Huskies finish victorious

Fifth consecutive Section Championship


Brody Homan

The team poses with their fifth consecutive section 1AAAAA championship trophy.

Zach Stransky, Writer

The Owatonna High School Football team finished off an oddly unique season with their fifth consecutive Section 1AAAAA championship. The Huskies hung on long enough to defeat the Mayo Spartans in a 30-28 victory at home onTuesday Nov. 17.

The game was cold and there was a slight breeze, but that has been the case for almost every game this season for football teams across the state of Minnesota. The MSHSL originally postponed football until March and then later decided midway through September that they would end up going forth with the season. Which in sense moved their schedule a month back leaving the team no choice but to play in colder weather. Captain Brayden Truelson said, “It didn’t affect us very much because we are used to playing late and in cold weather. It actually stayed pretty nice for us, so the weather wasn’t too bad.”

The Huskies took off with a good looking 14-0 lead after Truelson connected with Payton Beyer for a 17 yard completion into the end zone. Owatonna then kicked an onside kick that ricocheted off of a Mayo front lineman and was picked up by junior Tanner Stendel which would return position to the Huskies, then lead to a one yard rushing touchdown by Truelson with 1:22 left in the first quarter.

Connor Budach makes an Incredible catch from his back in the end zone for this ESPN Sports Center Top Ten Play (Brody Homan)

Mayo struck back early in the second quarter with their arsenal of weapons and scored 21 unanswered points leaving the Spartans ahead 21-14. Owatonna answered back with a ESPN Sports Center top 10 touchdown after a pass from Truelson was tipped by a Mayo defender in the endzone and senior Connor Budach still managed to haul it in.

First possession of the second half Spartans Quarterback Bennett Ellsworth found wide open Demonte Simmons who used his explosive track speed to sprint in a 55 yard receiving touchdown giving Mayo their last lead of the game at 28-21.

Right away the next series, the Huskies drove the field and the senior heavy offensive line consisting of Tad Johnson, Gavin Rein, Nate Smith and Abe Stockwell, as well as junior Eli Spurgeon got a huge push for Truelson to dive in his second touchdown of the game. The score 28-28 with 6:07 left in the third quarter. Smith said, “We played our hearts out and each and every one of us had a part in our success. Our scouts gave us the best possible looks and nobody on the field could feel disappointed in how they played.”

With 4:22 left in only the third quarter the Huskies defense forced the Spartans to punt from their own 15, but turned into a botched snap and the Mayo punter stepped out of the back of the end zone turning the play into a safety. Giving the Huskies a final leading score of 30-28 after neither team reaches the end zone for the rest of the game.

Eli Spurgeon celebrates after a missed snap by the Spartans leads to a safety for the Huskies (Brody Homan)

Being a senior on the OHS football team is an important role, they are in control of keeping the culture going that has been being built here the last 24 years. They are also relied on for bringing energy to practice and stepping up in games not only to make plays, but also motivate their teammates to do the same. The Huskies will be graduating 22 seniors this year, 10 of them being starters from this year’s team. Mason Saufferer and Jack Titchenal would have also been on the list of starters, but both had their seasons cut short after suffering injuries against Mayo in the Huskies home opener.

Senior running back Tanner Hall ended his best game of the season with 195 yards on 43 carries. That is the second most carries by an Owatonna running back in school history, Jason Williamson had the most.

Tanner Hall carries two Mayo defenders to finish off a long run (Brody Homan)

Junior linebacker Grant Achterkirch was a key player on the Owatonna Defense this year. He made one of the biggest plays of the year when he forced a fumble that would end up being recovered by Budach with less than a minute left in the game, securing the Owatonna Victory. Achterkirch said, “I knew the play they were going to run and knew what the back was going to do, so when he showed in the hole I wasn’t surprised.” The junior linebacker would also go on to lead the team with 50 tackles on the season.

Beyer, who was easily Owatonna’s most targeted receiver this year, did not disappoint either. Completing the game with 110 yards on 10 catches and one touchdown. The star receiver also led the district with 703 yards and seven touchdowns in 2020.

For the seniors they will be only the fourth OHS Football team to end their careers with a win, and the only class ever to do it on their home field. They were all very grateful to go out this way. Hall said, “It feels amazing because not everyone can say they won a section title at their home field.”

The OHS football team had a great season overall. Head coach Jeff Williams said, “It’s pretty amazing to think that we’ve won the section for five straight years, especially when you consider the change over in players during that time. The one thing that has been consistent is the leadership of our seniors, both on and off the field. They have always made the difference.”