Winhawk quarterback Phillip Appicelli, junior, hunkered down with the ball last Thursday during the game against the Falcons. Photo by Amelia Wedemeyer
by AMELIA WEDEMEYER
The last game of the regular season did not go as planned for the Winona Senior High School (WSHS) Winhawks varsity football team (7-1), as they fell to the Faribault Falcons (6-2), 6-43. While a considerable number of fans showed up to support the Winhawks at Paul Giel Field last Thursday, the decisive Big Nine conference match up seemed to belong to the Falcons from the get-go. “Right now [Faribault] is looking at being one of the top three seeds in the [section 1AAAAA] class,” said Winhawks head coach John Cassellius. “We knew coming in they were a quality opponent. They’re strong and physical; they love to run the ball.”
The Falcons came out strong in the first quarter, but Winona managed to hang on, stopping the Faribault team from scoring more than two touchdowns. While the Winhawks Marching Band enthusiastically played “We’re All In This Together” from “High School Musical,” the first quarter ended. The sea of students and Winona community members in the stands did not cease in their outpouring of support, cheering enthusiastically “Wi-no-na!” with every play that seemed to be in the Winhawks’ favor. The team honored Breast Cancer Awareness Month survivors by donning pink socks, while many of the Winhawk supporters were clad in pink shirts that read “Hawks FLY Together,” which also showed solidarity. “Our guys were fighting and our fans were cheering — that’s a great environment,” Cassellius said after the game.
With about 2:25 remaining in the first half of the game, WSHS junior Chris Wisted scored, cutting the lead 14-6. Unfortunately for the Winhawks, the Falcons went on to score back-to-back touchdowns before halftime; including a quick drive down the field resulting in a touchdown and an interception with 18 seconds left on the game clock. “It probably should have been 7-14 going into halftime, except we gave them two touchdowns in the last two minutes before the half,” Cassellius explained, “and that’s a big momentum changer for you.”
WSHS senior captain Jared Biggerstaff later noted that the Winhawks struggled offensively to finish drives, while defensively they lacked overall coverage. “One thing we could have done better is stretch the field more,” he said.
After returning to the second half with a score of 6-29, the Winhawks seemed to lose momentum as the Falcons went on to rack up points. After several turnovers as well as a fumble from both teams, the Falcons, with possession, took a knee with 16 seconds remaining in the final quarter, making the final score 6-43.
Although the battle was tough, Cassellius was proud of the way his team got back up and continued to play, regardless of the score. “[In the third quarter we] made some adjustment and they came out fighting, showing that heart,” he said.
As for the season overall, Biggerstaff said that he was proud of his team’s accomplishments in the face of adversity. “Now it’s the playoffs and everyone is 0-0, so now it’s time to get to work,” he stated.
At the time this story went to print, the Winhawks were to take on Red Wing High School (2-6) on Tuesday, October 21, at 7 p.m. at Red Wing High School.