GRAND RAPIDS — It was one of those games for the Grand Rapids High School football team last Friday against Cloquet.
In the Lumberjacks’ homecoming game, the Thunderhawks made a number of errors that went a long way in a 42-18 loss at the hands of Cloquet. Grand Rapids trailed by just 19-18 at one point in the contest but the Lumberjacks tallied 23 unanswered points as Grand Rapids mistakes and the overall dangerousness of senior running back Markus Pokornowski was too much for the Thunderhawks to handle.
Grand Rapids head coach Greg Spahn said he thought the Thunderhawks’ effort was “pretty good” but that his team uncharacteristically made too many mistakes.
“Those turnovers really killed us; we had a couple deep and we had some defensive breakdowns,” Spahn said. “It was really a recipe of disaster so we doubled up and looked at how can we prepare, how can we get better as coaches and how can we get our players to prepare better as well and move forward.
“We had a pretty good practice on Monday and we are looking forward to a good week.”
While the turnovers and mistakes decimated Grand Rapids, Spahn said the Thunderhawks couldn’t seem to catch a break in the game.
“We couldn’t get a bounce either,” the coach explained. “But that’s football. We were able to strip it from them a couple times and the ball bounced towards the purple all night.
An interception was tipped twice and picked off so it’s like part of that’s football and part of that’s preparation.
“We’ll fix it and we’ll be ready.”
Spahn praised the play of Pokornowski who he said is the best player in northeastern Minnesota.
“He is playing one-handed; he is an incredibly tough runner, he is a good defender and he made plays,” said Spahn. “They made plays and we didn’t and that’s kind of what it comes down to.”
The Thunderhawks will play Duluth East on Friday and Spahn said the Greyhounds have some good athletes on the offensive side of the ball. He said Duluth East has two good running backs in Eli Leonard and Derek Daniels and that quarterback Caden Edwards is a dangerous customer.
“Duluth East runs the ball well and they throw it pretty well,”said Spahn. “They have had some success; they beat Hermantown Friday. We are moving as we always have, just taking it one game at a time. We will be ready; we will make sure everybody is healthy and we will have a good plan for them.
“It is our jobs as coaches to get the kids to execute that plan.”
Junior Caden Hofstad had a big game in the loss to Cloquet with 165 yards rushing and Spahn said he is one of the most dangerous players in the area. He added that running back Brock Holm also has been good.
“Both of those guys have been tremendous for us. Caden Hofstad has put in an incredible amount of work and he has made himself one of the better players in our area,” Spahn said. “Brock is very similar; he is a powerful kid and our offense is going to run through those guys. We have to get both of those guys going, and get Johnny Bonner and Max Bergman in the flow.
“Throw (quarterback) Trent (Johnson) in there and he also is able to read defenses and make the right decisions on the field. It has helped us tremendously.”
Grand Rapids, with a 4-2 record, has two games remaining in the regular season.
“I think it is incredibly important to finish strong and go into the section playoffs on a roll,” Spahn said. “More than likely we will be the No. 3 seed and that would give us a bye in the first round, and then we would have to play the No. 1 seed which will probably be Detroit Lakes or Rocori.
“But we have to keep being successful on the field and keep having good practices in order to be successful this Friday and next Wednesday. If we do that, we will have a bye and then it is kind of anybody’s ball game.”
Mountain Iron-Buhl 68,
Hill City/Northland 38
HILL CITY — Dillon Drake ran for four touchdowns to lead the Rangers past Hill City/Northland, 68-38.
Drake scored twice in the first quarter, once in the second and again in the third to pace the Mountain Iron-Buhl attack.
Hunter Weigel added a 14-yard scoring reception from Asher Zubich and also a 1-yard TD run. Riley Busch also added two touchdown receptions from Zubich. The MI-B quarterback also ran in one score, to go with his three passing touchdowns.
MI-B (5-1) plays at Floodwood Friday.
MI-B 30 6 8 24—68
HC/N 6 1814 0—38
MIB — Hunter Weigel 14 pass from Asher Zubich (run failed)
MIB — Dillon Drake 1 run (Weigel run)
HC — Vinny Ruschmeier 5 run (pass failed)
MIB — Riley Busch 10 pass from Zubich (Drake run)
MIB — Drake 5 run (Zubich run)
HC — Johnathan Gowell 11 pass from Wake (pass failed)
HC — Ammerman 2 run (pass failed)
MIB — Drake 21 run (run failed)
HC — Ruschmeier 10 run (pass failed)
MIB — Drake 8 run (Zubich pass from Weigel)
HC — Ruschmeier 2 run (Ruschmeyer run)
HC — Ruschmeier 60 run (pass failed)
MIB — Zubich 2 run (Drake run)
MIB — Busch 2 pass from Zubich (Drake run)
MIB — Weigel 1 run (Busch pass from Zubich)
NASHWAUK — A tough Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin football team proved to be the tougher squad Friday night, downing visiting Eveleth-Gilbert 42-0.
With the score standing at 36-0 at halftime, the Bears only gave up one more score in the second half. Coach Derek Malner said his team picked up the intensity in the second half on the defensive front.
“About halfway through the second quarter we picked it up, I think,” Malner said. “From there they only scored 12 points the rest of the game and I’m real proud of the guys effort out there regardless of the score. The more physical team definitely got the win tonight.”
Eveleth-Gilbert is back in action next week for their homecoming game against International Falls, a must-win for the Bears according to Malner.
“We’re seeing this next one as a must-win for playoff seeding purposes. Offensively, we need to find some consistency and defensively keep up that intensity we had tonight in the second half. I think the outlook is looking up with having a home game and how we ended things defensively tonight.”