Grafton still one win away from playoffs

Rivalry game against Port Washington to close out regular season
Ozaukee Press staff

Overmatched on paper and down their top running back, Grafton High School’s football team wouldn’t back down Friday at the home of the North Shore Conference’s second-place team.

The 23-6 final tally in the loss to Slinger doesn’t show how close the game really was.

“It’s a really solid team,” coach Jim Norris said of Slinger.

“Our boys on defense and offense battled. It was 16-6 with four minutes left in the game.”

With top tailback Joey Giorgi out with an ankle injury and with Slinger’s stout defensive front, the Hawks struggled to get its ground game going. The Hawks rushed for 51 yards.

But the Hawks still moved the ball. Quarterbacks Zach Weir and Brady Ward combined for 143 passing yards to five different receivers. Senior Caden Knauer had three catches for 40 yards, and Bryson Clague had three for 36. Dominic Voiland caught two balls for 37 yards, and Caleb Buback three for 24.

But the Hawks also threw two interceptions in the end zone.

“We had our opportunities but weren’t able to capitalize,” Norris said.

The Owls had 214 yards rushing, with 192 and two scores coming from Jared Lighthizer on 40 carries.

Danny Breur went 3-for-5 passing for 51 yards and a touchdown.

For the Hawks, Caden Knauer had 34 yards rushing and a fourth-quarter touchdown that cut the deficit to 16-6.

“He did a good job getting back in the swing of things. He had a really good game,” Norris said.

Defensively, Clague led the Hawks with 15 tackles. Hawk Heffner and Kyle Proefrock each made nine. Isaiah Mielke had seven tackles, and Kenny Likins made six. Ward added five.

“Our whole defense did a really good job,” Norris said, praising Heffner, Proefrock, Likins and the defensive line.

The Owls held a 10-0 lead at halftime, thanks to a 31-yard touchdown pass from Breuer to Hayden Wagner and a 38-yard field goal by Trevor Ulesich. They added a touchdown in the third quarter to go up, 16-0.

After Knauer scored with 9 minutes, 2 seconds left in the game, the Owls answered on an 8-yard touchdown run by Lighthizer with 2:36 to play.

The Owls improved to 7-1 and play at 8-0 Homestead for the NSC title in the regular season finale on Friday.

Grafton is now 4-4 with one more chance to qualify for the postseason, and it comes at home against the Hawks’ biggest rival, Port Washington, which is fighting for a higher playoff seed after winning its fifth game last week.

A victory would mean the first playoff berth since 1997 for Grafton football.

“It’s a huge game. Everyone in the program knows what’s on the line here,” Norris said.

The Hawks will have Giorgi back and will get a couple of more players back from injuries.

Norris said the excitement is building.

“Kids had a really good energy today. Practicing on Monday is never easy,” he said.

“Getting to play at home ‘one last guaranteed time’ for our seniors is awesome. I’m excited for the opportunity.”



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Ozaukee Press

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.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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