Photo by Brian Russell . Junior Winhawk Tanner Remlinger blazed by the Wingers last Tuesday.
by Sarah Squires
Bittersweet end for Winhawk seniors
by AMELIA WEDEMEYER
It’s nights like last Tuesday that define not only a football season full of peaks and valleys, but also create lasting memories of brotherhood and friendship regardless of the score shown in the remaining seconds of an arduous football game.
For the Winona Senior High School (WSHS) Winhawks, the quarterfinal game of the Section 1AAAA on Tuesday, October 21, was, in some ways, not indicative of the hard-fought football season. Although the fifth-seeded Winhawks came into the playoffs with a regular season record of 1-7, and ultimately lost the game to the fourth-seeded Red Wing High School (RWHS) Wingers (2-6) 62-40, the team never ceased hope that they could pull off an underdog victory. “I know our record this year didn’t show what we wanted to be,” admitted WSHS senior Fosters Zittel. “But we showed heart and I’m proud of all my teammates.”
From the beginning the Winhawks trailed the Wingers, who had home field advantage, falling behind 14-0 after the first quarter. But the Winhawks battled back with valiant effort, including a touchdown pass from junior quarterback Phillip Appicelli to freshman Joshua Bade, which made the score 14-7. While the Wingers were able to get in one more touchdown before halftime, the Winhawks’ defense managed to hold them off 20-7 going into the third quarter. “We were constantly making plays,” said Winhawks’ head coach John Cassellius. “We moved the ball and we were able to put up points.”
A pass from Appicelli to senior co-captain Casey Machajewski resulted in a 23-yard touchdown, topped off with a successful extra point gained by newly acquired kicker senior Michael Lubahn, who joined the team after playing goalie for the Winhawks boys varsity soccer team. Unfortunately the excitement in a close game was short lived, and the Wingers went on to score three more touchdowns, bringing the score to 41-14. The third quarter ended with one more touchdown from the Winhawks on a 5-yard run by Appicelli. The fourth quarter of the game resulted in a series of touchdowns and fumbles from both teams, and in the end, Winona was unable to catch up to the Wingers. From the sidelines and on the field, the Winhawks watched as the clock ticketed down to the final seconds and the Wingers celebrated a season still alive at the time, though Red Wing would go on to lose to 69-29 to top-seeded Stewartville High School.
After the defeat the Winhawks gathered in a circle and listened as Cassellius addressed the game and the season. “We played hard,” he said. “[In the end] no one remembers the wins or losses, you remember the times on the buses, the practices, the Winhawk way.” The end of the season produced a sobering effect as emotions ran raw and teammates embraced one another. For the WSHS seniors their final high school football game was especially meaningful. “Work hard; enjoy when you’re playing because it goes by fast,” Zittel advised his younger teammates. “I wouldn’t change anything. I love all of the brothers I played with this season and we had to respond to adversity.”
Another WSHS senior, Calvin Greene, who transferred this year from Park High School in Cottage Grove, said that although this was only his team for one season, he was especially proud to call himself a Winona Winhawk football player. “[My team] was always there for [each other],” he said after the game. “At my old school no one cared, everyone knows and cares for people here. We are a brotherhood.” Greene, too, addressed his entire team after the loss and told them, “I wouldn’t kill my shoulders for anyone else! My time here went by so fast.” He continued, offering advice for younger players. “Play like it’s your last game. I wouldn’t change it for anything.”