Orioles seeded second in section tournament
By Nick Clark
& Bob San
Osseo-Maple Grove Sports
The topic wasn’t talked about during the week, an insistence from the Osseo football coaching staff to the young men who, even if they tried, couldn’t get it out of their minds.
Just one year ago – 364 days to be exact – Osseo hosted Totino-Grace with a Northwest Suburban Conference West Division championship at stake. The Eagles won 14-7 and the score did not reflect the manner Totino Grace handled Osseo. The Eagles controlled the line of scrimmage and completely shut down Osseo’s run-oriented offense. Not even eventual state champion Eden Prairie dominated the Osseo offense the way the Eagles did.
Last week, as fate would dictate, the two teams met again. The incentives were the same. Both teams entered 6-1 overall and 4-0 in NWSC West Division play. The outcome, however, was everything but.
Entering this year’s rematch, Osseo coach Derrin Lamker felt much better about his team’s chances. “I think we match up better because we have a more diversified offense,” Lamker said, adding that the 2013 Osseo offense can pass and run equally well.
Osseo made the trek to Totino-Grace, and after a scoreless first half that saw both teams threaten but neither finish, the Orioles extracted that unspoken vengeance with a 28-14 victory.
“We don’t like to talk about revenge during the week,” admitted senior quarterback Matt Miedtke. “But you know, in the back of your mind, it is there. We really wanted this one.”
Others likely didn’t mind it as well. The ghosts of opponents past have lingered for much of the last two decades at Totino-Grace, mainly because just about everybody to line up across the Eagles on their lot of land in Fridley didn’t last long. Minnetonka opened the 2012 season with a victory there, and Eden Prairie won a game at Totino-Grace earlier this season. But other than those two teams, no one had left victorious since 2005.
Osseo changed that emphatically last week, on a night when the Orioles were unquestionably the better team.
The Orioles won the battle on the lines. The offense line anchored by Alex Peterson, Martin Olson, Travis Mollen, Michael Griffin and Cameron Monson repeatedly opened up space for their backs. The result was the Orioles gained 275 rushing yards against a tough Eagles defense and two running backs finished with 100-plus yard performances – Prince Krauh had 149 and Jaimen Hampton 110. Miedtke, one of the top passing quarterbacks in the state, threw only 13 times and completed five for 73 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Defensively, the Orioles also won the battle in the trenches. Their front line of Rich Davis, Dennie Findley, Andrew Lanners, Ryan Lynch and Scott Hildebrand put tons of pressure on the Eagles backfield. They were backed up by linebackers Kwenton Perkins and Cameron Kelly and defensive backs Nick Brecht, Cortez Stanley, Jordan Hollie and Ryan Swenson. Osseo held Grace’s vaunted running game to just 95 yards.
Because of the great team effort, the Orioles are conference champions.
“Totino is a great team. Otherwise why would they move them up to Class 6AAAAAA?” Lamker said. “This was a big win for our team, our school and our community. You saw our guys’ will. They just don’t stop. They deserved this. They beat them.”
More so, they basically needed just two quarters to do it.
It started in a flurry after the second half kick-off. Osseo started the third quarter with the ball on its own 32-yard line, and on the very first play from scrimmage of the half, watched as Hampton ripped off a 68-yard touchdown run for the game’s first points.
The burst of momentum would be short-lived, as Totino-Grace answered right back with a seven-play scoring drive that evened the game at 7-7, but the defining moments of Osseo’s title run would play out on the Orioles very next drive.
Osseo used 11 plays to travel 65-yards, which ended with Krauh scoring untouched from two-yards out. Krauh carried the ball six times on the drive. Hampton ran it twice and Miedtke threw for a pair of first downs as the Orioles responded to that Eagles touchdown with a season-defining scoring drive of their own.
“That was probably the most important drive we have had all year,” said Miedtke, who later found Connor Kittleson for a 21-yard touchdown pass before putting the game away with an five-yard touchdown run of his own in the final two minutes.
“We just did the little stuff that whole drive,” Miedtke continued. “We kept grinding and grinding and grinding, and when we needed to make a throw, we did. That drive probably won us the game.”
If it didn’t, the final two scoring possessions certainly did, as Osseo extended its lead to 21-7 with 6:12 left in the game on that Miedtke pass to Kittleson. The score was set up by a pass interception by Brecht. After the Eagles had come back with a touchdown of their own, the Orioles made it 28-14 on a third down call that ended with Miedtke reaching the pylon with 1:57 to play after Krauh broke a big run,.
“They had some coverages to try to stop our receivers and when they did that we decided to run the ball. Our offensive line coach Andy Johnson made some great adjustments at halftime, and we found some holes,” said Lamker. “I feel really good for our kids. They really wanted this one, and they went out there and got it.”
The 7-1 and seventh-ranked Orioles received the second seed in the Section 5 Tournament. They open play at home against seventh-seeded Champlin Park Friday, Oct. 25. If they win, they will host the next game, probably against Prior Lake, Friday, Nov. 1. Maple Grove received the section’s top seed for the second straight season.
“Obviously you want the one seed but we lost a tiebreaker to Maple Grove,” Lamker said. “Hopefully they can accomplish something with the number one seed this year for our conference. And we’d like to accomplish something with the two seed and go on to the state tournament.”
After going through a tough regular season, Lamker feels his team is battle-tested and is ready for a strong post-season run. But he stresses that Osseo’s focus is on Champlin Park, a team coached by former Osseo standout Mike Korton.
“We are concentrating on Champlin Park. They are a pretty good seventh seed,” Lamker said.