High School Football: Pillager’s strong ground game helps them win Week One

S-M put together back-to-back scoring drives to make it 38-19 but it was too little, too late for the Cardinals.

Pillager's Quintin Laveau runs with the ball as Staples-Motley's Chandler Braith (84) and Max Strickland defend and Pillager's Griffin Decker blocks Friday, Oct. 9, at Pillager High School. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

PILLAGER — Three different Pillager Huskies scored rushing touchdowns as they rushed for 245 yards as a team in a 38-19 victory over the Staples-Motley Cardinals Friday, Oct. 9, in Week One action.

Griffin Decker led the rushing attack with 79 yards on 17 carries, followed by Quintin Laveau with 70 yards on 13 carries.

“We are lucky because that’s the kind of way our program rolls,” Pillager head coach Paul Peterson said. “We usually have three or four good running backs — the backups are pretty good, too — so we have some depth, but not a lot of experience yet.”

After a Cardinals punt started the game, it was Laveau who found the end zone from 7 yards out to put Pillager on the board.

S-M answered right back to tie the game 6-6 when Sivert Klefsaas scored on a 2-yard run.


Klefsaas paced the Cardinal offense rushing for 147 yards on 22 carries.


Pillager 38, Staples-Motley 19

Key: Pillager’s rushing attack proved to be enough as three different Husky running backs found the endzone.

District: Pil 1-0, S-M 0-1.

Overall: Pil 1-1, S-M 0-1.

Next: Pillager hosts Otter Tail Central 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15; Staples-Motley hosts West Central Area/Ashby 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16.


“I’m liking the kid,” S-M head coach Chris Kappler said of Klefsaas. “Last year he was a sophomore. We didn’t ask him much other than to play. He was fun to watch tonight. He made some hard cuts and was seeing the field a lot better. I believe he could be an impact player on any team.”


Pillager scored 16 unanswered points headed into halftime on a Laveau 16-yard run and a Hunter Gjovik 5-yard run.

Gjovik’s touchdown was set up by a halfback pass thrown by Decker to Laveau that netted 36 yards.

“We have the halfback pass in our playbook every year,” Peterson said. “When you have a kid like Laveau who is fast it’s nice to have that little threat.”

S-M tried to mount a drive at the end of the first half before Decker picked off Cardinals quarterback Isaiah Schultz on the last play of the half.

The Huskies received the ball to start the second half and scored on an eight minute, 14 play drive that ended with a Decker 3-yard touchdown. Pillager used a gate formation on two-point attempts and was successful three times including after the Decker touchdown.

“We’ve run (the gate) for years,” Peterson said. “And it’s fun because it’s hard to prepare for and it’s good to have some success with it.”

Pillager increased its lead to 38-6 at the beginning of the fourth quarter when Gjovik scored his second touchdown of the game from 10 yards out.


“We were a little thin on depth so we have to coach up our young guys,” Kappler said. “I really think it was a lack of conditioning and all teams are really dealing with what COVID did to us and the craziness of the preseason.”

S-M put together back-to-back scoring drives to make it 38-19 but it was too little, too late for the Cardinals.

S-M fullback Hunter Martin scored 4 yards out and caught a touchdown pass from Schultz from 9 yards against a Pillager defense that mostly had backups in.

“They only scored one touchdown on our starting defense,” Peterson said. “We started getting some of our young guys in there and it’s good for them to get that late fourth quarter experience, but they are not there yet. It’s good to give them some reps though.”

Schultz finished the game completing 10-of-30 passes for 93 yards and two interceptions.

Peterson said the Huskies benefited from playing a Week Zero game against Barnesville last Saturday while Kappler felt his Cardinals were a little out of shape.

“We played a really good team last week and that gave us some confidence playing on that short week,” Peterson said. “We got a lot of young guys going and we got better throughout the game.”


The Huskies outgained the Cardinals 245-158 on the ground and 320-251 total.

“We are just going to keep building,” Peterson said. “We got a lot of guys some playing time and now we can see where guys are going to start to fit because we graduated a big senior class last year.”

Staples-Motley 0 6 0 13 — 19
Pillager 6 16 8 8 — 38

First quarter
Pil-Quintin Laveau 7 yard run (run failed) 3:20
Second quarter
SM-Sivert Klefsaas 2 yard run (kick failed) 8:12
Pil-Laveau 16 yard run (Cole Hiltner pass from Blake Clark) 2:56
Pil-Hunter Gjovik 5 yard run (Clark run) 0:47
Third quarter
Pil-Griffin Decker 3 yard run (AJ Gratke pass from Clake) 4:31
Fourth quarter
Pil-Gjovik 10 yard run (Gjovik run) 9:34
SM-Hunter Martin 4 yard run (Dominic Gomez kick) 8:24
SM-Martin 9 yard pass from Isaiah Schultz (kick failed) 5:04
Team statistics
Rushes-yards: Pil 60-245, S-M 25-158
Pass comp-att-int-yds: Pil 3-8-0-75 , S-M 10-31-2-93
Total offense: Pil 63-320, S-M 56-251


Individual leaders
Rushing: Pil-Griffin Decker 17-79, Quintin Laveau 13-70, Hunter Gjovik 14-59, Blake Clark 5-14, Cyle Westman 2-8; S-M-Sivert Klfsaas 22-147, Hunter Martin 2-13
Passing: Pil Blake Clake 2-5-41, Griffin Decker 1-1-36; S-M-Isaiah Schultz 10-30-2-93
Receiving: Pil-Quintin Laveau 2-63, Hunter Gjovik 1-8; S-M-Sivert Klefsaas 3-34, Hunter Martin 2-21, Chandler Braith 2-21, Dayton Anderson 2-11

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

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