The Minnewaska football team was scheduled to get a crack at 7-0 Pierz in the Section 6-3A semifinals on Saturday before the announcement that fall sports seasons would come to a halt right before midnight on Friday.
That caused the section to reshuffle so Albay (7-0) and Pierz could play as the top two seeds in a game that Albany dominated 41-8 on Friday.
It meant a home game for the Lakers (3-4) against New London-Spicer (4-4), and it was the Wildcats who went out on top in a 26-7 win over Minnewaska.
A lot of that had to do with New London-Spicer running back Jack Novak. Novak was a workhorse with 28 carries as he punched in three touchdowns and totaled 154 yards. Connor Rothwell also had 84 yards and a touchdown.
“Jack had a solid night, as did the guys in front of him,” Minnewaska head coach Jeremy Christensen said. “He never seemed to break loose but always got five or more yards. He did a good job of being patient behind his blocks and finding the crease to cut up.”
New London-Spicer put the game away with a 14-point fourth quarter. Novak had both of those touchdowns on runs of eight and 16 yards.
Minnewaska’s lone score came in the third quarter. Tyson Meyer got in the end zone on a run from four yards out, and the Isaac Koenig extra point cut the Lakers’ deficit to 12-7.
That was all the offense the Lakers could get against a stingy NL-S defensive effort. The Wildcats outgained Minnewaska 358-179 in total yards. They controlled the ground game with 321 yards that led to a huge advantage in time of possession (34:34 to 13:26) for NL-S.
Max Reichmann broke off a 61-yard run and led the Lakers with 71 yards on the ground. Meyer had 39 yards and the score on 13 carries in the final game of his standout career. Meyer finished his years in the Minnewaska backfield as the program’s all-time leading rusher with 2,553 yards and 33 touchdowns on 382 carries (6.68 YPC).
“Tyson is a very dynamic athlete that played a lot of football on both sides of the ball for us,” Christensen said. “He was a three-year starter at running back and linebacker. He has been fortunate enough to play behind some very good offensive and defensive lines as well. That coupled with his own athletic ability made for quite a career. We're going to miss Tyson and the rest of our 16 seniors. They all have been a huge part of our success over the last three years, and their commitment to our program has been second to none. They are a very special group of young men.”
The Lakers went 7-3 and 8-3 in the 2019 and 2018 seasons, respectively, with the help of this group of seniors. Minnewaska started this season 0-2, but rallied off three wins in four games before falling to the Wildcats on Friday.
It was part of a season that Christensen hopes his kids can take a lot of life lessons from.
“It has definitely been a different season for Minnesota student athletes,” Christensen said. “I think the biggest takeaway from this season has been what we have preached from the start, and that is that we don't know what the future holds. You need to play and live in the present as much as possible and savor every opportunity. We, like many teams in Minnesota, had our COVID struggles, and I feel like our kids responded to that adversity well.”
NEW LONDON-SPICER 6 6 0 14 - 26
MINNEWASKA 0 0 7 0 - 7
MINNEWASKA LEADERS - Passing - Mitchell Gruber - 5-15, 25 yards, INT; Rushing - Gruber - 4-23; Darion Alexander - 1-13; Aaron Ver Steeg - 4-16; Tyson Meyer - 13-39, TD; Max Reichmann - 2-71; Receiving - Peyton Johnsrud - 1-6; Alexander - 2-14; Damon Uhde - 2-11
NL-S LEADERS - Rushing - Kyle Doty - 4-17; Kyle Denz - 5-33; Jack Novak - 28-154, 3 TD; Connor Rothwell - 13-84, TD; Nick McKenzie - 1-6; Brycen Christensen - 6-21; Passing - Doty - 4-9, 37 yards, INT; Receiving - Mason Toutges - 1-11; Brody Lien - 1-16; Christensen - 1-2; Jaden Zylstra - 1-8