GRAFTON - What's up front counted big for Grafton on Saturday.
The Spoilers' line units dominated as Grafton handed Carrington a 44-6 defeat in the quarterfinals of the North Dakota Class AA high school football playoffs.
Grafton had 229 yards rushing (4.8 per-carry average) and held a 289-102 advantage in total offense. Carrington coach Marty Hochhalter looked at the blockers, not the ball carriers, for that discrepancy in yardage.
"They're a great team,'' Hochhalter said. "They took it to us with their physicality. They dominated up front. And their quarterback (Christian Lunde) is one of the best around.''
Big yardage is nothing new for the 9-1 Spoilers. They averaged 277.4 yards per game and 6.5 yards per carry during the season.
"We've been getting good pushes up front all year,'' Grafton senior tackle Zach Peterson said. "I think we're a good blocking unit. We're all executing. And Christian is reading the holes really well.''
Grafton established its ground game early behind the blocking unit of tackles Peterson and Jaime Villarreal, guards Shane Burns and Jose Martinez and center Sergio Quijano. Its first four plays included runs of 10 yards by Lunde, 11 yards by Julian Martinez and 14 yards by Austin Contreras. That started a 60-yard drive capped by a 1-yard scoring run by Lunde.
Grafton led 8-0 after one quarter, then broke the game open with 30 second-quarter points.
Lunde scored again on a 1-yard run, then passed for two scores. Zak Hernandez hauled in a 23-yard pass in the end zone despite tight coverage, then Trevor McMartin caught a 29-yard touchdown pass on the right sideline.
"We set the tone right away with some big runs,'' Grafton coach Tom Maus said. "We controlled the line on both sides of the ball. That's been the key for us all year, what we've done up front.''
The defense got into the scoring act when Peterson registered a sack, forcing a fumble that Garek Droog picked up and returned for a 28-yard touchdown with 18 seconds left in the first half.
"We've only had one defensive touchdown all year before that,'' Maus said. "We haven't forced as many turnovers as we'd like. But the kids stepped up today. It was aggressiveness, 11 guys getting to the ball.''
Lineman-turned-fullback Travis Dolan added a 5-yard scoring run in the third quarter for Grafton. Carrington got on the scoreboard on the game's final play when Brady Bickett hauled in a 5-yard pass from Brady Smith.
Lunde finished with 98 yards rushing and 57 passing, completing all four of his pass attempts, to pace the offense for the Spoilers. Martinez added 78 yards on the ground.