After Tuesday night's Section 6AA quarterfinal games, the Osakis football team will get ready to play the fourth-seeded West Central Area Knights (6-3).
The top-seeded Silverstreaks (6-2) accomplished the regular-season goal they set for themselves at the beginning of the year. With a tightly contested section, they wanted to get a first-round bye and host a semifinal game on Saturday at 7 p.m.
"We like the idea of the playoffs coming through Osakis," head coach Bill Infanger said. "All of these teams that are left are good football teams. Last year, we were the three-seed, and we went on the road to upset Breckenridge. We know that WCA is going to bring that kind of intensity to try and pull off an upset."
If the Knights are going to do that, they will most likely do it with the ball in the hands of their quarterback.
Teams have had a tough time keeping Jaden Norby out of the end zone this season. On Tuesday night against Long Prairie-Grey Eagle (2-7), Norby had three rushing touchdowns and returned an interception for a defensive score.
"We need to be smart and efficient when we are tackling," Infanger said. "Our guys know how good of a player Norby is. We need to be physical at the line of scrimmage, and we have to tackle well. If we aren't smart, he's a guy that can beat us."
If the Silverstreaks can limit Norby's production, they will also be challenged with two dynamic ball carriers. Jordan Lohse and Anthony Sykora both had 100-yard rushing performances on Tuesday night.
"Lohse has had a great year for them, and that freshman, Anthony Sykora, will be good for them for the next few years," Infanger said. "They're a team that likes to play the same way we do. They're a run-first kind of team with a lot of skill in the backfield."
Teams that play the Silverstreaks know they can cause problems by limiting yards on the ground. However, in the last five weeks of the season, nobody has been able to do that. Infanger credits not only his guys in the backfield but also the offensive line.
"The first thing that they're going to try and do is stop us from running the ball," Infanger said. "Teams know that we run the ball a lot with our backs behind our big offensive line. WCA is similar team to us. They don't throw it a lot either. I think whatever team does a better job of taking away the running game is going to have the most success executing their game plan."
Osakis already starts with a leg up over WCA with its ability to rest through the bye week.
"Guys are banged up this time of year, and we get an extra long week to prepare for a tough West Central team on Saturday,” Infanger said.
For eight weeks, Osakis has worked to get back to these playoffs. After a 30-16 loss to Pillager in the section championship game last fall, the motivation this season is to avenge that defeat.
"I think we have a really good team this year, but we know that last year we were the third seed and pulled off an upset to get to the Fargodome," Infanger said. "We know the mindset that West Central is going to come in with on Saturday. This is what's fun about the playoffs. Our boys are going to come prepared in front of their home fans, and we couldn't be more excited about this weekend."