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Football: Osakis grinds out a win in its opener

Osakis senior Jarret Seela stands up Browerville's Kellen Pulliam on a tackle before Luke Imdieke (right) comes in to strip the ball for a fumble that Osakis' Hunter Infanger recovered to halt a drive for the Tigers at the Silverstreaks' 10-yard line during Thursday's season opener. (Eric Morken / Osakis Review) 1 / 5
Osakis junior quarterback Hunter Infanger throws the ball downfield for a first down reception that was caught by senior Jarret Seela. (Eric Morken / Osakis Review) 2 / 5
Osakis senior Jarret Seela looks for a few extra yards along the sideline after making a catch against Browerville-Eagle Valley on Thursday night. (Eric Morken / Osakis Review)3 / 5
Osakis' Jacob Backes gets free to the outside on a run against Browerville-Eagle Valley in the season opener on Thursday night. (Eric Morken / Osakis Review)4 / 5
Osakis junior back Luke Imdieke gets free on a long run against Browerville-Eagle Valley on Thursday night. (Eric Morken / Osakis Review)5 / 5

Osakis players and head coach Bill Infanger admitted that Browerville-Eagle Valley surprised them a little bit on Thursday night in the football season opener.

This a Tigers team that the Silverstreaks handled in a 33-6 game in the 2017 opener. But this is a different year, a different team for Browerville. That kept the Tigers close, but Osakis still did enough things right to come out with a 14-6 win on its home field.

“It’s real nice to get a win under our belt right away,” Osakis junior Luke Imdieke said. “Last season left a bad taste in most of our mouths, so it’s just good to get back out here and get a win. I think they came out really physical. More physical than we probably thought they were going to be, and then we just made adjustments and were able to make plays.”

It was a 6-0 Silverstreaks’ lead right away. Osakis drove down the field on its opening possession, and senior Triston Stoetzel punched in a touchdown run from a yard out.

That’s exactly how things went deep into the third quarter before the Tigers tied it. On fourth-and-six, Browerville senior quarterback Brady Emery hit senior tight end Brian Kunerth on a 19-yard touchdown pass. The missed two-point conversion made it 6-6 going to the fourth.

“There were a lot of things that did go well,” Osakis head coach Bill Infanger said. “We were able to get some big runs at times when we needed them and pick up first downs. If you only give up six points in a night, you played pretty dang well defensively. It was just one of those games where it felt like a grinder from the beginning.”

Infanger felt the Silverstreaks would be successful by pounding it away on the ground. That proved to be the case on the very next possession after the Tigers scored.

Osakis came right back and ran the ball down the field. Imdieke broke free on a 21-yard run that set up the Silverstreaks at the B-EV 10-yard line. Stoetzel did the rest as he carried a couple defenders with him over the goal line for his second touchdown of the night. The Imdieke two-point conversion made it an eight-point Osakis lead with 9:58 left.

“It was very important when it’s a close game like that,” Stoetzel said of responding to the Tigers’ touchdown. “They were very physical, like Luke said. More physical than we thought, so tip our hats to them. We needed to come back, and we needed to get things moving again.”

Stoetzel was the workhorse who kept the chains moving down the stretch. He provides a lot of power in Osakis’ run game, and the Silverstreaks were able to hand it to him in the fourth quarter and pick up chunks of yardage up the middle to run time off the clock.

“Triston is a really physical kid, runs the ball really hard,” Infanger said. “Sometimes, it’s just what play is working. At the end of the game, Triston was doing a great job of protecting the ball with both hands and we had some gaps inside for him. I suspect some weeks it will be Jacob (Backes) on the outside, some weeks it will be Luke on our power or the buck sweep, and it might be the quarterback keep some weeks. It’s whatever the defense gives you. It’s a blessing for us to have four backs who can carry the football.”

Junior Hunter Infanger got his first varsity start at quarterback and provides another threat in the run game. He was only asked to throw a couple times, but he completed a third-down conversion in the first half on a throw to senior Jarret Seela.

“Hunter handled the ball well. He had one play where he tried to flip it that I wasn’t too excited about,” coach Infanger said with a smile about his quarterback and son. “It was his first varsity start. We’ll expect him to never do that again, but he gives us a threat to run it as well at quarterback. The throwing will come along as we go.”

The Silverstreaks did not need to take many chances offensively with the way their defense played. The biggest play on that side of the ball came when the Tigers got their deepest drive of the first half. They had it on the Osakis 10-yard line late in the second quarter when Browerville-EV’s Kellen Pulliam broke to the outside. Seela made a big hit, and Imdieke came in right after that to strip the ball. Hunter Infanger jumped on it to keep it a 6-0 lead.

“Whenever I see a guy get stood up like Jarret did, I usually go after the ball and finish him off,” Imdieke said. “I just saw an opportunity to get the ball out.”

In a close game, a play like that tends to stand out even more.

“Triston Stoetzel and our ends, Brandon Hetland and Ben Duchene, they did a nice job of spilling that run to the outside so our linebackers and safeties and corners could come up,” coach Infanger said. “We got the guys running laterally and Hunter fell on it. It was a really big play at a big moment. If they score there, it could be a completely different ballgame.”

Infanger said he saw a lot of positives from his team, but there are also things to clean up. Penalties were especially costly at times as they brought back a couple longer runs.

The Silverstreaks go to Olivia next week to play at BOLD, a team that went 10-1 a year ago. They are glad to be 1-0 heading into that one as Osakis now tries to be more competitive within its district after going 1-6 in 2017.

“I think it’s an eye opener for us, and I think this is what we have to expect,” Infanger said of the takeaway from beating the Tigers. “We’re going to be in grinders every week. We’re going to play big, physical football teams. Browerville is single A, but they’re a big, physical football team and they’re going to have a lot of success this year. I think that’s what our guys are going to have to expect.”

OSAKIS    6 0 0 8 - 14

BROWERVILLE-EAGLE VALLEY     0 0 6 0 - 6

SCORING - FIRST QUARTER - Osakis - Triston Stoetzel, 1-yard run; PAT no good

SECOND QUARTER - No scoring

THIRD QUARTER - B-EV - Brady Emery 19-yard pass to Brian Kunerth; Missed two-point conversion

FOURTH QUARTER - Osakis - Stoetzel 10-yard run; Luke Imdieke two-point conversion run

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

(320) 763-1229
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