WINONA — A different mindset.
The Red Wing locker room had a different mindset this week coming off a win against Albert Lea in the Section 1AAAA opener.
"Everyone was a lot more happy and wanted to be there," said senior wide receiver Tre Moore. "Coming off a winless (regular) season, it was nice to have one in the playoffs. It's a better mentality for everyone. ... It was nice to have guys step up and to have them be positive."
A different mindset allowed the Wingers to have some more success against Winona than the Week 7 loss.
The result at Paul Giel Field Saturday was familiar, as the top-seeded and top-ranked Winhawks moved on with a 42-6 win over fifth-seeded Red Wing. But, the improvement was there to build on during the offseason.
"By in large, the two games compared to each other, I think we played a little bit better," said Red Wing head coach Nate Freier. "I know we played better. We played tougher and tackled better."
Winona showed their merit as a top-tier AAAA team, going up 42-0 by halftime thanks to a 21-yard, Riley Bosteter-to-Dakota Matthees pass and a 23-yard, Bosteter-to-Josh Bade connection in the first quarter. The Winhawks added four more scores in the second, with three on the ground (9 yards from Bosteter, 15 and 1 yard from Trevor Pomeroy) and one in the air (Bosteter to Terrell Hall, 59 yards).
Rushing was going to be tough against Winona, which proved true with the Wingers only getting one yard on the ground on 29 carries on Saturday. But, the combination of quarterback Seth Yeatman and Moore managed to move the ball. Yeatman finished the game 16 of 31 passing for 168 yards and three interceptions. And Moore was the main target, hauling in 10 catches for 144 yards.
"(The Winhawks) play nice defense so we knew we had to get the ball to the outside," Freier said. "Our gameplan was to get the ball outside, loosen up the defense a little bit and see what we could do there."
Moore added, "Yeatman's a great QB. He just knew where to put it and it's nice to have a guy who knows how to manipulate a defense. He played a great game and that helped a lot."
The Wingers' final drive of the year went 12 plays for 70 yards and ended with a 2-yard touchdown run from Jack Kelly.
On defense, Sam Kelly led Red Wing (1-9) with eight tackles, followed by six apiece from Teddy Tauer and Courtney Korder.
With the victory, Winona (9-0) will try to win its second straight section title Friday against second-seeded and undefeated Kasson-Mantorville.
The Wingers head into the offseason again, but feel like they're looking in the right direction.
"I think they're going to build a better program, for sure," Moore said. "These younger guys battled through adversity and stuck with it all season. It wasn't easy sticking with it all season. I think they'll definitely build a better program for Red Wing in the future."
And, Freier's sights are set for the 2018 kickoff.
"We'll give them a little bit of a break. We are going to do some innovative things because it's my first year and first offseason here," he said. "We are going to do some innovative things before winter sports start; Some things we'll try to reinforce that we taught them this year. We'll kick-start the weight program and all that kind of stuff so we know we're ready to roll going into the summer."