Football: Big plays early help guide Sauk Centre to Section 6AA title win over Osakis
Sauk Centre shuts out Osakis 14-0 in the first half and 13-0 in the fourth quarter to win the Section 6AA title game, 27-6. Sauk Centre is headed to the state tournament for the first time since 1983.
FARGO - Coming into Friday’s Section 6AA championship game in the Fargodome, it had been 39 years since the Sauk Centre football team had earned a spot in the state tournament. With big plays in the first half and a strong finish in the fourth quarter, Sauk Centre won the section title over Osakis (8-2) and advanced to the Class AA State tournament.
“It’s exciting. You have to give a lot of credit to these kids” Sauk Centre head coach Charlie Warring said. “Over the last two years, they took it upon themselves to say, ‘You know what, we're going to try to turn things around here at Sauk Centre.’ They’ve done a lot of things well for us. They’ve put a lot of work in. We told them as a staff, 'Were proud of you, not because you won, but how you went about it.' It just feels great to see these kids succeed.”
The Mainstreeters have now made it to their third state tournament in program history (they made it in 1972 and 1983).
Sauk Centre, the No. 2 seed in the section tournament, entered the fourth quarter with a 14-6 lead. With a touchdown run by Matthew Warring on the first play of the fourth quarter and a touchdown from Warring to Jay Neubert with four minutes left in the game, Sauk Centre put the game on ice.
“They were physical up front,” Osakis head coach Bill Infanger. “They were one of the more physical teams we saw up front this year.”
Sauk Centre outscored its two Section 6AA playoff opponents, Osakis and Wadena-Deer Creek, by a combined score of 74-19.
On the first drive of the game on Friday, the Sauk Centre defense stopped Osakis on 4th and 1 from the Osakis 37-yard line.
Then after a long pass from quarterback Matthew Warring to Hunter Danielson, Elijah Fletcher punched in a one yard touchdown run that put the Mainstreeters up 7-0 early in the first quarter. This along with a 56-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Warring to Danielson midway through the second quarter gave the Mainstreeters a 14-0 lead at halftime.
“They were able to capitalize on the mistakes that we made early in the game,” Infanger said. “They got a couple of guys behind us early and went up 14-0 on us.”
Osakis got the ball moving a bit in the first half and the ball in Sauk Centre territory a few times in the first half.
But whether it came by a turnover on downs or a fumble, Sauk Centre made the defensive stops it needed to keep Osakis scoreless in the first half.
“We found a way with a couple of big plays early,” Coach Warring said. “We just kind of held on from there. Osakis is very physical, well-coached and very disciplined. You have to be very well disciplined to run the offense that they do and they are.”
Blake Bouldin came up huge for the Silverstreaks early in the second half as he picked off a pass that later led the Silverstreaks to scoring their lone touchdown of the game, a two-yard run by Drew Imdieke.
“That was a big play for us,” Infager said. “That was the moment that could have created that momentum turn that we needed, but hats off to Sauk Centre for finding a way to kind of take the wind out of our sails by getting it back to a multi-score game after we scored. We just couldn't get that stop. There were so many weapons on the other side of the ball for them on offense.”
Sauk Centre held Osakis to season-low six points. On defense, Osakis’ Kyle Mages also picked off two passes in the first half against Sauk Centre.
For Osakis, this is its second-straight Section 6AA runner-up finish. Infanger is proud of the season for his team.
“I’m just happy with the experience I’ve had coaching these seniors and this group overall,” he said. “They were incredibly dedicated from this summer all the way through the season. We had a great turnout in the weight room. It was a joy to work with these guys, because there was so much effort. It all has to come to an end at some time. We just didn’t want it to be now. When you get over this loss, we're able to look back at the season as a whole and say there was a lot of success, and there's a lot of great memories. We got to spend time together as a group and it was a great group of guys. I just feel blessed that I got to be a coach on this team.”
The Silverstreaks have eight seniors this year — Ian Adolphsen, Tyler Bailey, Aidan Gulbranson, Tyson Hagedon, Aaron Kallstrom, Logan Karnes, McCarter Kirksey and Jack Petrich.
“These seniors have been great,” Infanger said. “I told them after the game that I’m just so proud of them and am so thankful that they came in and did all the things that we asked them and they continued the football program culture that we have of hard work and accountability. They were incredible teammates, incredible kids and young men that I got to coach. I'm just very thankful for the opportunity to work with them. They were great leaders and great example-setters for our younger guys. We've got 40 guys showing up in the weight room in the mornings and that's because these guys set the example.”
Sauk Centre - 7 7 0 13 - 27
Osakis - 0 0 6 0 - 6
1ST - Elijah Fletcher, 1-yard run (Nathan Schrimers PAT), 8:48 (7-0 Sauk Centre)
2ND - Matthew Warring 56-yard pass to Hunter Danielson (Nathan Schrimers PAT), 5:43 (14-0 Sauk Centre)
3RD - Drew Imdieke, 2-yard run (Duncan Tronicke PAT NO GOOD) 6:45 (14-6 Sauk Centre)
4TH - Matthew Warring 8-yard run (2-pt conversion NO GOOD), 11:57 (20-6 Sauk Centre); Matthew Warring 8-yard pass to Jay Neubert (Nathan Schrimers PAT), 3:59 (27-6 Sauk Centre)