WATERLOO (KWWL) --Twelve months ago it was heartache for the Grundy Center Spartans.
“It sucked," recalls senior lineman Wes Willis, "We all knew we were so close.”
In the end the Spartans fell just short of West Hancock in the 2019 class A championship game.
“We learned a lot about ourselves," adds head coach Travis Zajac, "and we brought back almost all those kids.”
What those kids learned will lead to another shot. The Spartans, a surprise team in 2019, spent 2020 with a target on their backs, passing every test along the way.
“Last year it was like we were just accomplishing things that us, nor anyone else thought we could," says senior running back Zach Opheim, "and this year it feels like we're chasing something.”
For Opheim, it's his last chance at that chase. Currently the third leading rusher in class A, he combined with Spartan quarterback Logan Knaack to rush for over 3,000 yards behind a line that returned all 5 starters this season.
“Their physicality is impressive," says Zajac of the Spartan's line, "All of them worked incredibly hard in the offseason to get stronger, and we're reaping the benefits of that.”
Now all that's left is a date with perennial powerhouse Iowa City Regina, a big one that Willis hopes is just the beginning of a new Spartan era.
“Hopefully we can get Grundy Center to be in that conversation every year, too.”