After his team won its first game of the season on Sept. 9, Grafton football coach Shaun Behrend was happy about the victory but even more pleased about the way the Black Hawks reacted to it.
Grafton tipped Nicolet, 25-22, on a 23-yard field goal by Jack Orlowski with about 1 minute, 50 seconds left in the contest. The kick capped a 50-yard drive featuring the hard running of Vince Giorgi.
Behrend, though, knew that the winning drive should not have been necessary. The Hawks were up 22-0 at the half, only to see the Knights rally to tie the game at 22-22 in the fourth period.
"This was harder than it should have been," Behrend said. "What was good, though, is that the kids were disappointed about losing the lead. They were satisfied with the win but not satisfied with losing a 22-0 lead in the second half. We're trying to change the culture here, and that attitude will help."
What will also help the Hawks turn around their fortunes is the kind of offense they showed against Nicolet. Quarterback Hayden Proefrock completed 16 of 34 passes for 223 yards and one touchdown, running back Giorgi collected 152 yards rushing on 36 carries and receiver Jack Birch caught six passes for 112 yards.
"We were able to move the ball all night," the coach said.
Grafton got on the board in the first quarter when Proefrock connected with Orlowski on a 28-yard scoring pass.
The Hawks then pushed across 15 points in the second period on a 6-yard run by Giorgi, an 8-yard keeper by Proefrock and a safety on a blocked punt to go up 22-0.
Nicolet came back with 14 points in the third period and eight in the fourth to draw even.
"We stopped their run game all night," Behrend said, "but then they (the Knights) started to throw it around a little and hit some long ones."
Grafton took the ball near midfield and marched about 50 yards to the Nicolet 6, setting up the winning field goal.
Giorgi was the workhorse on that drive with six carries, with Matt Starr having the other two attempts.
"We ran behind our 'Clydesdale' package, with our big linemen," Behrend said. "We had Nate O'Neal, T.J. Stoltman, Connor Ramsey, Jalen Turan and Brady Zwick, and they did a great job. We went with more of a run-heavy package in this game, scheming some runs that we liked against them (the Knights)."
Turan rejoined the team this week, and his return helped give the Hawks more depth, allowing fewer players to go both ways on offense and defense.
Birch had a big game on defense with 10 tackles. Jack Senczyszyn collected seven tackles and Luke Nitz, Alec Davis, Brady Ward and Giorgi each five tackles.
The Hawks next meet Germantown (1-3) at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, at home.