by Bob San
Osseo-Maple Grove Sports
Kwenton Perkins was looking for confirmation and Connor Kittleson was seeking redemption. Both got their wish in Osseo’s impressive 20-7 win over No. 7 Andover in front of a packed Homecoming crowd last Friday.
Perkins, a senior linebacker, anchored an Osseo defense that held Andover’s explosive offense to under 200 yards. Kittleson, the senior receiver, made up for two dropped passes with an electrifying touchdown that gave Osseo a commanding lead in the second half.
Osseo led 7-0 at halftime thanks to its defense, which kept Andover scoreless even though the Huskies enjoyed great field positions because of a couple Osseo fumbles.
“Our defense has speed. I’ve always said that if you run a spread offense against us, our speed is tough,” Osseo coach Derrin Lamker said. “We showed that tonight.”
The Orioles put together a 10-play scoring drive culminated in a one-yard quarterback sneak by Matt Miedtke to grab a 7-0 halftime lead.
Osseo got the ball to start the second half and came close to breaking it open when Miedtke fired two perfect spirals to Kittleson that would have gone for big gains. But the sure-handed wideout could not quite hang on. Then came a crucial sequence that turned the game around.
After a short Osseo punt, Andover once again had great field position at the Osseo 47. The Huskies faced a third-and-one at the Osseo 39. Instead of running for a first down, Andover quarterback Connor Wilkie tried two long passes into the end zone. But Osseo corner back Ryan Swanson held his ground and broke up the plays and Osseo took over on downs.
“That definitely helped us in that situation,” Lamker said. “I think they were trying to figure out, ‘hey we are having trouble moving the ball, so let’s take a shot against their coverage.’ Luckily we made the plays.”
Osseo took over and struck quickly. On third-and-nine at the Osseo 28, Miedtke called Kettleson’s number again and delivered another perfect throw. Kittleson did not disappoint. He made his patented jump-over-the-defender catch and then raced into the end zone untouched for a 72-yard touchdown play that made it 14-0.
“I had the two drops before so I knew I had to come back and make a play,” Kittleson said. “No, I didn’t ask him (Miedtke) to throw to me. He has faith in me.”
Andover finally got on board with a three-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter but the Orioles responded immediately with an impressive scoring drive that featured both passing and running. Miedtke provided the key play when on third-and-nine at the Andover 47, he scrambled to avoid a heavy rush and tossed a 33-yard completion to Josh Goldschmidt. Then on third-and-nine at the Andover 12, Jaimen Hampton powererd for 10 yards to make it first-and-goal at the three. Hampton capped the drive with a two-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter to make it 20-7.
Andover had two more possessions but both ended in interception by Osseo corner back Jordan Hollie. Osseo’s offense then ran the ball efficiently to deny Andover possession until with just 2 minutes left.
Osseo chewed out 185 yards on the ground and Hampton led the way with 139 yards on 32 carries.
“We are proud of our run game. Our offensive line did a great job tonight,” Lamker said.
And Lamker is even prouder of the defense, as he gave them a special mention in the post-game huddle. Wilkie entered the game as the state’s second leading passer who averages over 300 yards and three touchdowns a game. The Orioles held him to 136 yards and two interceptions. The Huskies had only 58 yards rushing. For Perkins, this victory is confirmation that the Osseo defense is indeed for real.
“After taking that loss to Minnetonka we knew we had something to prove to our fans and ourselves,” Perkins said. “There were a lot of questions about if we are disciplined enough or if we are good enough. This is definitely the biggest victory so far this season. It was a surprise but then again it wasn’t when you prepared as hard as we did. We watched films for hours and our scouts did a great job of giving us nice looks of what their offense brings. We expected to win, but we did not expect to shut them out this bad.”
Lamker knew his team could handle Andover’s offense but was very surprised his D held Andover to seven points.
“If you have told me that I would have said you are crazy,” said Lamker, adding that the gutsy crosswind at Carl Tonn Field might have hampered Wilkie’s passing. “They just haven’t seen speed like that. But they are as good as Minnetonka with their physicality and skilled kids. Minus the winds tonight it would have been a different game.”
The windy conditions didn’t affect Miedtke, who entered the game as the third top passer in the state. He completed 11 of 21 passes for 201 yards (no interception) and would have had better stats if not for several dropped balls. Kittleson had five catches for 121 yards and Goldschmidt had two for 45 yards. Kittleson said entering the season the Orioles knew they would be able to pass the ball.
“We knew were going to be good,” he said. “During the school year all of us would meet up before school and we did throw around. And then during the summer we did passing leagues to prepare for the season.”
The hard work is paying off as the Orioles improve to 4-1 and climb to No. 7 in the most recent ranking. But they remain humble after the big win over Andover.
“We don’t think of this win as ‘We are good.’ We are never satisfied. We have to keep building up after every victory,” Perkins said. “We are far from where we want to be. We made a couple mistakes and we gave up big plays and the touchdown. We are getting close, but we are far from where we want to be. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
The Orioles next visit Park Center Friday, Oct. 4.