Running to win:

Joey Giorgi puts up video game-type numbers to lead Grafton over West Bend East in offensive showdown

GRAFTON’S JOEY GIORGI (left) dominated the ground game behind strong blocking against West Bend East last Friday. Photo by Mitch Maersch
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

It was improbable at best that Joey Giorgi was going to top his opening-week performance of 213 yards rushing with five touchdowns against a strong North Shore Conference competitor in West Bend East last Friday.

Only he did. And it wasn’t even close.

Giorgi rushed for 344 yards and six scores in a 40-27 victory.

“I didn’t. I really didn’t,” Giorgi said of besting his first week’s totals. “I was hoping for a good game, but this exceeded my expectations for sure.”

Coach Jim Norris wasn’t as surprised.

“Yeah, he could probably top this one too,” he said.

Giorgi often burst through a wide open hole in the middle and then bounced outside. He slowed down to pick up blocks, stutter stepped or stopped and started to avoid tackles and could ignite a burst when he needed to go.

“Coach (Justin) Gumm had together a great game plan for us. My o-line executed beautifully. I was seeing the blocks well. It was a great team effort overall,” Giorgi said.

On the other side, East quarterback Dawson Rondorf put in a Fran Tarkenton-like performance, scrambling to extend plays and sometimes pull the ball down and run. He finished 27-for-40 passing for 240 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. He ran 11 times for 13 yards and two scores.

“He’s just a playmaker. Rondorf is the real deal. He’s fun to watch, really sucks to coach against,” Norris said.

The Black Hawks held a 19-14 lead early in the fourth quarter, when the Suns were driving for the go-ahead score. Penalties led them to face third down and 52 yards to go. A few more flags and they would have been snapping the ball from the site of the razed Grafton Elementary School.

The Hawks committed a pass interference penalty, setting up third and 37. That’s when senior Caleb Buback changed the game.

Rondorf rolled right and fired a dart. Buback leaped and pulled the ball out of the air with two hands and began traveling down the sideline. He got tackled on the 12.

Giorgi later scored on a five-yard run to make it 26-14.

“I knew it was coming to me. They came to me the play before and I messed up and got a penalty, and I wanted to help my team and get it back,” Buback said of the pick.

“Coach made a great call. I was just in the right spot. We rep it in practice all the time. My teammates got great blocks for me. Next time I’ll take it to the house.”

It was a turning point in a game that was in the balance.

“Talk about momentum. That swung it back to us big time,” Norris said, praising Buback.

“He’s just a guy, crazy hard worker, focuses on the process. Those types of guys in big-time situations you love to see have success because they put so much into it.”

The defense held on fourth down on the ensuing possession, and Giorgi scored two plays later on a 43-yard run. The point-after made it 33-14.

After the Suns cut the lead to 33-21, Giorgi burst through for a 50-yard touchdown.

The Suns answered again and recovered an onside kick, but didn’t score again.

The Hawks took a 12-0 lead in the first quarter on Giorgi runs of 36 and 49 yards and the defense tallied interceptions by Joey Birch and Dylan Robinson, putting the team in position to blow the game open.

“Our defense in the first half was really lockdown,” Birch said.

But the Suns picked off a pass and their defense stiffened. The Hawks had a 12-7 lead at halftime.

The Suns took the second-half kickoff and drove 69 yards to take a 14-12 lead.

Down for the first and only time in the game, the Hawks had to answer.

They did just that, embarking on a 10-play, 75-yard drive, mixing runs and passes. Zach Weir completed three balls for 30 yards, including one to Mason Hunt-Olkowski for 19 yards on third and seven.

Giorgi finished off the last four yards for the go-ahead score.

The Hawks never got frazzled, despite giving up the lead.

“Just next play. Let’s just go win next play and do your job to the best of your ability, and we did,” Norris said of the team’s approach.

“We just kept the same attitude, same mindset,” tackle J.P. Benzschawel said.

Although exciting, the game featured a number of penalties, including several personal fouls on both sides.

“We’ve got to be better,” Norris said.

Grafton (2-0) heads to defending state and conference champion Homestead (2-0) on Friday.

“We’re happy but we’ve got a long way to go to be great,” Norris said.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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