Football: Osakis rebounds from loss
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
Osakis head football coach Bill Infanger admitted his team’s game against New York Mills was a must-win last Friday night.
He knew if the Silverstreaks were going to accomplish the goals they set at the beginning of the season, then they couldn’t afford to fall to 0-2. His players understood that as they went out and played with a sense of urgency on their way to running past the Eagles 35-14.
Osakis controlled the game in all three facets. They used an onside kick on special teams, created five turnovers on defense and totaled 455 yards on offense. Most of that came behind a dominant rushing attack as Brian Thorstad racked up 226 yards and two touchdowns on just 22 carries.
“It’s great for the guys to be on the other end of a game like that and get those turnovers,” Infanger said a week after his team gave the ball away five times themselves. “But I think just as big was how well we got our running game going. We got some big plays out of the run game early…this was a fired up, excited, aggressive football team, and that’s the way we want to play.”
Osakis used a stretch of three straight plays to completely change the complexion of the game in the first half. Jordan Frederick had already given the Silverstreaks a 6-0 lead with his first of two rushing touchdowns of the night on his team’s first possession.
New York Mills was moving the ball right down the field on the next possession when senior quarterback Charlie Peeters dropped back to pass. He looked for junior receiver Taylor Ericksrud on the right side, but Osakis’ Hunter Johnson read it perfectly. Johnson stepped in front of the pass for an interception that he returned near midfield.
“I just noticed the wide receiver turned to the inside,” Johnson said. “I pretty much noticed he was going to pass it to him right away.”
Infanger called it a play that changed the complexion of the game. That’s because Osakis made it hurt by scoring on the very next play. Thorstad took a handoff and cut to the outside as he went 51 yards untouched down the left sideline for a touchdown.
Osakis went for the knockout punch from there. The Silverstreaks noticed that the Eagles’ front line was playing 15 yards off the ball on kickoffs. They executed an onside kick perfectly by falling on the ball after it went the required 10 yards. A few plays later, it was 21-0 after Thorstad punched in his second touchdown of the night.
Thorstad bounced back with one of the best games of his career a week after being held to less than 100 yards. The senior back tormented Eagles defenders all night, getting to the outside on a number of plays and shedding tacklers by delivering a stiff-arm that he relies on as much as any back in the area.
“New York Mills did a good job shutting our fullback down on our plays right up the middle,” Infanger said. “But to do that, they were giving up some outside stuff, and we were able to get Brian going tonight, which I know is great for our offense because he’s one of the leaders on our team. If we can get him going, that’s huge for us.”
The early lead for Osakis forced the Eagles to throw the ball to try to get back in it. That played right into the Silverstreaks’ hands as they finished with four interceptions on the night. Kilar Zimmel, Drew Fearing and Trey Erie all picked off passes after Johnson’s big play in the first quarter.
Zimmel was all over the field on both sides of the ball just a little more than seven months removed from surgery to repair a torn ACL on his left knee. The senior worked hard through months of rehab because he wanted to contribute during his final season.
Zimmel isn’t easing into things, either. He is this team’s biggest threat on the outside at receiver, while also playing free safety on defense, punting and returning kicks and punts. He showed he still has plenty of athleticism by going up and getting a ball at its highest point for a 31-yard pass play that set up Thorstad’s second touchdown against the Eagles.
“It [feels] amazing,” Zimmel said. “Going from being completely injured, sitting on my bed and out from school for a week and coming back and being this physical. It’s nice.”
His return has been a huge boost for a team that knows how important he is to its success.
“The thing he’s got left to bring back is maybe a little bit of speed that he had last year that we’re not seeing yet,” Infanger said. “But his athleticism hasn’t changed at all. We’ve always felt he’s one of the best guys at going up and getting the ball that we’ve had in this program in a long time, and we want to give him a lot of opportunities to make plays like he did tonight.”
Those plays helped Osakis get a game this team needed early on. Now the Silverstreaks will focus on building off that as they welcome in an 0-2 Long Prairie-Grey Eagle team this Friday night.
“We talked about it as a coaching staff that this was a must win game for us,” Infanger said. “We didn’t like where our season was going if we went 0-2 going into the meat of our schedule. So this was a huge win. I think the guys, we’ll have their full attention on Monday and they’ll be ready to go for a tough matchup against Long Prairie.”
NEW YORK MILLS 0 0 6 8 – 14
OSAKIS 14 7 7 7 – 35
TEAM TOTALS – Osakis – Total yards – 455; Passing – 3-9, 61 yards; Rushing – 53-394, 5 TD; New York Mills – Passing – 3-10, 19 yards, TD, 4 interceptions; Rushing – 33-163, TD
OSAKIS OFFENSE – Passing – Frederick – 3-9, 61 yards; Rushing – Lane Berberich – 1-4; Frederick – 4-13, 2 TD; Fearing – 8-46; Erie – 2-11; Johnson – 8-34; Ryan Engfer – 2-12; Thorstad – 22-226, 2 TD; Wyatt Olson – 3-11; Hunter Scherr – 2-29, TD; Receiving – Zimmel – 1-31; Fearing – 1-17; Joseph Kotek – 1-13
OSAKIS DEFENSE – Berberich – 1 assisted; Brandon Giesler – 1 assisted; Zimmel – 2 solo, 2 assisted, 1 interception; Seth Newman – 1 assisted; Fearing – 1 interception; Erie – 1 solo, 3 assisted, 1 interception; Johnson – 1 solo, 2 assisted, 1 interception, fumble recovery; Joseph Garcia – 1 solo; Thorstad – 1 solo, 3 assisted, 1 TFL; Cody DeWenter – 1 solo, 1 TFL; Austin Rollag – 11 assisted, 1 TFL; Derrick Swanson – 5 assisted; Garret Scherr – 3 solo, 10 assisted, 1 TFL, 1 sack; John Piekarski – 2 assisted; Peter Hagan – 4 assisted; Mitchell Sunder – 1 assisted; Lane Arkfeld – 1 solo, 3 assisted; Kotek – 1 assisted
SPECIAL TEAMS – Field goals – Ricardo Giordano – 0-1; Extra points – Giordano – 3-3