LINCOLN — Grand Island Senior High’s Trevor Wojtalewicz didn’t allow the disappointment of not winning the starting quarterback job get him down.
In fact, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound senior’s willingness to let his talents shine helped lift the Islanders as Grand Island rolled to a 54-14 victory over Lincoln Northeast on Thursday night at Seacrest Field. Starting as a wide receiver, Wojtalewicz scored the game’s first two touchdowns and finished with five receptions for 90 yards, helping quarterback Pierce Almond to also enjoy a big night.
"Trevor is a team guy — he’s all team," Grand Island coach Jeff Tomlin said. "He’s one of our heart-and-soul guys. Trevor and Pierce were both going to start either way, whether it was at quarterback or wide receiver. They were both willing to do whatever it takes to be a good teammate.
"We knew Trevor could be a pretty significant receiver."
Wojtalewicz proved his coach to be right almost immediately. He opened the scoring by catching a 27-yard TD pass from Almond to give the Islanders (1-0) a 7-0 lead with 10:31 remaining in the first quarter. Wojtalewicz then capped GISH’s second possession, hauling in an 11-yard scoring pass from Almond to make it 14-0.
"All the way riding here on the bus, I kept thinking, ‘I’m going to score a touchdown tonight,’" Wojtalewicz said. "Fortunately, I got two. It just felt great to contribute."
Wojtalewicz’s receptions helped Almond get off to a fast start. The 6-2, 175-pound junior hit 19-of-23 pass attempts for 277 yards and three TDs, completing passes to 10 different receivers.
"I loved it," Wojtalewicz said of Almond’s performance. "Coming into this year, I knew that Pierce has a better arm than me and it was going to be a position battle based on leadership. He stepped up, won the job and I decided to go out and play split (end)."
Almond said having a receiver with Wojtalewicz’s abilities is a major weapon.
"It’s a lot easier to be throwing to a 6-3 guy than someone who is 5-8, so on those fade patterns, we definitely look to him," Almond said. "He’s taller, he can jump higher and he’s a great asset."
Grand Island led 21-0 after Almond’s 47-yard TD pass to Andrew Rojas with 1:34 left in the first quarter. However, the Rockets (0-1) quickly got back into the game on Makiah Slade’s 80-yard TD reception down the sideline on a wheel route and a 44-yard interception return for a score by Mitchell Bruns on a tipped ball.
"I was mainly interested, at that point, in watching how our kids responded," Tomlin said. "I thought we responded really well. They didn’t get their dobbers down. We knocked that field goal in, got a little momentum and then continued to play fast."
Grand Island answered with Brendan Wentling’s 32-yard field goal early in the second quarter and the Islanders took control from there. Rojas scored on a 5-yard TD run and GISH turned a Northeast fumble into a 5-yard scoring run by Almond to lead 37-14 at halftime.
Grand Island’s quick-tempo offense wore the Rockets down in the second half. The Islanders punted just once in the game and finished with 20 first downs and 440 yards of total offense.
"Pierce did a great job of just managing our offense, making calls and making reads," Tomlin said. "With our offense, there’s a lot of reading involved. The quarterbacks put in a lot of time and that’s all coach Russ Harvey, coach Joe Wells and Clint Cunningham. Our offensive coaching staff won’t be outworked."
Almond finished the game by completing 10 of his final 11 pass attempts.
"We had a great summer with a lot of running and conditioning because we knew we were going to play at a fast tempo and try to get people on their heels," Almond said. "It was great to see all our hard work come out tonight and pay off.
"Everything felt really good today. Everyone was running the right routes, the line blocked well and the backs ran hard — it was a perfect night."
Tomlin said it was a good start for the Islanders, who debuted new uniforms for the season opener. Grand Island wore black pants, white jerseys with black numbers and purple trim and purple helmets.
"I’m proud of our effort and proud of our kids," Tomlin said. "They played fast. They have worked hard all during the offseason — as we always do — but this group has really answered the bell.
"It’s just a start, though. We’ve got a lot of things we need to work on, but it is a decent start."
Grand Island (1-0) ..................... 21 16 10 7—54
Lincoln Northeast (0-1) .............. 14 0 0 0—14
GI—Trevor Wojtalewicz 27 pass from Pierce Almond (Brendan Wentling kick), 10:31.
GI—Wojtalewicz 16 pass from Almond (Wentling kick), 5:44.
GI—Andrew Rojas 47 pass from Almond (Wentling kick), 1:34.
LNE—Makiah Slade 80 pass from Derrick Curtis (Matt Hellbusch kick), 1:18.
LNE—Mitchell Bruns 44 interception return (Hellbusch kick), :17.
GI—Wentling 32 field goal, 10:02.
GI—Rojas 5 run (Wentling kick), 6:34.
GI—Almond 5 run (kick failed), 5:50.
GI—Rojas 1 run (Wentling kick), 7:25.
GI—Wentling 32 field goal, 2:55.
GI—Leighton Kier 5 run (Wentling kick), 4:23.
Rushing—GI, Redwine 5-49, Rojas 11-42, Mayer 8-36, Kier 7-30, Almond 2-5, Knuth 3-4, Barnes 4-2, Shriner 1-minus 5. LNE, Slade 9-80, Curtis 4-minus 1, Prince 6-18, Hegeholz5-17, Spencer 1-7, Connaster 3-4.
Passing—GI, Amond 19-23-1 277. LNE, Curtis 4-9-0 127.
Receiving—GI, Wojtalewicz 5-90, Mayer 3-38, Venegas 3-37, Rojas 2-57, Kier 1-18, Metz 1-15, Roberg 1-12, Shuck 1-10, Knuth 1-5, Shriner 1-minus 5.