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Starpoint Debuts New Field With Win Over Grand Island

New era, same results for the Starpoint High School football team.

Playing under the lights at home for the first time in program history, the Spartans made big plays all night long and posted their 10th straight regular season win, a 36-19 victory over rival Grand Island in a battle of unbeatens at Tudor Stadium.

“It feels amazing,” Starpoint sophomore quarterback Aaron Chase said. “That’s a great way to bring in the new stadium and we want it to continue.”

The packed house in Pendleton was loud right from the start and got even louder on the home team’s second drive when Tajay Ahmed showed off his speed on that new turf, racing 81 yards for a touchdown. The Spartans never gave up that lead.

“That was just great blocking,” Ahmed said. “That was a great feeling. We have great fans and it was amazing to win like that in the first game on our new turf.”

Things got even better for the Spartans when Grand Island turned the ball over on its next possession and Chase found Anthony Robinson for a 4-yard TD. The Spartans extended the lead to 16-0 on a second-quarter safety.

But the Vikings, led by quarterback Cam Sionko, showed they weren’t going to go quietly. The sophomore quarterback found Zane Johnson for a touchdown on the final play of the first half and then hit Will Hughes for another score on Grand Island’s first drive of the second half.

But the Spartans soon grabbed control for good. Touchdown runs by Ahmed and Terry Rutland and then a TD pass from Chase to Max Bowden sealed the deal for Starpoint (3-0 overall, 2-0 Class A North).

“We just focused on doing things better,” Ahmed said. “We were working harder and giving that little bit more effort.”

In all, Starpoint gained more than 350 yards on the ground and had two runners top 100 yards. Rutland ran for 122 and Ahmed picked up another 103. Chase rushed for another 74 – to go along with his 171 yards passing and Robinson ran for 47 yards and collected 111 total yards from scrimmage.

And that came against a Grand Island team that gave up just 20 total points in its first two games.

“We’ve got to be better on tackling,” Grand Island coach Dean Santorio said. “We’ve been tackling great for two weeks … and I know their backs are good and I know they’re strong and I know they’re quick, but we believe in our guys to make tackles.”

Sionko finished with 176 yards passing to lead Grand Island. He was carried off the field after being sacked early in the fourth quarter. Santorio said it seemed similar to the high ankle sprain Sionko suffered last season during basketball.

He was replaced by senior Connor Buzby, the team’s former starting quarterback who showed he’s still more than capable, firing a late 30-yard touchdown to Johnson.

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