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Turnovers created, big 4th-quarter drive secure Osakis' spot in the 6AA championship game against West Central Area

The Wolverines returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, but it was all Silverstreaks after that as Osakis advanced to the section title game on Nov. 5.

The Osakis football team had not played Wadena-Deer Creek during the regular season, so there was some unknown with a 5-4 Wolverines program coming into Osakis on Saturday in the Section 6AA semifinals.

Wadena-Deer Creek, seeded fifth, had wins this season where they put up 41, 58 and 54 points, but the Silverstreaks are the No. 1 seed for a reason. They did what they have done all fall in playing sound in multiple facets on the way to a 34-19 win.

“We felt like we had a pulse on what they do as far as how they line up and what plays they like to run,” Osakis head coach Bill Infanger said. “They’re going to go wide with four, five receivers. They have a four-year starter at quarterback in (senior Payton) Rondestvedt, so we knew they were going to come in and make plays. They played us tough.”

It was a one-possession game in the fourth quarter after Rondestvedt connected with Josh Dykhoff on a 3-yard touchdown pass that cut Osakis’ lead to 26-19 with 11:57 left.

The Silverstreaks (8-1) put together their most important drive of the game on the ensuing possession. They ate up more than 7 minutes of game time before Tyson Hagedon scored from 4 yards out. It was the junior running back’s third touchdown of the game.

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“It was so important,” Hagedon said of that final drive. “We really wanted to get these seniors a win on this field. We wanted to make sure we came out here and played well. We’re not overlooking anybody. They have some big guys, good skill position guys.”

The Wolverines had one last drive in them, but Osakis senior Bauer Klimek intercepted Rondestvedt in the end zone with two minutes left.

It was the finish Osakis wanted after not getting off to a good start. The Wolverines’ Evan Lunde caught the opening kickoff, faked a reverse to a teammate and then went almost 85 yards for a touchdown to make it 7-0 after the Cole Woods extra point.

The Silverstreaks dominated the second quarter with four touchdowns, thanks in large part to a defense that created three turnovers.

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Osakis scored touchdowns off of all three of those. Two of the turnovers created came on back-to-back offensive plays on Wadena-Deer Creek on fumbles.

“I think that was the key to the game,” Infanger said. “They had the momentum with the kickoff return and then they got a stop on us on our first offensive series. To come back, score finally and then get those two turnovers kind of gave us that momentum back.”

Junior lineman Logan Karnes got his team going by scooping up the ball on the first W-DC fumble and returning it nearly 15 yards down to the Wolverines’ 6-yard line. Sophomore fullback Drew Imdieke ran in his first of two touchdowns one play later.

“As soon as the ball was snapped it felt like a good play because I got my hands up on the lineman, threw him out of my way,” Karnes said. “I saw Chayce Meyer, who forced that fumble, he hit the quarterback and the ball bounced right out to me, and I just ran as hard as I could.”

Imdieke jumped on a fumble recovery on the Wolverines’ next offensive play. It was Hagedon’s turn to make that hurt as he ran in a touchdown from 12 yards out to make it 18-7.

Senior defensive lineman Brady Mages set up Osakis’ final first-half touchdown when he intercepted a pass at the line of scrimmage deep in Osakis territory. Sophomore quarterback Kyle Mages connected with Carter Watnaas on a long passing play on the ensuing drive before Imdieke punched in a touchdown from 1 yard out.

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“What I think is the key for our defense is always keeping our heads up,” Karnes said. “Always making sure we can help our offense out in getting better field position for them.”

The win did not come without a potential cost for the Silverstreaks as they played the final quarter down two important players. Senior Caleb Goodwin and Imdieke both went out with injuries throughout the game.

Imdieke had the two rushing touchdowns and a fumble recovery before leaving. That’s the kind of impact he can have on both sides of the ball at fullback and middle linebacker.

“Now you have to find a way where you have a couple guys out of position trying to fill in,” Infanger said. “Then you’re limited to what you can do play-calling wise, so it changes a lot of things. Hopefully we’ll get Drew back for next week. They shut him down precautionary today. We’ll see what it’s like next week, but it’s tough to replace Drew. He’s a big, physical presence and we do a lot of our offense through him.”

Infanger was proud of the way his guys withstood those losses to injury and put together the final drive to secure the win. Osakis has a little less than a week to rest now before facing West Central Area-Ashby (8-1) in the Section 6AA championship on Nov. 5 in the Fargodome with a 3 p.m. kickoff.

Osakis is one win away from getting back to the state tournament for the eighth time in program history. The Silverstreaks last went in 2019.

“We just got to keep pushing through,” Hagedon said. “We have to keep making plays. They’re going to be a good team. We’re ready for them though.”

The Knights beat third-seeded Sauk Centre 20-7 on Saturday afternoon to earn their spot in the 6AA championship game.

It was a 22-20 win for Osakis when the Silverstreaks played the Knights on Oct. 15. Players and coaches expect another good game in an even bigger atmosphere on Friday.

“It’s going to be a physical game. Just like last time, I think you can flip a coin as to how it’s going to turn out,” Infanger said. “It will come down to turnovers and big plays for either team. That’s the way it’s supposed to be at this time of year. We’re excited for that and can’t wait to be at the Fargodome on Friday.”

OSAKIS 34, WADENA-DEER CREEK 19

SCORING - FIRST QUARTER - W-DC - Evan Lunde 85-yard kickoff return; Cole Woods PAT (7-0)

SECOND QUARTER - Osakis - Tyson Hagedon 4-yard run; Missed conversion (7-6 W-DC); Osakis - Drew Imdieke 6-yard run; Missed conversion (12-7 Osakis); Osakis - Tyson Hagedon 12-yard run; Missed conversion (18-7 Osakis); Osakis - Drew Imdieke 1-yard run; Kyle Mages 2-point conversion pass to Carter Watnaas (26-7 Osakis); W-DC - Payton Rondestvedt 2-yard pass to Josh Dykhoff; Missed conversion (26-13)

THIRD QUARTER - No scoring

FOURTH QUARTER - W-DC - Payton Rondestvedt 3-yard pass to Josh Dykhoff; Blocked PAT (26-19 Osakis); Osakis - Tyson Hagedon 4-yard run; Hagedon 2-point conversion run (34-19 Osakis)

Eric Morken is a sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press Newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota, a property of the Forum News Service. Morken covers a variety of stories throughout the Douglas County area, as well as statewide outdoor issues.
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