo got the ball inside the 5, where Grenoble punched in another touchdown with 4:47 to go in the game. The Marcos defense finished the job, while Brock Soltow caught a pass for a 1st down to ice the game for Polo.
"It felt awesome," Soltow said. "I was losing it after I caught that. I was making sure it was a first down when I looked up and it was first, I was like holy cow, we're state champs."
The defensive battle was a far cry from most of Polo and Orangeville's games this year, as the teams routinely scored more than 30 points, with 50 and 60 point games never out of the question.
"We've had so much history with Orangeville in the past," Polo head coach Ted Alston said. "Both hard-nosed football teams. [It was a] defensive struggle. Anyone who thinks the 8-man game is a wide-open game and scoring, tonight was the football we played in the NUIC forever."
And bringing home a title for a 2nd straight season means a lot to these players, as Polo cements itself as an 8-man powerhouse.
"It feels amazing," junior Avery Grenoble said. "Especially being part of it, it's just amazing."
Polo finishes the season undefeated, while Orangeville finishes 11-2 and the 8-man runner-up.