PREP FOOTBALL: Grafton will be facing single-wing attack in Beulah
Saturday's six-hour, 302-mile one-way trip to Beulah is not the biggest concern of Tom Maus, Grafton's football coach. No, it isn't bus-lag. It's the Beulah offense that was popular 60 years ago that has Maus fretting. "We have a nice charter bus...
Saturday’s six-hour, 302-mile one-way trip to Beulah is not the biggest concern of Tom Maus, Grafton’s football coach.
No, it isn’t bus-lag. It’s the Beulah offense that was popular 60 years ago that has Maus fretting.
“We have a nice charter bus, so I think we’ll be all right there,” he said. “No yellow school buses for us.”
The Spoilers will be departing at 7 a.m., bringing along their pre-game meal of sandwiches. Game time is 2:30 p.m. in Beulah, which has the fitting nickname of Miners since it is often informally referred to as the “Energy Capital of North Dakota.”
The visitors will be facing a single-wing attack that Beulah coach Jim Dooley proudly calls “the 1948 Michigan Wolverines offense with some modern things throw in.”
The offense may have a long, gray beard, but it has proven effective for the 7-2 Miners, who host 6-3 Grafton in the quarterfinals of the Class AA playoffs.
“They bunch everyone in tight together and use a lot of misdirection, so we’ll have to be assignment-sharp on defense,” Maus said. “It’s an old-school offense where they hide the ball. They sometimes even snap the ball directly to a running back.”
Although the Spoilers pass considerably more often than his Miners, Dooley said he sees a lot of similarities between the teams.
“We’re both under-sized teams that rely on our athletes getting the ball in space,” Dooley said. “They do it with passes and a lot of motion and sweeps. We do it with a lot of misdirection and also some power.”
No matter what Grafton does offensively, Zak Hernandez is spotlighted. The 180-pound senior leads the Spoilers in rushing yards (737) and receiving yards (541). Quarterback Hunter Baldwin has thrown for 1,234 yards and 13 touchdowns.
“We have a diverse offense and spread the ball around, but Zak is definitely our go-to guy,” Maus said. “He makes a lot of plays. He’s also double-teamed wherever he goes, so that gets the other guys one-on-one coverage.”
The Miners, who have a six-game winning streak to finish second in the West Region of Class AA, have gained three-fourths of their yardage on the ground. In contrast, Grafton will sometimes put five potential receivers on the flanks. With no regular more than 190 pounds, the Spoilers need to pass around or run around - not over - opponents.
“The key will be to handle all their misdirection,” Maus said. “They have elusive players, so we need to take away the big plays and make them drive on us. Most of their scores come on big plays.”
Bakken can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .