Heartbreaking end to the Huskies season

Tradition never graduates


Oliver Hansen

The captains lead the Huskies onto the field one final time

After an easygoing regular season, and breezing through sections, the Owatonna Football Team met their match against St. Thomas Academy on Saturday, Nov., 8. Last year, the Huskies and the Cadets faced off in the 2018 state title game, which ended with an Owatonna victory. However, this year was different with the Huskies season cut short after a tough loss in the state quarterfinal game. The day started out sunny and beautiful at kickoff, but when the final whistle was blown, rain fell almost as quickly as tears did on the sideline. The Huskies ended their 2019 season with a loss of 21-0.

To win the championship last year, the Owatonna defense only allowed one St. Thomas field goal. This year, the Cadets came out on top after scoring three touchdowns against the scoreless Huskies. The Huskies found some early success in the run game, and a fair amount of good things came out of the pass game, but, at the end of the day, the Cadets evened the score and forced Owatonna’s hand. Head coach Jeff Williams said, “We consider ourselves to be one of the best teams in the state. I think we can still hang our hat on that.” 

We consider ourselves to be one of the best teams in the state. I think we can still hang our hat on that.

— Head coach Jeff Williams

With the end of another season comes the end of several high school football careers. On offense, the team will lose quarterbacks Sol Havelka and Logan Gauthier, receivers Matt Williams, Ethan Walter and Jaden Dallenbach and kicker Sam Henson. The Blue Collar will graduate center Isaiah Noeldner, and offensive linemen Zach Wiese and Luke Effertz. The defense will lose defensive backs Keenan Young and Jerez Autridge, outside linebacker Hunter Menden and defensive lineman Josh O’Daffer. There were plenty of seniors playing on both sides of the ball all season, including Carson DeKam, Isaac Oppegard, Isaac Gefre, Carter DeBus and Ethan Rohman.

Although they did not reach their goal at the end of this season, this group of seniors has at least one ring on their finger and can say that they were a part of a team that beat the odds and went to the state tournament four consecutive years. Senior captain Carson DeKam said, “We’re a team, but we’re also just a bunch of friends going out and playing a game we love.” 

The customs created by this program has brought two consecutive championship trophies back to OHS and pride to the community. Coach Williams said, “We talk a lot about the fact that tradition never graduates.” Even if they did not get the opportunity to compete at US Bank Stadium, this team has made quite a name for themselves. Coach Williams went on to say, “To win four section titles in a row is a great legacy. To win 29 games in a row is a great legacy. That tradition, that set of expectations of what it takes to get there is going to be passed on to the next group. Its their job to cultivate that and make it their own.” 

We’re a team, but we’re also just a bunch of friends going out and playing a game we love.

— Senior captain Carson DeKam

The set of juniors that are set to be next season’s leaders have quite the torch to carry, but with such a seasoned coaching staff, their set of experience will surely set them up for success in future seasons. Next year’s leaders are already forming a plan. Junior Nate Smith said, “Especially over the winter, kids who don’t have any sports, I’m going to get them in [the weight room] and get them on a program.”

With an overall successful season to reflect on and a bright future for the program, the 2019 Owatonna Football team has brought their season to a close. The tough loss of the quarterfinal game and of almost 30 athletes will not deter the next class of boys from defying even more odds and putting forth the tremendous effort necessary to be better than they were the day before.