Spartans run past East Buchanan

Jake Ryder

GRUNDY CENTER – East Buchanan got Grundy Center's attention early.
Once the Spartan offense got in motion, the Buccaneers got to see Grundy Center's response.
After an East Buchanan interception on Grundy Center's first drive led to a Buccaneer touchdown, the Spartan offense responded with 42 unanswered points in a 42-22 win on Friday night.
"I thought we were in the game the whole time, even when some unfortunate things happened," Grundy Center head coach Brent Thoren said. "Once we got our offense going, that's when I felt our level of confidence start to go up. … We were moving the ball well and it was only a matter of time before we started scoring."
Grundy Center improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in the district, with East Buchanan falling to 2-2 overall and 0-1 in district play.
The Spartans drummed up 365 team rushing yards, led by Logan Knaack who scored three touchdowns on 10 carries for 218 yards. Knaack also threw for a touchdown.
Thoren said Grundy Center found success running the ball with a combination of offensive line fortitude and Caleb Kuiper using himself as a decoy to draw the defense away from the Spartans' other offensive weapons.
Friday was Kuiper's first time carrying the ball since Week 1's victory against Belle Plaine. He had eight carries for 35 yards but got a lot of attention from the Buccaneers.
"Everybody was focused on Caleb and it opened up opportunities for Logan," Thoren said. "We're going to take what the defense gives us. The offensive line was opening massive holes and Caleb would bring three guys right away trying to stop him when he faked a run. … He gets that role and we don't always know whose night it's going to be but our kids just want to win."
Thoren sees the offensive line unit as one of the team's greatest accomplishments so far this season. It was one of the positions where Grundy Center was most lacking in returning experience after last season's graduates moved on.
Matthew Sternhagen, Landon Graham, Tanner Phillips, Kolby Muller and Payton McMartin are the primary five on the line of scrimmage along with contributions from Wes Willis and Lawson Ash.
"Those seven guys have been consistent and are just playing so well," Thoren said. "They put a lot on their plate and make a lot of decisions in a short amount of time with our tempo. A lot of people don't see the inner-workings of the plays sometimes but the offensive line is playing really well."
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