Male Area Athlete of Week: Decker runs Pillager to victory over Crookston
Griffin Decker was seeing green.
The Pillager senior rushed for 127 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns in the Huskies 30-6 win over Crookston Friday, Oct. 30.
Decker’s first score came on a 55-yard run where he nearly went untouched.
“We were running our bread and butter play which is power and the line was making a big hole and I wasn’t getting touched a lot of the time,” Decker said. “It was just a great game overall.”
His vision is what Decker thinks sets him apart as a ball carrier.
“I’m pretty agile and have good speed,” he said. “I've just been able to find the wall more and my blocks better.”
Pillager head coach Paul Peterson thought something clicked Friday that made Decker perform well.
“He was just patient and he’s really starting to get it,” Peterson said. “I’m really happy it started clicking for him against Crookston.
“He has grit. He’s determined. He doesn’t give up and he’s coachable, too. Especially against Crookston, he was following his lineman. He was feeling the hole and that allowed him to have some big runs and big plays. On his long touchdown, he had the vision and the patience that he didn’t even get hit.”
Decker’s second score came on a 1-yard run giving him two first-quarter touchdowns.
“It was really big,” he said of the fast start. “It gives me and the lineman confidence in knowing that they can move the guys on the other side of the ball.”
Offensively, Decker had to wait his turn playing behind Tucker Peterson, who graduated last year. This year, however, he has had to handle the offensive load for Pillager.
“Being stuck behind Tucker Peterson and Luke Woidyla for two years you don’t get your chances offensively,” Peterson said. “He’s played defense for us since he was a freshman.”
Decker is one of many ball carriers for the Huskies. Pillager runs a tight formation and doesn't throw very often. Huskies’ quarterback Blake Clark also rushed for two touchdowns in the win over Crookston.
“It’s really fun for all of us because we are a really tight-knit group of guys,” Decker said. “It gives the defense a lot more they have to worry about because they have to game plan for three people.”
On the season, Decker leads the team in rushing with 322 yards and three touchdowns. Hunter Gjovik is second with 173 yards and three touchdowns and Quintin Laveau is third with 142 yards and two touchdowns.
“It’s really fun to have all those guys,” Peterson said. “They are all physical ball carriers. They all want to get the ball and when they do they give it their all.”
Before the season, Decker was named captain by the coaching staff because of his work ethic.
“We pegged it last year in the offseason,” Peterson said. “He’s always been the kid in his class to work hard and do what the coaches ask. He’s a football player, baseball player, basketball player and he’s able to fit everything in. Poor kid was almost burning himself off. Before the season, we named him captain because he was doing all the right things and modeling that.”
Decker has been a staple in the Huskies’ secondary for a while and even though got only 13 carries for 65 yards last season Peterson knew he had a good halfback for 2020.
“He got sparing carries last year and we saw something every time he got carries so we knew we had something with him,” Peterson said. “And now we get him for a full year … well kind of.”
Decker has been happy to help on the field and in the classroom.
“A lot of the guys need guidance in school,” Decker said. “We don’t want guys to be out because of grades, and guidance is really key especially for the underclassman.”
Decker says he lives in the weight room which is why he has improved so much in 2020.
“It’s just working hard,” he said. “The weight room for a football player is the biggest key to being better. Being bigger, faster, stronger.”
Moving forward, Decker hopes to play football in college.
“I’m not sure where I am going to college yet, but I have an interest in playing football after high school,” he said.
Peterson hopes to see him play at the next level.
“I know he wants to play college football,” he said. “We would really like to see him above and beyond.”
Other notable performances:
Football: Bode Magnuson, Pequot Lakes, rushed for 81 yards on 22 carries and threw for 129 yards and two touchdowns.
Ryan Monahan, Pequot Lakes, caught seven passes for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
Zak Olsson, Verndale, accumulated 124 yards from scrimmage and scored two touchdowns.
Payton Rondestvedt, Wadena-Deer Creek, rushed for 90 yards on 15 carries and threw for 156 yards with three total touchdowns.
Michael Leidenfrost, Pierz, rushed for 111 yards on 23 carries and one touchdown.
CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.
Position: Running back and safety
Highlights: He rushed for 127 yards on 15 carries and scored two touchdowns.