Josh Olerud (below), #51 Brady Schuttemeier and #13 Matthew Schleich bring down the Superlarks’ Landon Jacobson.
Josh Olerud (below), #51 Brady Schuttemeier and #13 Matthew Schleich bring down the Superlarks’ Landon Jacobson.
Grand Meadow quarterback Trenton Bleifus threw for three touchdowns and ran for a fourth as the Superlarks defeated Spring Grove 25-6 in the Section 1 championship game on Nov. 3.

The junior passer threw 11 times with eight completions and a single interception, recording 196 airmail yards while rushing for another 68 yards on 17 carries.

As effective as the GM offense was, the Larks won the game with defense. The Lions were held to 209 total yards of offense, their fewest of the season.

Spring Grove senior quarterback Blaine Storlie shared KFIL-radio Player of the Game honors with Bleifus, completing four of 17 passes for 43 yards and no interceptions. He also rushed 12 times for 19 yards.

The KFIL Game Ball winner was GM senior tight end Mike Ojulu, who caught two passes for 95 yards and a touchdown.

The Lions entered the contest ranked No. 3 in the 9-man Associated Press Poll, while the teams were tied at No. 10 in QRF computer standings. Host Spring Grove was seeded No. 1 in the section while GM was No. 2.

Spring Grove fullback Josh Olerud got off on the right foot, rambling 69 yards for a touchdown on the game's first play from scrimmage.

Unfortunately for the Lions, that would be the only SG play that went for more than 16 yards. The lone score for the home team came at a heavy price.

Junior Caleb Happel threw a key block to open a lane for his teammate only to re-injure an ailing ankle, keeping him sidelined for the rest of the game.

Olerud, who also sprained an ankle in the first quarter, then had a target painted on his jersey. Without Happel to share ball-carrying duties, GM keyed on the senior, limiting the damage that the Lion running game could inflict.

Olerud finished with a game-high 141 yards on 19 carries, but the Lions only averaged three yards per carry after Happel had to sit down. Happel ended the year as the Lions' second leading rusher and tackler.

Spring Grove did not fumble, had no turnovers and only one penalty on offense, but could not crack a Superlark defense that coach Gary Sloan told KFIL-Radio was the speediest overall in his many years at GM.

The Superlarks out-gained the Lions by only three yards on the ground, but enjoyed a passing margin of over four to one.

Spring Grove gained its entire passing yardage after the final score was achieved.

On third and fourth-down passing situations, the Superlarks blanketed Lion receivers. Spring Grove went 0 for 6 in the air until the final possession.

Bleifus overthrew his first wide-open receiver but hit Bryce Benson behind the Spring Grove secondary on a fourth-down pass for 31 yards to tie the score late in the first quarter.

On another big fourth-down play, a 31-yard run by Perry Stejskal, set up a 7-yard TD pass from Bleifus to Benson for a 12-6 lead.

It was still 12-6 when Bleifus opened the fourth quarter with a 62-yard touchdown pass to Ojulu. The final score came on an 8-yard quarterback keeper, which capped a 7-play, 59-yard possession.

The Lions mounted a 16-play drive late in the game with Storlie completing four throws, including a 16-yard connection to Mitchell Anderson followed by 9 and 4-yard tosses to Matt Schleich.

A 14-yard screen pass to Brady Schuttemeier went down to the GM 16. However, after a third sack by Benson and three incompletions, it was over for the Spring Grove offense.

The Lions' 209 total yards of offense wasn't much lower than the 224 they recorded in their SEC championship win over GM. The difference in the rematch was that the Lions could not come up with the big pass play or big turnover deep in GM territory as they had in October.

At linebacker, Storlie had a career-high 16 tackles including two for a loss and blocked a GM extra-point kick.

Brandon Schuttemeier with a career-high 14 tackles, Alex Engelhardt with a career-high 10 tackles including two sacks, and Brady Schuttemeier (8 tackles, one sack) were as usual part of a strong pass rush.

Olerud at linebacker had 11 tackles and an interception, while Schleich at safety had 10.

Senior cornerback Spencer Dunn had seven tackles in his final Spring Grove game. It was also the finale for four other seniors - Olerud, Storlie, Brandon Schuttemeier and Tanguy de Monval.

Spring Grove's conference championship season ends with a 10-1 record. GM ended a three-game losing streak to Spring Grove, including last year's section title game. The Superlarks take a 10-1 record into the Friday state quarterfinal versus Mountain Lake Area (8-2).

In the eight sections, only three No. 1 seeds advance to this week's state tournament. GM is one of three No. 2 seeds to qualify. A pair of No. 3 seeds includes Wheaton-Herman-Norcross, which edged out Spring Grove in last year's state quarterfinals.