By Jake Schroer
Crow River News Sports
Throughout the season, the Knights football team prided itself on capitalizing on opportunities. In the Class 5A semifinal against the Owatonna Huskies, the script flipped as the Huskies made STMA pay for some costly errors in a 27-7 win. The loss ended the season for STMA.
Things started innocently enough when Dallas Freeman intercepted a pass on the opening drive of the game. However, the Knights offense failed to score; a sign of things to come. Owatonna righted its wrong on its next drive, scoring on a 30 yard touchdown pass from Ian Langeberg to Sam Fenske.
The Knights moved the chains at times, but failed to get much going in the first two quarters. After Aaron Peterson ran for a seven yard touchdown to give Owatonna a 14 point lead, STMA knew it had to make a play.
The opportunity came midway through the second quarter when, after a Dallas Freeman catch, the Knights had the ball deep in Huskies territory. A series of events backed the Knights into a fourth and goal situation from the 23 yard line. Jackson Greenwaldt heaved the ball toward the endzone, and Matt Kisch came down with it despite getting facemasked. The Knights were back in the game.
Late in the half, with their fans roaring, it appeared the Knights would tie the game. However, on a play that defined the afternoon, Chris Kartes rumbled toward the endzone. The Huskie defense tore away at him and forced a fumble which Owatonna recovered on the three yard line. The Huskies ran out the clock.
The Knights never recovered, as Owatonna scored 13 points in the third quarter, building a 27-7 lead. STMA went three and out on the opening possession of the quarter, and Aaron Peterson scampered for his second touchdown of the afternoon on the subsequent possession.
Freeman fumbled on STMA’s next possession, and the Huskies added a field goal to the lead. Kicker Carter McCauley added another field goal late in the quarter. The Knights had a few opportunities down the stretch, including a possession starting in the red zone after a Garret Hahn punt return. Greenwaldt threw an interception to bring an end to the threat. Overall, Greenwaldt finished 9 of 25 for 152 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
After the game, coach Jared Essler said that STMA’s inability to run the ball (a grand total of 61 yards) was the difference in the game. Essler told his team not to be sad that it lost the game, but rather that the state run was over.
“Those kids worked hard for us and they’ve had a lot of fun along the way, and that’s the hard part, to see it end, to see them like that.”
Essler gave credit to Owatonna, calling the Huskies a complete team that had a good shot at winning the state title.
Weekly Knights playmaker Freeman echoed his coach’s sentiments about being sad that the season was over.
“Some of us seniors won’t even see each other again, so I think that’s what’s so sad about it,” Freeman said. Despite the loss, Freeman and the other seniors accomplished a goal set in ninth grade; play at the Metrodome.
Freeman feels the Knights will have another successful season next year with Greenwaldt returning, along with some good receivers and a good offensive line. As for Freeman himself, he said he will try and play college football.
Essler said he will remember the unity of this team above all else.
“There weren’t any egos, we had some guys get some big stats that we ran the majority of the offense through, but there were people that were happy with accepting their roles and did those things really well.”
STMA finishes the season with a record of 10-2, losing only on a failed two-point conversion against Rogers and against a very tough Owatonna Huskies team.