Fierce defenders and big plays on offense were the keys to Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley's first state title.
Usually overshadowed by its high-scoring offense, Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley's defense enjoyed a chance to stand out.
The Wolverines slowly discouraged a Grand Meadow offense that scored 61 points in the semifinals by holding it scoreless for two quarters on Friday at the Metrodome. The defensive stand fueled C-G-B's 40-22 victory over the Superlarks in the Nine-man title game.
"Our goal was to shut them out right away," C-G-B defensive end Ethan Chase said. "This is the first time we were bigger than someone, and we wanted to play physical. We had a game plan, and everyone executed it."
Chase's execution was nearly perfect. He finished with three sacks for 32 yards in losses and helped hold the Superlarks to 55 first-half yards.
After a scoreless first 12 minutes, the attention returned to the Wolverines' offense that averaged 52.8 points per game entering the state tournament. Jason Montonye scored 33 seconds into the second quarter for the first of six C-G-B touchdowns.
"We set the tone right away," said Montonye, who also plays defense like most starters for the Wolverines (13-0). "We kept them in front of us for the most part."
Grand Meadows (12-2) couldn't say the same. Big plays accounted for five of C-G-B's scores, three by Montonye. He scored the game's first two touchdowns with runs of 51 and 49 yards and later returned a kickoff 82 yards.
The other two bursts were a 73-yard touchdown run by Austin Maanum with 9 seconds left in the first half and a 39-yard run by Damon Gibson in the third quarter.
"I thought our offensive line was great." Montonye said. "You could have drove a truck through those [holes]."
Grand Meadow's offense came to life in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter when quarterback Trenton Bleifus connected for a pair of touchdowns with Mike Ojulu. But the Superlarks trailed 40-8 when their rally began. Too great a margin.
"We didn't know how physical they'd be," said Bleifus, who threw for 217 yards and three touchdowns but was sacked six times. "I thought it all would be a defensive battle. But big plays killed us."
G-C-B, which lost in the 2008 Prep Bowl, completed its perfect season by rushing for 393 yards.