No more home woes for Wolverines

GARWIN – Brock Fisher couldn’t remember the last time the Wolverines started the season 2-0.

His head coach couldn’t either.

Though following Mike Spurlin’s mantra of putting the past behind, the GMG football team doesn’t have to pinpoint the exact date in history. Because after holding off a late charge from North Mahaska to preserve a 20-14 win, that moment is happening right now.

Claiming its first 2-0 start since 2005 and it’s first home victory in nearly five years, these Wolverines aren’t much for rehashing the past, but rather grabbing hold of the moment at hand.

“It’s time. It’s time for a change,” said Fisher, reciting the words of his head coach.

“All around we’ve got a new program going.”

The Wolverines had a new program going in the second half as Fisher and Austin Vaughn gashed the Warhawks for a combined 148 rushing yards, bouncing back from the team’s 17-yard output before intermission.

Fisher gave GMG the lead for good at 13-6 with a 26-yard gallop toward the left sideline with 6:52 to play in the third. Four and half minutes later, the senior brought a punt back 60 yards for the touchdown. Fisher broke free from the Warhawks’ first tackle attempt before cutting back to the left where a convoy of blockers paved the way for the score – capping 20 unanswered points from the Wolverines.

Karrson Stodgill kept the Warhawks alive with a one-yard push just five seconds into the fourth before adding the two point conversion to bring the visitors within a score. Stodgill finished with 139 yards on 22 carries, though GMG’s tailback tandem moved the chains enough to keep the ball away from North Mahaska.

Fisher finished with 76 yards on 12 carries, while Vaughn toted the ball 22 times for 104 yards as the Wolverines ran 35 offensive plays in the second half after just 17 in the first.

“We made a couple of adjustments on their linebackers,” Spurlin said of the second-half improvements in the rushing attack.

“We weren’t getting to the linebackers well enough so we could get the ball downfield. We want to work toward that second tier, so we made a couple of adjustments there and things started working.”

The Warhawks (0-2) had nearly everything working on the ground in the first half.

Though when they opted to go to the air – GMG capitalized with three interceptions.

Trent Geiken halted North Mahaska’s promising first drive with a pick at the 10-yard line, though the Wolverines gave the ball right back when Bridger Claassen had his lone misfire with an interception inside GMG territory.

Justin Richards atoned for the pick with a one-yard plunge to give the visitors a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter, though the Wolverines would respond with two more interceptions. Matt Smith snared a Richards pass to set up Vaughn’s 38-yard field goal, before Jacob Burt picked off a ball in the shadow of his own end zone and returned it to near midfield. A 19-yard hook-and-ladder to Fisher and a 16-yard rush from Vaughn, set up the tying score as Vaughn drilled a 31-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter.

“We were down but we weren’t out of it,” Fisher said of the offense’s early struggles.

“We just had to come back strong – we’re a second half team.”

The Wolverines came up empty on their final three drives, though the defense came through late as Geiken knocked away Richard’s final pass to preserve the win.

Richards finished 5-of-18 for 39 yards and three interceptions, while Claassen completed 5-of-6 passes for 66 yards and one pick.

A year after snapping their 26-game losing streak against North Mahaska on the road, the Wolverines ended a 20-game home skid against the Warhawks Friday. Spurlin, who was an assistant coach for a season on the previous staff, has credited the team’s mental approach in turning things around.

“The attitude – it’s the attitude,” Spurlin said.

“We’ve come together and everybody knows we have to work hard. There were kids at the end who were gassed – I know we had (North Mahaska) worn out. We just kept beating on them and our depth really helped us tonight. We’re trying to build, not just for this year but for the next year and the year after.”

Though the Wolverines’ main focus still remains in the here and now, while doing things one step at a time.

“I think they’re buying into it and we’re taking steps in the right direction.”