The West Central Area football team is the second seed in the Section 6, Class AA playoffs and continued a good stretch of play with a 30-13 win over seventh-seeded Osakis in the opener on Tuesday night.
The Knights (5-4) have won three of their last four and got out to an 8-0 start against the Silverstreaks (2-7). Osakis responded with a 24-yard touchdown run from Jacob Backes in its opening drive, but couldn't score again until Colton Waldvogel ran in a 9-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. That was set up by a Hunter Infanger blocked punt, but it was too little, too late with the Knights having taken control of the game by then.
"We looked every bit the part of a young, talented football team at times with a strong run game, but then we still had some of the mistakes that have haunted us down the stretch," Osakis head coach Bill Infanger said. "Turnovers, missed blocking assignments, penalties, etc. I have to give credit to WCA's defense for bending but not breaking on many of our drives in this game. They found ways to get off the field and get the ball back to their offense."
Osakis got its running game going with 258 yards on 41 carries. Luke Imdieke had 77 yards on 11 touches. Jarret Seela added 61 yards on 10 carries and Backes chipped in 61 yards and the touchdown on eight attempts.
"I think we saw some improvement there from the previous weeks," Infanger said. "Our backs in Colton Waldvogel, Jacob Backes, Jarret Seela, Luke Imdieke and Tristan Stoetzel all contributed solid efforts and the offensive line did a great job on many plays of opening up the running lanes for those guys. Our problem was with consistency."
Infanger said the turning point in the game came in the third quarter when two of Osakis' first four plays on offense ended in lost fumbles. The Knights capitalized on both of those with touchdowns. Infanger credited West Central Area senior quarterback Ross Anderson for getting the Knights going.
"He made some nice, accurate throws on their first two scoring drives that put them up 16-6 at the half and continued to hurt us with the option run game in the second half," Infanger said. "Their wingbacks and receivers did a nice job of blocking on the outside for their pitch man. We just did not rally to the pitch as well as we needed to in this game."
The Knights will move on to host sixth-seeded Wadena-Deer Creek in the section semifinals on Saturday at 7 p.m. For Osakis, it ends the season after six straight losses.
"We take a great deal of experience away from this season," Infanger said. "So many young players got extensive playing time and experience that they will bring back to the team with them next season. I also think we have the right kind of young guys on our team who are going to use this season as motivation through the next nine months to get in the weight room and prepare for next year."
A lot of those guys will be looked upon to lead the way for this program in 2018 as the Silverstreaks try to bounce back next fall.
"The silver lining in a tough season like we just went through with this young team is that we will return eight starters on both sides of the ball next year," Infanger said. "We had a talented group of juniors, sophomores and freshmen who got a chance to get their feet wet, and we will expect to be much improved in all areas coming into next season."
WEST CENTRAL AREA 30, OSAKIS 13
OSAKIS OFFENSIVE LEADERS - Jarret Seela - 10 carries, 61 yards; Tristan Stoetzel - 4 carries, 14 yards, fumble; Luke Imdieke - 11 carries, 77 yards; Jacob Backes - 8 carries, 61 yards, TD, fumble; Colton Waldvogel - 4 carries, 33 yards, TD; Nate Kulzer - 1 carry, 4 yards; Dan Savageau - 2 carries, 8 yards, 3-6 passing, INT
OSAKIS DEFENSIVE LEADERS - Josh Peterka - 1 INT; Logan Hartshorn - 13 tackles; Seela - 12 tackles; Stoetzel - 11 tackles; Jeran Baker - 10 tackles; Imdieke - 10 tackles; Jacob Wielenberg - 7 tackles, 1 sack