Spartans possess the tools to conquer Class 1A next

Top row left to right: Alex Kiewiet, Jacob Hoy, Charlie Rinard, Dayton Myers, Brody Zinkula, Colin Gordon, Tiernan Vokes, Tate Jirovsky, Elliott Vokes, Ryder Slifer, Trent Cakerice, Ryker Thoren, Devin Hinders, Ryder Ross, Gabe McMartin, Cash Combs, Grant Newton, Clay Saak. Middle row: Reid Beenken, Brannen Jensen, Aiden Hook, Ethan Meester, Carter Ruth, Chevy Richardson, Parker Kremenak, Kasey Seitz, Pete Lebo, Harry Brekunitch, Keon Vanhorn, Jackson Huisman, Klayton Freed, JD Eckhardt, Dylan Knaack, Tanner Laube, Hayden Geerdes. Bottom Row (Left to Right) - Matthew Luiken, Eli Wegmann, Riley Forbes, Aiden Betts, Lleyton Weber, Kyle Seitz, Justin Knaack, Jaxon Kiewiet, Britt Meyer, Gage Miller, Elias Cakerice, Owen Primus, Christian Langan. Not pictured: Liam Gingery, Judd Jirovsky.
CJ Eilers
Regional Sports Editor
2022 Record: 13-0 (Class A Champions)
Head Coach: Travis Zajac 
Coach Travis Zajac doesn’t want his Spartans focused on what happened a year ago inside the UNI Dome. He doesn’t bring much attention to Grundy Center making the move up from Class A to Class 1A this season. He especially doesn’t want his Spartans to think they can’t compete against larger schools when the fifth-year coach knows these Spartans are capable of doing great things again in 2023. 
“Moving up to Class 1A will change where we’re going and who’s coming here on Friday nights, but otherwise we are keeping things the same,” Zajac said. “We lost a small, but important senior class (to graduation) but we return a pretty talented and deep team I’m confident about.”
Senior quarterback Colin Gordon (69.8 completion rate for 2071 yards and 25 touchdowns, 542 yards on 124 carries and 11 rushing touchdowns) is back for his third season as a starter. He’ll have a loaded backfield alongside him in classmates Justin Knaack (890 yards on 145 carries, 19 touchdowns) and Clay Saak (470 yards on 99 carries, five touchdowns). While the receiving group did have two graduate, senior Tate Jirovsky (580 yards on 29 receptions, eight touchdowns) and junior Tiernan Vokes (461 yards on 26 receptions, 10 touchdowns) return as deep threats. 
“Colin was outstanding for us last year and we expect him to kind of pick up where he left off at the end of the season,” Zajac said. “We have All-State level guys in the backfield and on the perimeter. They remember/recall a lot of information from last season.  It's just going to be a matter of distributing the ball where it needs to go on Friday nights. We’ll be a tough matchup for anyone.” 
A deep group of linemen will fill the gap left by a graduated Patrick Brown III, including senior Trent Cakerice (69 tackles, five sacks). Junior Brody Zinkula (61 tackles, two interceptions) leads an experienced linebacker core alongside Knaack and Saak. 
“We got plenty of depth at the line of scrimmage and the quality of our returning players is high,” Zajac said. “These seniors have been in the fire and know what it takes. They have to continue to remember the mental, emotional strength it takes to lead a football team.”
Grundy Center is no stranger to 1A teams, having played neighbors Dike-New Hartford and South Hardin last season. The Spartans will open their season at DNH this season before hosting Aplington-Parkersburg and Pella Christian the following two weeks for their non-district schedule. All three were playoff qualifiers in 2022 and each secured at least one postseason win. Grundy Center will host South Hardin for Homecoming and will face NICL schools Columbus Catholic and Hudson on the road. 
“As a program, we have shown we can get better every day if we take the approach of a week at a time,” Zajac said. If you watched our first game last season, we weren’t a Dome-bound team at all. Our kids have to be ready to work and compete on a daily basis, no matter who we are facing. Strength, honor, integrity, effort, leadership and discipline. Carry Your S.H.I.E.L.D. 
Grundy Center football will open its season at Dike-New Hartford on Friday, Aug. 25. 
2023 Grundy Center Football Schedule
Friday, Aug 25 @ Dike-New Hartford
Friday, Sept. 1 vs Aplington-Parkersburg
Friday, Sept. 8 vs Pella Christian
Friday, Sept. 15 @ East Marshall 
Thursday, Sept 21 @ Columbus Catholic 
Friday, Sept. 29 vs South Hardin
Friday, Oct 6 vs Alburnett
Thursday, Oct. 12 @ Hudson
Friday, Oct. 20 First Round Playoffs TBA



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