When the fall football camp started in mid-August, the goal for the Osakis football team was simple: Get back to the section championship.
On Saturday night in the Section 6AA semifinal game, the Silverstreaks (7-2) beat the West Central Area-Ashby Knights (6-4) 49-6 to punch their ticket to the Fargodome.
"We prepared for this game knowing we had a chance to make it back to the section championship," senior Mason Moore said. "We've played great the last six games, and we knew if we came out here and played like we can, it would be a good outcome for us."
Osakis put up 24 points in the first quarter. Isaac Hetland found the back of the end zone twice, while Luke Imdieke scored his first of four touchdowns on the day.
"Our offensive line did a great job tonight," head coach Bill Infanger said. "Our backs ran the ball hard. Isaac Heltand and Luke Imdieke both broke a lot of tackles. All of them played like they wanted it really bad tonight."
The Knights had a chance to close the gap midway through the second quarter when Jordan Lohse broke-free for 46 yards. After an offensive penalty forced a third-and-long for WCA-A, Jaden Norby's pass was intercepted by Luke Staloch near the goal line.
"We had a big lead at that point, and I thought if they scored there, it would put them back in it," coach Infanger said. "It would've given them momentum, and they got the ball coming out of halftime. They could've come back and made a game of it if it weren't for that play by Luke Staloch."
The Knights struggled to find an answer from the opening kickoff. Jaden Norby was limited in his production on the ground and through the air.
"You have to be physical with him and stay disciplined," Moore said. "A guy like that can make a lot of plays. You have to stay in your gaps and fill the holes."
Osakis cruised to its sixth straight win of the season – setting up a rematch of last year's section title match where they lost to Pillager 30-16.
"They way we played tonight tells me how bad they want that," Infanger said. "They're excited about the opportunity, but they know about the great football program that Pillager has. They're a team that's been there and done that a couple of times. We want to get to that point. We feel like we're really hungry, and we're excited to have another crack at it."
For Moore, it's a chance to play the game he wasn't part of last year.
"The coaches were telling me that this is my shot now because I missed that game last year with a concussion," Moore said. "I can't wait to get out there with these guys."
Raising the bar
The Knights fell into a rut in the back half of the season. After starting 4-0, WCA-A lost four of its last six games. However, head coach Nate Wood believes that this year is something to build on.
"You look at Osakis and see that they're on the flip side of where we are at," Wood said. "They've played together for a couple of years now, and they have a great group of seniors. They were calm under pressure tonight, and they took care of business. We get that extra year of experience with our guys coming back next year, and that's exciting.
It takes an extraordinary effort to knock off the top seed in the section on the road. The Knights were outmatched from the start by a hungry Osakis defense.
"Osakis' overall team strength is the best we've seen out of any team this year," Wood said. "Across the board, they're incredibly disciplined, strong and they play hard. I was impressed with them as far as what kind of team they were. Hats off to Osakis. They're a very classy and incredibly good program. We wish them luck."
The end of the road came on Saturday night for the seniors. Wood emphasized that they have changed the program for the better.
"These seniors set the expectations we have for our program," Wood said. "We are very proud of everything they've done for us coaches and the underclassmen."
WCA-A 0 0 0 6 - 6
OSAKIS 24 12 7 7 - 49
SCORING- FIRST QUARTER- Osakis- Isaac Hetland 3-yard TD run (Luke Imdieke two-point conversion) 7:52; Osakis- Hetland 2-yard TD run (Imdieke two-point conversion) 4:14; Osakis- Imdieke 12-yard TD run (Hetland two-point conversion) 0:16;
SECOND QUARTER- Osakis- Imdieke 9-yard TD run (two-point conversion no good) 9:22; Osakis- Imdieke 6-yard TD run (two point conversion no good) 0:25;
THIRD QUARTER- Osakis- Imdieke 7-yard TD run (PAT good) 5:39;
FOURTH QUARTER- Osakis- Tyson Hagedon 5-yard TD run (PAT no good); WCA-A- Mattson Hoff 60-yard TD catch (no PAT attempt) 0:00;