Winhawk Terrell Hall caught a Bosteter pass in the 34-14 game.
by BEN MCLEOD
It was a chilly matchup in Rochester last Friday for the Winona Winhawks. But after a tense first half, they strolled in with a 34-14 victory against the Kasson-Mantorville KoMets, to take the Section 1AAAA championship trophy. The first-seed Winhawks, undefeated at 10-0, meet the unranked Fridley at Farmington on Friday, November 10, for the last game before the state high school football final four.
The KoMets were no pushover. KM running back Robby Horsman (#23) was the thorn in the Winhawks’ side, but it was Matt Winkle (#10) who fell into the Winhawk end zone in the first, opening the board at 0-7. K-M was feeling good and continued their drive, thriving off a ‘Hawk fumble until a botched KoMets field goal attempt by Winkle gave Winona possession. After a drive Winhawk Robert Warren (#28) evened out the board on an 11-yard run to end the first quarter 6-7. The second was all about the downs for Winona, as slippery Winhawk Warren spun nimbly through the KoMet line, totaling 107 yards for 22 attempts. Stalwart wide receiver Dakota Matthees notched another touchdown for Winona, carrying in a nine-yard pass from Bosteter, missing the conversion but still taking over with 12-7. Matt Winkle took in another for the KoMets with an impressive 67-yard run, but a one-yard touchdown by Warren with four minutes left in the half put the Winhawks into the lead at halftime at 18-14, a lead they wouldn’t give up for the remainder of the game.
In the second half Winona increased its lead with a field goal ding off the post from Josh Bade (#2) to 21-14 in the third quarter. Bosteter was relentless, delivering pass after pass to his receivers, connecting with Terrell Hall (#4) once for an eight-yard gain and again for a 46-yard catch that brought the score to 28-14. Josh Bode got his first conversion of the night, after two previous failed attempts. Winona’s Head Coach John Cassellius observed that “Kasson blocked the first, we picked up the pace with the second ... We were trying to adjust, but just needed to focus instead.” Riley Bosteter ran in the last points in the game on a one-yard touchdown, and the Winhawks only had to maintain their slick defense through the fourth to end with 34-14.
Winhawk senior QB Riley Bosteter was at the center of the Winona offense on Friday, running in 101 yards for the game out of 23 attempts, and completing 15 of 19 passing attempts for 254 yards. Cassellius said, “We ask him to do a lot; he’s involved in running, he’s a defender in the box.” Bosteter is currently 25th in the state with 1,340 passing yards. Senior Robert Warren also made a notable showing on his first reappearance on the field after an injury versus Mankato East in October, rushing for 107 out of 22 attempts. He sits with 508 yards out of 68 attempts for the season. Offensive lineman Nick Waldo (#77) is currently the number-one all-time WSHS record holder for sacks at 15, with 7.5 takedowns in this season alone. Terrell Hall (#4) is eighth in the state for interceptions at five. “He’s a phenomenal cornerback with great closing speed,” said Cassellius. Senior Dakota Matthees (#32), at 6’5” and 215 pounds, is 12th in the state for receiving with 682 yards. Cassellius praised his high-pointing ability. “He’s doing a nice job.”
The Winhawks have a week to prepare for their next game against Fridley. Coach Cassellius takes the Tigers seriously. “They’re a very skilled team. They’ve got a quarterback who’s good at running and throwing, and a tailback with great vision.” That quarterback, Noah Couwenhoven, was the backbone in third-seed Fridley’s double-overtime 49-48 defeat of DeLaSalle on Friday. And the Winhawks plan to keep the bell-cow tailback in focus.
The Winhawks have no worries about leaving Paul Giel for the year. “We lost one to [Mankato] West last year, and two the previous year; three road losses in three years is pretty good,” Cassellius explained.