A big second half helped the Osakis football team rally from a one-point deficit to beat Prairie Valley 33-7 in the Silverstreaks’ first win of the season on Friday night.
The Nighthawks led 7-6 at the break thanks to a six-yard touchdown pass from Skyler Meiners to Grant Yohnke in the second quarter. That duo got them in that position after Meiners hit Yohnke on about a 20-yard completion before Yohnke did the rest on a 60-yard gain down to the Osakis six-yard line.
The Silverstreaks’ only score of the first two quarters came on a big play from Grant Backes. He delivered on the team’s third drive as Backes went 63 yards for a touchdown run.
“In the first half, we had mistakes like we had in the previous two games,” Osakis head coach Bill Infanger said. “We had a couple fumbles and gave up a couple big pass plays. The message at halftime was just about overcoming mistakes. We hadn’t done that the last two weeks and this week was going to be different.”
Infanger felt one of the biggest differences came in the play of a more aggressive secondary. He credited Backes for a lot of that.
“Grant Backes really stood out on defense for us, caused a couple fumbles,” Infanger said. “He had a couple really big hits coming up from his safety position that really set the tone.
“Instead of being soft in our coverage and letting the balls get caught in front of us, we were focused on being more physical,” Infanger said of the secondary as a whole. “That caused a couple more turnovers in the second half. We were able to just execute everything a lot better in the second half and take advantage of the mistakes they made.”
Prairie Valley had three turnovers over the final two quarters, and Osakis was ready to take advantage. Tyler Spanswick had a big play with about 10 minutes left in the third when he scored on a 44-yard run that made it 12-7.
Prairie Valley fumbled the ensuing kickoff and Osakis recovered it at the Nighthawks’ 31-yard line. Skyler Windhorst had a big catch on a third down to keep the drive alive before sophomore Glenn Seela punched in a touchdown on first and goal from the three.
The Silverstreaks got a fourth down stop at the Prairie Valley 46-yard line on the next possession to set up great field position. Spanswick had a 25-yard catch to get the ball inside the five-yard line before quarterback Brandon Giesler scored on a keeper on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Osakis had one last big play in its arsenal after that. Sophomore speedster Gage Larson put the finishing touches on the win with a 71-yard touchdown run where he went untouched down the sideline despite Prairie Valley getting called for a 12-men-on-the-field penalty during the play.
“We knew we had a burner in him and we’ve been waiting to get him into space like that to run,” Infanger said of Larson. “He’s been good in punt and kick return. He had a couple nice runs and this was by far his best. We had good blocking out there for him and once he found the crack, he was just gone.”
The win was a nice confidence boost for an Osakis team that had some high expectations coming into the season. Infanger said he saw that he had a lot of upperclassmen starting for him this fall but underestimated how inexperienced some of those guys were at the varsity level. It showed during an 0-2 start.
“What I didn’t realize is we don’t have a lot of varsity experience, not only in football but in any sport,” Infanger said. “We had to go through some growing pains and probably are still going through some growing pains and learning how to compete every play and how to win football games.”
Even through the slow start, Infanger never lost confidence in his players. The hope is that the first win can carry through to improved play heading into a road game at Wadena-Deer Creek this next Friday.
“One thing we talked about is the record says we’re 0-2 but we felt we were the best 0-2 team in AA in the state,” Infanger said. “We were 0-2 but felt we still have the potential to be a very good football team. As a coach, you worry the guys will lose sight of that message and stop believing in it, but they really came out and gave a great effort and played the way we thought they would play the first two weeks.”