Football: Wingers suffer season-ending lossInjuries, penalties cost Red Wing in Section 1AAAA playoff game vs. Byron
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
BYRON, Minn. — Red Wing head coach Matt Schultz wondered aloud what else could go wrong Tuesday night against Byron during the first round of the Section 1AAAA playoffs.
The entire season the Wingers dealt with crushing injuries and Tuesday was supposed to finally be the night they got healthy.
Instead, starting quarterback Isaac Toivonen went down with an injured left shoulder early in the second quarter with Red Wing driving and Schultz was forced to go with his third-string quarterback and starting wide receiver, Ben Miller.
“Isaac going down early is always tough to deal with,” Schultz said. “It hurts us in other positions when we have to slide guys all over the place.”
The Wingers also committed 11 penalties for 95 yards and allowed three big passing plays as Byron took control of the game in the second quarter on the way to a 29-6 victory.
“Byron played very hard tonight,” Schultz said. “Credit goes to (them). I don’t think any of our players overlooked this game.”
Byron’s starting quarterback Jack Nelson was the difference maker against the Wingers, connecting on 10 of 16 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns, all of the yards coming in the first half. He also ran for a touchdown in the opening half and finished with nine rushes for 46 yards.
The first quarter was a stalemate but the Bears found an opening in the middle of the field throughout the second quarter. Byron scored first on a 56-yard passing strike with 5 minutes, 30 seconds left in the second quarter and added another 62-yard touchdown pass with 2:24 remaining in the half. Yet another long pass for 39 yards led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Nelson as time expired in the half to give Byron a 20-0 lead.
“It looked like we weren’t quite sure what we were doing in the secondary,” Schultz said. “The middle of the field seemed to be wide open and they exploited it.”
With the game still within reach in the second half, Red Wing suffered through turnovers, drops and more penalties to give Byron the win. Tyler Rea scored the Wingers’ lone touchdown on a 6-yard reception from Miller with 4:39 left in the third quarter.
Byron tallied a 21-yard field goal with 9:24 left in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
“We just weren’t good enough at the talent positions,” Schultz said. “But the guys played their hearts out and that’s all I can say.”
Andre Page led Red Wing with 13 carries for 60 yards and added two catches for 34 yards. Michael Friedrich finished with seven carries for 41 yards.
Red Wing finishes the season with a 1-8 overall record and Byron advances to face second-seeded Kasson-Mantorville Saturday in Kasson.