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Football: Emotional Goodhue finds a way against W-K

Goodhue's Ryan Schoenfelder (42) and Casey Ryan tackle Wabasha-Kellogg running back Cooper Holtorf during the Wildcats' 27-13 victory on Friday in Goodhue. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)

GOODHUE – An emotional evening took a left turn on the first snap of the game. But the Goodhue Wildcats took the gut punch, and would eventually wear down Wabasha-Kellogg with some body blows of their own for a 27-13 Mid-Southeast East District victory on Friday night.

As has become custom over the past five years, teams across the state take part in a Tackle Cancer Night, begun by the Minnesota Football Coaches Association in 2012. Goodhue's was Friday. The program for the game featured the five O'Reilly brothers: Bailee, Kaleb, Kelby, Baxter and Maddox. All play football, and along with the rest of the team and the community, celebrated the life of their mother, who died from Neural Sheath Sarcoma nearly eight years ago.

“I always want to play for the team. Obviously it's a big night, but I play for my teammates, too,” Bailee said. “We dedicated this game to my mom. It was emotional at first, but I settled down and played better as the game went on.”

So did the rest of the Wildcats.

On the first play from scrimmage, Cooper Holtorf went 65 yards with maybe a brush of his jersey along the way. For all of the feelings on and around the field, a 7-0 deficit 14 seconds into the game was not in the cards for the Wildcats. And a seven-play drive that ended in a punt didn't help on Goodhue's first drive.

The Wildcats would, however, turn things around with their next possession. Mason Huemann finished off a 66-yard, seven-play drive with a nine-yard run that tied the game with 3:32 left in the first quarter.

On W-K's next drive, the Falcons ground the game to a halt. For a team that Bailee said Goodhue figured would throw the ball, W-K instead kept to its spinning option attack of old. The Falcons, over the final three minutes of the first, and more than four minutes of the second, ran 18 plays that covered 77 yards and ended with Holtorf's second touchdown of the game. Trailing 13-7 after the missed point after, Goodhue needed an answer.

As it turned out, Jack Gadient's 40-yard touchdown hookup with Mariano Bigalk would suffice. The two teams took that 14-13 score into halftime, where the Wildcats sought some changes on defense.

“We were playing a different defensive scheme to slow down their passing, and then have two guys on (Jackson Gosse), their big-play guy,” Bailee said. “But then we switched to our base defense and that helped. Everyone knew what they were doing then. There was no more confusion.”

In the second half, W-K crossed the 50-yard line just once, and that was for one play. Goodhue, meanwhile, opened the third quarter with a 10-play, 65-yard drive that ended with Huemann's second touchdown, a 13-yard run with 7:02 on the clock that showed the Falcons what the rest of the game would look like.

“We knew what to expect, we just didn't think they'd be that effective loading the box,” said Huemann, who rushed 19 times for 67 yards and two scores.

Less than three minutes later, after a W-K punt, Gadient all but ended the game with a floater to a wide-open Ryan Schoenfelder, who was left alone on a play fake that allowed the Wildcats to salt away the game in the fourth quarter.

“Our offensive line is smart, and we talked at halftime, but guys made the plays, as well,” said Goodhue head coach Tony Poncelet. “We got another guy out of the box after that, and Mason started turning those two- and three-yard gains into six or seven. And that's when we get good, the guys feed off of that.”

Gadient finished 10 of 14 for 180 yards and two touchdowns with Schoenfelder snagging three of those passes for 60 yards. Bigalk had four catches for 64 yards. Bailee had 18 tackles to lead the defense, while Huemann added 15 tackles and an interception.

The Wildcats held two W-K passers, Trevor Timm and Holtorf to a combined 5-for-14 for 24 yards, but Holtorf did total 129 yards on 21 carries.

Fourth-ranked Goodhue (2-0, 1-0 East) will take a long bus ride next week to take on Section and Class 1A rival Fillmore Central (1-1), the 10th-ranked team but coming off an 18-8 loss to Rushford-Peterson.

Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
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