Huskies make history with back to back championship titles
A battle of defense
November 25, 2018
On Saturday Nov. 24, 2018, the undefeated Owatonna football team went into US Bank Stadium hungry for another win. The Huskies left US Bank stadium undefeated and with a second consecutive class 5A Championship title over the St. Thomas Academy Cadets. In the first half, the Huskies didn’t score and held St. Thomas to only a field goal. Owatonna went into the locker room trailing 3-0 at halftime. The Huskies kicked off the half, but when they got the ball back, senior captain Jason Williamson ran 71 yards for a touchdown, breaking several tackles along the way. Although the Huskies were leading 7-3, it was still anyone’s game until Williamson ran 44 yards for another touchdown with 1:27 left in the game. The Cadets got the ball back, but got sacked once by senior captain Joseph Stransky and once by junior Ethan Rohman in back to back plays. The game clock hit zero; the Owatonna Huskies were victorious once again, winning 14-3.
You just have to believe in the guy next to you. Hopefully, he does his job and you do your job.”
— Captain Joseph Stransky
When the Huskies came back onto the field for their second half warm up and pep talk, the team heard, “This is your chance to make history.” This referenced the prospect of being back to back champions. Williamson said, “We all worked really hard for this. We’ve been telling ourselves this for a long time, and to actually do it is surreal.” Despite most of the team being here before, this state championship title means a lot to each of the players. Junior Solomon Havelka said, “For me personally it’s a lot more special. Last year I had to watch my brother do it, and that’s emotional by itself. Now having him up in the stands, congratulating me.”
It was argued that Owatonna and St. Thomas Academy were more alike than different. Both teams have an elite running back and strong defense. The Owatonna defense held St. Thomas Academy, a usually high-scoring team, to just three points. Stransky said, “You just have to believe in the guy next to you. Hopefully, he does his job and you do your job.” Trust has been a big part of this this season. Because there were more juniors than seniors, the latter had to trust the younger players to execute. Head coach Jeff Williams said, “The seniors were really good to our juniors, allowed them to play big roles in our team this year, and we were able to supplement and get two teams that were pretty talented together.”
The Huskies have earned much more than another state championship title. Coach Williams won the Vikings’ Don Shula Coach of the Year award. With that honor, he will be recognized before the Vikings game on Dec. 16 and get to go to the Pro Bowl in Orlando, Florida. Senior Zander Johnson received the Most Valuable Teammate award, which is given to players that exude sportsmanship and put the team first.
Williamson a record-breaking number of touchdowns with 110. He is a Mr. Football finalist which will be revealed on Dec. 16. He and senior Chris Lewis are already on the All-State team. They will play in the All-State game on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 1 p.m. at US Bank. At the conclusion of the game, Williamson ran and hugged coach Williams. Williamson said, “He is the entire reason I’m in the position I am right now. Giving me a shot to practice with him as a freshman, having the confidence in me to play as a sophomore. I just owe everything to him.” When this was said in the press conference, Williams threw his head back and laughed. He didn’t miss the opportunity to remind Williamson of his talent, saying, “It was important to have Jason be able to walk off the field one last time victorious. He’s finished his season three years in a row at US Bank Stadium, twice with state championships. The kid deserved to walk off to the ovation.”
There are 20 seniors graduating this year. As far as varsity starters on offense, the team will lose kicker David Keller and tailbacks Mason Oland and Williamson and fullback Johnson. They will lose wide receivers Matt Segler, Ben Zappa, Jake Miller, Mason Rhodes, Cole Deason and Noah Brandt. On the offensive line, the Blue Collar will lose Joe Edel and tight-end Eli Tellijohn. On defense, they will lose defensive linemen Lewis and Stransky, as well as linebacker Nick Staska. The returning seniors have two year record of 25-1 and have made history earning back to back state titles.
Delles Solie’s last game
Along with the seniors, the Huskies will lose defensive line coach Delles Solie. Solie has been a football coach for nearly 40 years, “A lot,” of which have been in Owatonna. This being his last season, he hasn’t done anything different. Solie said, “I’ve probably just appreciated what I’m doing as a teacher and a coach, because I enjoy what I do. Just enjoying the moment.” Solie has done more than coach these boys, he has taught them valuable lessons about life and character. At the welcome home celebration after the championship game, he said, “The wins are just a by-product of just doing things right. There’s always a price to be paid for whatever you do in life.” After Solie spoke, he received a standing ovation from the team, coaches and fans in appreciation for his dedication to Owatonna and the football program.