Grafton on cusp of rare feat

Blowout at Cedarburg has Black Hawks football one win from first postseason berth since 1997
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

Once Grafton High School’s football team began scoring on Friday night, it didn’t stop.

With a 63-7 bulldozing of the Bulldogs, the Black Hawks moved within one game of qualifying for the playoffs with three left to play.

“It’s a unique opportunity, somewhere Grafton hasn’t been in a long time,” first-year coach Jim Norris said. “These kids know it.”

On Friday, they played like they knew it.

Junior running back Joey Giorgi ran for 213 yards and four scores on 20 carries, averaging 10.7 yards per rush. He added two catches for 49 yards.

“He goes out and he has these great numbers and has these spectacular plays. It’s no surprise to anyone in the program. He’s as blue collar as they get. He works hard Monday through Thursday and that translates into the game,” Norris said. “He loves the weight room and is phenomenal academically.”

Bryson Clague had three catches for 143 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown from Brady Ward on a flea flicker.

The Hawks’ two-headed quarterback attack of Ward and Zach Weir again had a solid game. Weir went 10-for-13 passing for 134 yards and three touchdowns, and Ward was 4-for-8 for 129 yards and a score, and had a rushing touchdown.

“They’re both competing at really high level and forcing each other to do great,” Norris said.

The Bulldogs didn’t get on the board until the third quarter. By then, the game was out of control at 49-0. Jake Leair went 16-for-30 passing for 214 yards and a touchdown, and Drew Biber caught nine balls for 124 yards. But the Hawks held the Bulldogs to 69 yards rushing on 19 attempts.

Norris again credited defensive coordinator Jason Whalen and his squad.

“It’s a testament to the kids. They do a lot of work outside of football. They did things on their own, watched film to know what Cedarburg was going to do. They just outphysical everyone and outwork everyone,” he said.

Calen Knauer and Joe Birch each had six tackles, and Ward and Hawk Heffner each made an interception. Kyle Proefrock, Heffner and Max Medvedev each made five tackles, and Medvedev forced a fumble. Kenny Likins added four. Heffner had two sacks, and Medvedev and Proefrock had one each.

After Giorgi scored on a two-yard run and Ward hit Clague for a second score, the Hawks blew the game open in the second quarter. Giorgi ran for a 25-yard score, Weir hit tight end Caleb Buback for a 25-yard touchdown, and Ward had a 1-yard run for a third score. It was 34-0 at halftime.

Buback finished with four catches for 36 yards and two touchdowns. Calen Knauer caught three balls for 32 yards.

The road to the postseason won’t be easy. Grafton hosts fellow 4-2 North Shore Conference opponent Hartford on Friday in the homecoming game, followed by playing at 5-1 Slinger and hosting 4-2 Port Washington.

“We talked about sacrifice. We talk about these seniors having only 21 more guaranteed days of football,” Norris said.

One of his favorite quotes is “I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. I’m saying it’s going to be worth it.”

That, he said, translates to sacrificing social time and “really putting our time into our job, and that’s winning the football game on Friday.

“When you’ve got an entire group of young men working toward a common goal and have a really good perspective on the opportunity we have on Friday, I’m not too worried about it.”

Norris said preparation will be much the same ­— keeping things light and having fun at times while ratcheting down when necessary.

“We don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary,” he said.

The training staff, however, has had to go to extremes. It recently “went on a mission” to find mosquito repellent with the highest level of DEET available, Norris said.

“Our training staff is phenomenal,” he said.

Correction: From last week’s article, Zach Weir had the touchdown pass to Caleb Buback against Nicolet.

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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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