Long runs fuel big Spartan win

GRUNDY CENTER – Grundy Center took the long route – as in long runs – on the way to its first football playoff victory since 1988 when the team took the state title.

The Spartans (7-3) rattled off scoring runs of 85, 79 and 60 yards in a 53-13 Class A first round playoff victory over the visiting Starmont Stars.

It didn’t take long for the big plays to surface and to get the home fans excited. Freshman Bryce Flater took a handoff on a counter play and ran 60 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.

A few minutes later, Spartan quarterback Brock Rohler found Flater for a 5-yard touchdown pass to put the home team up 13-0 just three minutes into the first quarter. The second touchdown was set up by a recovery of a fumble by the Grundy Center defense.

Grundy Center coach Brent Thoren thought his team came out ready to play.

“I was pleasantly surprised with how we came right out and matched their intensity,” Thoren said.

The rest of the half the Spartans continued to have things go their way – especially for the senior running back Jordan Clapp. Clapp scored on three runs in the half including a 79 yard run down the left sideline – part of his four-touchdown night.

“We got great blocking up front,” Clapp said.

Nick Mauer had a long punt return to set up Clapp’s third rushing score of the day.

A fellow Jordan got into the act – Jordan Stoner – at the end of the first half for the home team.

Stoner reeled in a 41-yard touchdown catch down the middle of the field on a pass from Rohler with less than a minute left in the second quarter. The score by the 6-foot-4 receiver put the Spartans up 39-0 at halftime.

Clapp then darted away to an 85-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. A stingy Spartan defense didn’t give up a score until a Stars touchdown with 2.8 seconds left in the third quarter.

“Our kids played fundamentally sound and we had a lot of people to the ball,” Thoren said of his defense.

Flater scored on an 11-yard touchdown run and Starmont’s Gabe Hamlett ran for his second score as the lone tallies put up in the fourth quarter.

Clapp finished with 197 yards rushing on 13 carries. Flater chipped in 107 yards on the ground.

Clapp was happy to be able to deliver a playoff win so long in the making for Grundy Center.

“It feels awesome,” he said. “The community is behind us the whole way.”

Starmont ends its season with a record of 5-5. Next up for Grundy Center is a second-round game with second-ranked Wapsie Valley (10-0) in Fairbank at 7 p.m. Monday. Thoren said his team can play loose as they play the role of underdogs taking on the defending champions.

“Super excited,” he said of the second round game. “We have no pressure on us going into it.”