The 2018 Osakis football season still lingers in the minds of the Silverstreaks.
After losing in the Section 6AA championship game to Pillager 30-16 in the Fargodome, the expectations of success have been raised. If Osakis were to make it back, head coach Bill Infanger pictures that game going much differently.
“There was a little bit of being awestruck with the Fargodome and how big it was,” Infanger said from practice on Aug. 13. “In the first five minutes of that game, we were down two touchdowns. For us to have that experience and to go back with an agenda or a goal and knowing what we need to do to win that game shows that these guys are determined.”
One of Osakis’ two-way players was on the sideline for that game with a concussion. Linebacker and offensive lineman Mason Moore is itching to get back on the field.
“I have a motivation to get back there,” Moore said. “I didn’t get to taste that. I still remember watching from the sideline and it gets at me. We are ready. We are definitely ready.”
Osakis is bringing a lot of experience back on the field. On offense, four starting linemen return along with star running back Luke Imdieke. Along the line, seniors Curtis Woidyla, Tim Hull, Isaac Froemming and Moore helped Imdieke rush for 1,278 yards last season.
“Having four offensive linemen coming back is going to be huge for us,” Infanger said. “We ran for almost 3,000 yards last year, and we are looking to do more of the same this fall.”
Osakis will have to make up for some big losses on defense. The Silverstreaks return just four of their 11 starters there, and last year’s defensive MVP, Logan Hartshorn, is not one of those returners. Hartshorn was all over the field in 2018 as he racked up 130 tackles, including seven for loss.
Moore is part of the transition on defense. In the last two seasons, he has seen his time on the defensive side of the ball as an edge rusher. Now, he’s been asked to make the switch to middle linebacker for his senior year. It’s a change that Infanger feels confident about.
“We expect a lot out of Mason. He’s a guy you can build a defense around,” Infanger said. “He’s a big kid that runs really well. He’s smart and he can get good reads. He’s going to be like having a quarterback out there on defense.”
Moore played linebacker in junior high. Even though the position isn’t new to him, he will still have to go through a period of adjustment.
“Being a vocal leader and knowing where the ball is going to be is what’s important in that spot,” Moore said. “This is my first year back there, so it’s just about getting back into the position and learning it again. It’s starting to come back to me already.”
Osakis brings a big group of seniors on the field this fall. After the tough loss from last season’s section title game, the Silverstreaks took a focused approach to their offseason.
“The seniors last year showed us what it takes to be in (the section championship),” Moore said. “We have a really good core group of guys and we had a great summer in the weight room. This year, we are ready to take that next step and bring that extra energy to practice every day to get there.”
The ability to overcome adversity is something the coaching staff has preached.
“I think the challenge for this team is living up to the potential,” Infanger said. “We have talent but adversity will hit. What are we going to do when adversity hits us? Even with all the experience we have, how do we handle injuries or a game starting the wrong way for us. Can we handle those things that we didn’t handle so well last year? We expect to.”
On Aug. 30, Osakis will travel to Browerville for its first game of the season. After a long time of waiting to get back under the lights, Moore is hoping the guys can keep their emotions in check.
“We definitely look forward to playing Browerville. They’re the big rival,” Moore said. “That will be about staying fundamentally sound and handling the emotions for us. It’ll be exciting to get back out there under the lights. We’ll have butterflies until the start of the game but after that, it’s just another game of football.”
For the seniors, it’s one last chance to prove what they are capable of.
“We’ve been dreaming about this since we were younger,” Moore said. “If we can stay healthy and stay on the field, then we believe that we can beat anybody.”