The Osakis football team proved why it’s a threat to come out of Section 6AA with a 31-21 win over Minnewaska on Wednesday night.
“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to get a first-round bye in the playoffs, and there’s a good chance we got that with this win tonight,” head coach Bill Infanger said. “We want the playoffs to go through Osakis. Tonight was a step in that direction. We played a physical football game against an outstanding Minnewaska team.”
Minnewaska received the opening kickoff but was quickly shuffled off the field by the Osakis defense. Facing a 4th-and-6 from midfield, Luke Imdieke received the pitch and took the ball down to the 18-yard line. An open-field block by Luke Staloch created the lane. Then like he’s done all season, Isaac Hetland punched in the 4-yard touchdown to give Osakis the first lead.
Minnewaska answered back midway through the second quarter with a long drive of its own. After running the ball each play, the Lakers caught the Silverstreaks selling out for the run when quarterback Grant Jensen hit wide receiver Aaron Ver Steeg in the end zone for a 14-yard touchdown catch on a play-action pass. Drew Nelson’s PAT tied the game 7-7.
“Grant is one of the best athletes I’ve been around,” Minnewaska head coach Jeremy Christensen said. “This is his first year playing quarterback full time. Last year, he was all over the place for us. We have a lot of great weapons and playmakers on offense, and Grant used them well today. This was his best day throwing the ball.”
The Lakers forced a punt on their next defensive stand. Jensen and company were faced with a 4th-and-1 from their own 36-yard line. Christensen’s decision to go for the first down paid off when Jensen converted the quarterback sneak.
“I felt like we were in a bit of a rhythm,” Christensen said. “I thought our guys had a good read on what the defense was doing to us. That was a gut check for us. It kept them from scoring before the half, and we were able to get points out of that drive.”
With nine seconds left in the half, Jensen gave the Lakers a touchdown lead when he slipped through the middle of the pile at the goal line.
Osakis answered back on the third play of the third quarter. Quarterback Hunter Infanger broke free for a 51-yard touchdown run. Imdieke ran in the two-point conversion to put the Silverstreaks up 15-14.
Osakis was able to run all over the Minnewaska defense. The offensive line opened big holes for the Osakis ball carriers to continuously get first downs.
“We feel like if we can get a push that there’s a chance we score a touchdown,” offensive tackle Isaac Froemming said. “The guys behind us are great. We put a lot of work into the weight room to prepare for this season, and it’s great to see it pay off. I think the line on both sides of the ball is playing with a chip on its shoulder.”
Minnewaska was moving the ball down the field effectively before the Lakers were faced with another fourth-down attempt. This time, Osakis took over on downs at midfield.
The Silverstreaks took advantage of the defensive stand when Imdieke scampered into the end zone from six yards out. He also scored the two-point conversion to put Osakis ahead 23-14 late in the third quarter.
“The success we had on offense was really because of our line,” coach Infanger said. “Tonight, especially in the second half, they got the push they needed for us to move the ball. I know how much time those guys have put into this season and it’s showing on the field right now.”
The Lakers cross midfield before the end of the third quarter. After an incompletion on third down, Hetland wrapped up Jensen in the backfield for another Minnewaska turnover on downs.
Infanger found the back of the end zone for the second time of the night from 10-yards out.
Minnewaska scored a touchdown before time ran out, but it was too late. For the Lakers, it’s back to the drawing board. They’re heading into the 6AAA playoffs for the first time looking to take two steps forward after a step back.
“What I told the kids after the game was we got punched in the mouth over and over again. We need to learn from this,” Christensen said. “We have to decide if we want to take those punches or start dealing some ourselves.”
Osakis is looking at staying home for the first round of the playoffs with a bye. The goal is to make it back to the section championship where they lost a year ago.
“We didn’t forget that, and it motivates us to get back there,” Froemming said. “Everything we’ve worked for has been to make it back to that game. Yes, it feels great to be on a winning streak and finish strong. We aren’t done yet. We have more work to do.”
MINNNEWASKA 0 14 0 7 - 21
OSAKIS 7 0 16 8 - 31
SCORING- FIRST QUARTER- Osakis 7-0, Isaac Hetland 4-Yard TD run (Carter Rost PAT good) 4:15;
SECOND QUARTER- Minnewaska 7-7, Grant Jensen pass to Aaron Ver Steeg 14-yard TD (Drew Nelson PAT good) 8:15; Minnewaska 14-7, Grant Jensen 1-yard TD run (Drew Nelson PAT good) 0:09;
THIRD QUARTER- Osakis 15-14, Hunter Infanger 51-yard TD run (Luke Imdieke two-point conversion run good) 10:57; Osakis 23-14, Luke Imdieke 6-yard TD run (Luke Imdieke two-point conversion run good) 2:19;
FOURTH QUARTER- Osakis 31-1 Hunter Infanger 10-yard TD run (Luke Imdieke two-point conversion good) 8:44; Minnewaska 31-21, Grant Jensen pass time Peyton Johnsrud 22-yard TD (Drew Nelson PAT good) 5:50