GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand Rapids High School football team blended a smothering defense with a potent offense to completely dominate the Duluth East Greyhounds in season-opening football action Friday night at Noble Hall Field in Grand Rapids.
The Thunderhawks defense held Duluth East to minus eight yards of offense in the first half while the Grand Rapids offense found the end zone four times in taking a 27-0 advantage into the locker room at halftime. The Thunderhawks were able to cruise in the second half as they came away with a 41-14 victory.
Grand Rapids senior quarterback Trent Johnson led a lethal Thunderhawk with four touchdown passes and he also added a touchdown run as the Grand Rapids offense moved the ball efficiently. He completed 8-of-13 passes for 141 yards, the four touchdowns and one interception. He also picked up 93 yards on the ground on just 10 carries.
“The output was good; we still have some little things we need to sharpen up but for the first game of the year I was pleased with how everything went,” said Thunderhawk coach Greg Spahn. “The kids played hard and they did a great job up front in protecting Trent and opening up holes. For the most part our offense was good and our defense was lights out.”
Grand Rapids wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard as it took the opening kickoff and scored when junior Dan Wohlers caught a short pass from Johnson and outran the Greyhound defenders for a 58-yard touchdown. The kick by Nic Langlois for the extra point was no good but the Thunderhawks led 6-0 with 9:33 remaining in the first quarter.
The remainder of the first quarter was turnover-laden as the Thunderhawks lost a fumble and an interception and Duluth East had a pass intercepted. The first quarter ended with the Thunderhawks leading 6-0.
The second quarter belonged to Grand Rapids as it scored three unanswered touchdowns to take a huge lead at halftime. The first touchdown of the quarter came on a nine-yard run by Caden Hofstad with 7:47 left in the quarter. Langlois was good with the extra point and the Thunderhawks had a 13-0 lead.
Grand Rapids’ Hunter Hillman recovered a Duluth East fumble on the Greyhounds’ next possession and Johnson made them pay as he bulled into the end zone from one yard out. Langlois booted the extra point and Grand Rapids led 20-0 with 2:04 left in the half.
After the Grand Rapids defense forced a Duluth East punt, the Thunderhawks scored their last touchdown of the half when Johnson connected with Derek Erdman on a 31-yard scoring pass. The extra point was good and the Thunderhawks led 27-0 at the half.
“We held them to negative yardage in the first half and coach (Bill) Kinnunen did a phenomenal job with our defense,” said Spahn. “We have some guys that can run and that shows. East was a little overmatched I think in that first half. They got some points in the second half due to some breakdowns by us but our kids played really hard. I was impressed with the condition that they were in and the effort that they gave.”
Grand Rapids added to its lead when it scored on a one-yard pass from Johnson to Dane Kennedy with 5:37 left in the third quarter. Langlois booted the extra point and the Thunderhawks led 34-0.
Duluth East was finally able to get into positive yardage offensively when Simon Randorf latched onto a 64-yard touchdown pass from Dean Hudoba later in the third quarter. The extra point was good as Grand Rapids led 34-7.
The Thunderhawks added another touchdown in the fourth quarter when Max Bergman scored on a one-yard plunge. Langlois again was good with the extra point as Grand Rapids led 41-7.
Duluth East scored its second touchdown late in the game when Austan Orvedahl caught a scoring pass from Hudoba.
Caden Hofstad picked up 48 yards rushing while Max Bergman added 38. In the receiving department, Erdman had three catches for 47 yards while Wohlers had the one catch for 58 yards.
Versus Hermantown Friday
The Thunderhawks will play Hermantown at home at 7 p.m. Friday night. The Hawks are coming off a 36-0 beating of Duluth Denfeld and Spahn said it will be a good team between two experienced squads. The Thunderhawks beat Hermantown last year 21-14.
“It should be a great game. Hopefully we will be able to contain them a little bit and keep playing well defensively,” said Spahn. “Hermantown has a good quarterback and their fullback is probably 250 pounds. They are fairly big up front so we have our work cut out for us.
“We have to limit our turnovers and our mistakes and I think the team that executes the best is the team that is going to win. They are talented and we have to outexecute them and outprepare them this week. If we can do that, I think we will be OK.”
Duluth East 0 0 7 7—14
Grand Rapids 6 21 7 7—41
GR-Dan Wohlers 58-yard pass from Trent Johnson (Kick failed)
GR-Caden Hofstad 9-yard run (Nic Langlois kick)
GR-Johnson 1-yard run (Langlois kick)
GR-Derek Erdman 31-yard pass from Johnson (Langlois kick)
GR-Dane Kennedy 1-yard pass from Johnson (Langlois kick)
DE-Simon Randorf 64-yard pass from Dean Hudoba (Kick good)
GR-Max Bergman 1-yard run (Langlois kick)
DE-Austan Orvedahl 14-yard pass from Hudoba (Kick good)