The team celebrates after winning the Section 5A final (Serena Omangi)
The team celebrates after winning the Section 5A final

Serena Omangi

A target on their back

November 8, 2017

As the snowflakes began to fall, and the last whistle was heard on Friday, Nov. 3, the OHS Football team secured their ticket to state with a 37-0 victory over Rochester Century in the section 1AAAAA championship game. The team overcame many challenges this season, yet they regained their spot in the Minnesota Class 5A State Tournament for the second year in a row. This team was also the seventh team in school history to win the football section title on Friday. Owatonna will now compete amongst the eight other section 5A title winners in the 2017 Minnesota State High School Tournament.

The Huskies road to the state tournament was not easy. The team started the season off with a target on their back. Having participated in the state tournament last season, other teams had their Owatonna game marked on their calendar with a red circle. The team has truly taken this to heart and has made it something they use to motivate themselves as they overcome adversity.

After a winning a close battle with the Austin Packers in the second round of sections with a score of 62-41, the Huskies knew that they needed to step up their game to beat the Panthers. In fact, they believed they would be playing the Northfield Raiders -who they had lost to earlier in the season- but they had been upset by Rochester Century. The Huskies had faced Century earlier in the regular season with an easy 46-7 victory, but this game was different. The Panthers had some momentum coming their way; the Huskies had more.

With an early touchdown from senior Noah Budach, the team was off to an early 7-0 lead. Century was never able to recover.  Passes were incomplete, turnovers were seen too often, and the Panthers were shut down. Junior Jason Williamson had a total of three interceptions, which helped keep the defense off the field as well as add momentum to the team. Senior defensive back Parker Westphal said, “It was a great experience to be a part of, sweet to win it and everyone was playing at one hundred percent.” Effort was poured in by both the offense and the defense. The team looks forward to continuing their season. Westphal said, “I am looking forward to playing someone who we have not seen a lot; it will be another good challenge for the team.”

The coaching staff is also looking forward to being able to progress deeper into the season. “Anytime you can play for a chance to play indoors, that’s a good thing. If you’re still playing in November that is awesome. Now the next challenge is to find a way into US Bank Stadium,” said head coach Mr. Jeff Williams. One of the team’s primary goals is to make it back into the “bank”. This is almost every team’s goal, but few achieve this.

In order to accomplish these goals the team they have had some great leadership. This has come in many forms, starting with senior captains Abe Havelka, Mitch Wiese, Zach Mensink and Alex Raichle. The four are helping the team prepare. Havelka said , “We are setting the tone of practices by working hard, encouraging and helping out teammates to the best of our abilities.”

The Owatonna Huskies Football team will play the Mahtomedi Zephyrs on Saturday, Nov. 11, at 6:00 p.m. at Lakeville North football field to advance to the semifinals of state. The Zephyrs are the best team the Huskies will have played so far this season. Coach Jeff Williams said, “We have some film on them, as well as an extra day of practice. With the chance of weather not being good we had to make extra sure we had a great game plan this week.”

The Huskies will play at Lakeville North on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 6:00 p.m. A win over the Zephyrs will result in a second round matchup against the winner of St. Louis Park and Brainerd.

The OHS Activities Office is planning a send off for Friday.

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