Polo uses second-half comeback to edge Orangeville for 8-man state championship

High School Football

MONMOUTH, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — Everyone expected a tight game for the 8-man football state championship Friday night. That’s exactly how it played out at Monmouth College. Polo edged Orangeville 12-7 to claim it’s second 8-man state championship in three years.

Orangeville struck first on a 30-yard touchdown run by Guner Lobdell late in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead for the Broncos. The score remained that way until the third quarter. After a long run by Polo’s Avery Grenoble gave the Marcos the ball inside the ten, Grenoble then took a snap from the shotgun and scored on a short run. The extra point failed, so Orangeville still led 7-6.

In the fourth quarter Polo quarterback Tyler Merdian connected on a deep pass to Brock Soltow to the Orangeville 15. Moments later Grenoble scored his second touchdown of the game on a short run making it 12-7 Polo.

That’s the way it ended. The Marcos are 8-man state champios again.

“It feels great because we were always the school in the conference that never won one, so to win another one here to get two it feels, the greatest feeling in the world,” said Merdian.

“That catch was insane,” said Soltow of his grab that set up the winning touchdown. “I did not think I was going to pull it off to be honest and then it happened, and then that whole place went nuts.”

“It means everything to us,” said Polo head coach Ted Alston of the championship. “We had a great group of seniors last year that didn’t even get the opportunity to defend it with COVID, so for these guys to be able to come out here and do this it’s just, words can’t describe how I feel.”

The Marcos finish their season 13-0. The Broncos finished 11-2 in their first season competing at the 8-man level. Both schools are former members of the Northwest Upstate Illini Conference in 11-man football.

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