Spartans thump Cougars in homecoming shutout

Grundy Center's Tate Jirovsky runs up field after making a catch in the first half against AGWSR. (Jake Ryder photo)
Jake Ryder
The Grundy Register

GRUNDY CENTER – Grundy Center showed some balanced offense, and the Spartan defense delivered a second-consecutive shutout, 35-0 winners over AGWSR at Spartan Stadium for Grundy Center’s homecoming game.

Colin Gordon completed two touchdown passes, rushed for one more, and Justin Knaack and Brody Zinkula showed the footwork one would expect from recent history with their family names, bookending the night with gritty rushes for a touchdown each.

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The home team improved to 5-0 overall, 3-0 in the district, then put on their dancing shoes for the post-game dance. Once the final song plays, attention turns to a key road tilt with Nashua-Plainfield.

But Friday was something to celebrate for the Spartans.

“You always want to win on homecoming,” said Tate Jirovsky, one of the receivers on the other end of a Gordon touchdown throw. “We just keep working as a team in practice, keep grinding, and with players like Colin and my teammates around me, it’s good.”

AGWSR played their NICL West rivals aggressively at the start, working on getting Gordon on the move, but the opening drive saw Gordon hit Jirovsky, Ben Wegmann and Tanner Laube for 10-plus yard passes, capped by Knaack’s touchdown run.

Gordon threw an interception in the end zone, picked off by Gabe Nederhoff, with five minutes left in the first, but was otherwise able to spread the ball around to his many capable receivers.

“Some of the passes he’s completing are really high level stuff for a high school quarterback,” Grundy Center head coach Travis Zajac said. “The one that he’s going to focus on is the interception, but we’ll talk through it, we’ll coach it up this week. And when you take that one play out of it, it’s really a fantastic performance.”

Laube dragged his toes in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown completion four minutes into the second quarter. Then with time running out before halftime, Knaack carried the ball five times for 64 yards to eventually set up Gordon on the 1-yard keeper with three seconds on the scoreboard and a 21-0 halftime lead.

“It just seemed like everything was working tonight,” Gordon said. “Guys getting open, working down the field. They’re all really fast, good size, it’s working well right now.

“I get a lot of the credit but the line does all the work to protect us. And the coaches put us in good positions to be successful.”

After a quick stop after halftime, Jirovsky hauled in a Gordon pass and ran out a 41-yard touchdown reception four minutes into the second half for a 28-0 lead.

AGWSR’s Kaden Abbas and Bo Gerbracht made plays in a late third-quarter drive to get inside the Spartans’ redzone, but a fumble at the 3-yard line was recovered by Austin Betts.

At the start of the fourth, Grundy Center launched a 97-yard drive comprised of a steady diet of Zinkula runs, as the sophomore bruised his way downfield, shedding tacklers and eventually plunging in from three yards out to start the continuous clock.

The shutout from the Spartan defense is a product of not letting their guard down against what Abbas and Gerbracht are capable of doing as playmakers. Jirovsky intercepted a pass on AGWSR’s last-gasp drive.

“When they’re in the open field, they’re dangerous,” Zajac said. “Wapsie played good defense last week and gave up two big plays. So we emphasized that we had to make them earn it. If they have to earn it by making big plays, it’d be a long night, because we’re stout against the run. So they had to put the ball in the air and they made a couple mistakes that we capitalized on.”

The Cougars fall to 3-2 overall and 2-2 in the district after facing what Cougars coach James Koop felt were the best two teams in the district on back-to-back Friday nights on the heels of a 42-14 loss to Wapsie Valley last Friday.

AGWSR’s hopes of reaching the playoffs likely hinge on winning at least one of the next two games at Hudson or the home finale against Nashua-Plainfield. Koop hopes to see the Cougars work on their pad level and tackling before heading to Hudson on Friday.

“Third and fourth in the district are there to be taken,” Koop said of his message to the guys after the game. “So we’ve gotta go take it. Hudson won’t give it to us, Nashua won’t give it to us. 

“As a head coach and a player, you want to beat these kinds of top teams. We’re not there yet. … But if we win those (next) two games, we control our destiny. Our goals are still intact after this game.”

Nashua-Plainfield defeated BCLUW 20-6 and rides a three-game winning streak into next week’s home game against the Spartans.

“They’ll be excited for us to come up there and our guys often respond to that,” Zajac said. “Our guys know there are bigger things that can come to them if we continue to improve weekly. And I think with how hard they work, how hard the coaches work for the kids, we’re gonna be very ready to play Friday night.”




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