November 26, 2017
All in. These are the words that ring through the ears of the young men wearing the silver helmets – the words that ring through the ears of the Minnesota State High School 5A Champions the Owatonna Huskies. The Huskies ended their season with an overall record of 12-1 and with a ring on their finger. The soul crushing win over the Elk River Elks in the Championship game; 63-26, allowed the Huskies to end their season with a victory, which only few teams in the state are able to do.
The Owatonna Football team brought the championship back to Owatonna, not only for themselves, but also for the city of Owatonna. This was shown in part by the police escort given on the way out of town, as well as the police escort to the high school after the team had made their way back into town. Coach Jeff Williams said,
“Owatonna is so supportive of our kids and it is fun to give them the kind of season we had this year.” This feeling was not lost on the players as well. Senior captain Mitchell Wiese said, “It feels good because we have such great support from our fans.” The community has supported the football program from day one, whether it meant purchasing the infamous ‘Husky Cards,’ attending games at Lakeville North in the cold or supporting them in US Bank Stadium. The Huskies were shown the height of their support when they were awarded a key to the City of Owatonna. Senior captain Abe Havelka will always remember from this season, he said, “I’ll never forget hearing our crowd roar behind us when they announced us (the team) during the championship game.”
After suffering a crushing defeat from the Elks in the 2016 semifinals with a score of 19-7, the Huskies were thirsty for revenge. With 13 starters from the 2016 team returning, this meant more to them than any game they had played all season. This game was not necessarily a championship game to them, but one they had been waiting to play all season. Wiese said, “It’s great because last year when we lost it left a bad taste in our mouths, and we thought we came up short.” The Huskies were not going to fall short again. Havelka said, “Throughout the year we needed to take it game by game, but in the back of our minds, we thought we would see them again, and when we got the chance, we executed.”
The Huskies did exactly that. They executed. The team knew that Elk River’s complex offense was going to be hard to stop, but that did not discourage the team at all. The Huskies never relented. Whether it was a 29 yard fumble recovery by Tucker Alstead for a touchdown, or a 67 yard kick return by Jason Williamson earning six points, the Huskies never stopped. To top it all off senior Josh Nelson was successful on all point after attempts, which made the blue machine even harder to stop. The Huskies demoralized the Elks play after play, and when they thought they could get back into the game, the defense shut the door and the offense marched down the field. Head coach Jeff Williams understated how the team played by saying, “The boys played good.” Well, the boys played great.
The defense held the Elks to a season low of season low of 406 yards total – 333 were rushing yards. Senior Cole Rocha led the defense with a total of 15 tackles. When the defense was not stopping the run, the Offense was averaging 9.5 yards per rush, and 12.5 yards per passing attempt. The Elk River defense had a hard time stopping everything, and that is how the Huskies were able to trample them to victory. Williams said, “Beating the team that ended our season a year ago was nice, but I am just happy that we were able to help our kids achieve their dream.”
With this victory, the Huskies for the second time in four years have brought back the championship trophy. Havelka said, regarding what made this team special, “Our dedication and faith in each other to push each other everyday.” With a great group of captains and team leaders, the team was able to achieve unparalleled success. Wiese added to that by saying, “It was the bond we had with one another.” The team was able to push each other to be the best they could be, and the Huskies broke many of their own records throughout season.
Owatonna Football will graduate over 30 members of this team. On defense, they will lose starting linebackers Cole Rocha and Zach Mensink. In the defensive back position they will lose starters Tucker Alstead, Parker Westphal, Alex Raichle who have been two very important keys to Owatonna’s pass defense and have made it difficult for most teams to throw the ball. Moving onto the defensive end position the team will lose another two year starter Mitchell Wiese. Finally, at the defensive line position, the team will lose, Kadyn Mulert and Kade Serbus who have been essential to stopping the run game.
On the offensive side of the ball the Huskies will suffer far more losses. Starting with the Offensive line, they will lose Terrell Conner, Andy Jensen, Brody Veach, Kadyn Mulert and center Dylan Meier. In the backfield, they will lose starting fullback Mitch Wiese, as well as, quarterback Abe Havelka. At the wide receiver positions, they will lose Alex Raichle, Noah Budach and Dalton Kubista. At the tight-end position, they will lose both Logan Starkson and Nolan Malo.
Throughout this season, this team has acquired many award on and off the field. This is shown when they are one of only six teams in the 5A conference to receive and an Academic Gold Award for their team. But it is the work that led up to the awards that Williams says is his favorite. Williams said, “My favorite memories usually revolve around practices with the guys. That is usually the time that is most fun and relaxed- especially enjoyed the UNIDome Trip!”
The Magnet would like to say congratulations to the Owatonna Huskies Football program on a great season and winning the Minnesota High School Class AAAAA Championship. For more information regarding the Huskies and their march to victory check out ohsmagnet.com. Also, follow us on Twitter @ohsmagnet, Instagram @ohsmagnet and on snapchat @ohsmagnet for photos and more information about the team.