Football: Osakis makes a mid-season statement against Morris
The Osakis football team had jumped out to a 4-1 record through five weeks, but those four wins came against teams with a combined 6-14 record.
If Friday’s game against 4-1 Morris Area-Chokio-Alberta was a statement game, consider it made. The Silverstreaks’ defense set the tone early by dominating the first half, barely letting the Tigers get past midfield through two quarters. That was a sign of things to come in the second half as Osakis stayed in control much of the night in a 14-6 win.
“The fact that we both had the same record this season was a huge motivator,” Osakis senior Jacob Backes said. “We want to prove ourselves out here facing teams that are just as good as us. It’s a huge (confidence-booster.) I just hope we don’t get big-headed from this, but they’re huge wins.”
Osakis got a three-and-out on Morris’ opening possession and proceeded to march right down the field offensively. Luke Imdieke and Backes both had strong runs on the drive before senior Triston Stoetzel carried a couple defenders across the goal line on a 9-yard touchdown run.
“It’s big to set the tone early,” Imdieke said.
Late in the half, it was Imdieke’s turn. Osakis turned the ball over on downs inside Morris’ 5-yard line but forced a Tigers’ punt on a three-and-out. Imdieke broke free a couple plays later on a 30-yard touchdown run that made it 14-0 after the Jonathan Lara extra point.
“The guys came out and played really physical right away,” Osakis head coach Bill Infanger said. “On a night like this when the ball is wet and everything is slipping, that was huge to get to play all night with a 14-point lead. Be conservative, run the football and punt it when we needed to.”
The Silverstreaks did not throw the ball once, but they didn’t need to. Osakis dominated defensively. Morris’ best field position came early in the fourth quarter when a short punt set the Tigers up at the Osakis 23-yard line. The Silverstreaks stuffed them for a loss on a third-and-1 run and then again on fourth down.
“That was a huge moment,” Infanger said. “At that point, we were up by the two scores. The whole game would have been different if they punch it in there.”
The Tigers’ only touchdown came with two minutes left when Camden Arndt got loose around the edge and went 25 yards to the end zone. Osakis never gave Morris the ball back as Imdieke put together a couple of runs to pick up a first down that allowed quarterback Hunter Infanger to kneel down for the win.
“As a team, we all were working together, doing our part and trusting the edge to keep contain,” Osakis senior linebacker Logan Hartshorn said of this defense. “We all were just working together as a team, as a family and getting it done.”
The Silverstreaks remembered how Morris Area snuck away with a 21-20 win against them a year ago. Arndt in particular was impressive that night, rushing for more than 200 yards to go along with a long punt return and a key interception. Except for that 25-yard touchdown, Osakis kept Arndt in check almost all night in this year’s rematch.
“Last year, they got some huge plays,” Backes said. “They ended up beating us, and we came out here to prove ourselves because of that game.”
The win against the Tigers is a big one against a district and section opponent, but coach Infanger said almost every win this season has been a statement game for his guys.
The Silverstreaks are coming off a 2-7 season where they played in a talented new district. Osakis players and coaches felt they would be much improved this fall, but they still had to go out and show that on the field.
“Every week is a new challenge, and every week feels like a statement game,” Infanger said. “The guys are showing up every day, working hard. They’re buying into running the football and being physical on offense and defense. So far, so good.”
At 5-1 now and 4-1 in the Mid State (Sub 2) District, the Silverstreaks are tied for second place in league play.
“It’s great. This team is really coming together,” Imdieke said. “We’re playing better than ever, so it’s really fun to be with this team.”
BOLD leads the district at 5-0, and the team tied with Osakis, Minnewaska, is coming to Osakis next Friday night at 7. The Lakers are 4-2 overall after dismantling Sauk Centre 44-14 on Friday. It will be another good test for the Silverstreaks, one week after passing a big one against Morris Area.
“It doesn’t get any easier in this district,” Infanger said. “It just seems like every week you have a big, physical, talented opponent coming in. We get to enjoy this for the weekend and then get ready for them.”
MORRIS AREA-CHOKIO-ALBERTA 0 0 0 6 - 6
OSAKIS 7 7 0 0 - 14
SCORING - FIRST QUARTER - Osakis - Triston Stoetzel 9-yard run; Jonathan Lara PAT
SECOND QUARTER - Osakis - Luke Imdieke 30-yard run; Lara PAT
THIRD QUARTER - No scoring
FOURTH QUARTER - Morris Area - Camden Arndt 25-yard run; missed 2-point conversion