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Football: Numbers add up in Wingers loss

Led by Jeremy Banks (68), a pack of Red Wing defenders swarm in to tackle Farmington running back Noah Kary during the first half of Friday’s Missota Conference game at Red Wing High School. The Tigers came away with the victory, 37-7. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)1 / 2
Red Wing quarterback Isaac Toivonen releases a pass during Friday’s game against Farmington. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)2 / 2

There are football classes for a reason, and that was apparent Friday night as Farmington spoiled Red Wing’s home opener with a 37-7 Missota Conference victory.

The Wingers, a Class 4A school, held their own in the first half against the Tigers, a Class 6A institution. In fact, if a couple passes were not dropped, there was a good chance Red Wing could have gone into the half tied, or even ahead.

“I think I looked, and they had 32 seniors and 37 juniors on the roster,” said Red Wing head coach Matt Schultz of facing a school that boasts about 1,000 more students according to the Minnesota State High School League classification system.

Schultz also mentioned that to combat the discrepancy, he tried to play some players one way, keeping key components off the field for half the game to save some legs. The problem there is that Schultz is turning to sophomores to fill holes instead of a backup senior or junior.

“We can compete if we do things that we can do,” Schultz said. “And that’s the thing; we have to play in our system and do what our guys can do. That was a big team, and so was Shakopee. And once we get outside ourselves, like we did in the second half, we start doing some things that we aren’t used to doing.”

None of that seemed to matter much in the first 24 minutes of the game.

Farmington scored on its first possession, capping a seven-play, 40-yard drive with a Tyler Van Winkle 11-yard scoring pass to Jordan DeCroock. After that, the Wingers forced the Tigers to punt twice and turn the ball over on downs in their next three possessions.

The Red Wing offense wasn’t able to move the ball much either, punting on its first three possessions before giving the ball back on downs on its fourth.

After another punt, the Tigers’ Noah Kary broke off a couple of sizeable runs as Farmington capped a second drive with Van Winkle’s second touchdown pass, one that found the leaping Mac Bassett at the front pylon.

But the Wingers would answer with a 41-yard strike of their own when Isaac Toivonen hit Ben Miller, who backpedaled into the end zone to cut Farmington’s lead in half.

“Not a lot of guys run a better route than Ben Miller,” Schultz said.

That score was the first time Toivonen hit on a big gainer, though there were several chances in the first half. Overall, Toivonen finished 14 of 33 for 181 yards and the one touchdown, all while leading the team in rushing with 19 yards on 14 carries.

Miller hit the 100-yard mark, on the nose, with his seven receptions, followed by Ben Munson’s three catches for 54 yards. Travis Toivonen caught three balls for 30 yards.

Perhaps the toughest part of the game for the Wingers was once the Tigers took a three-score lead, Farmington was able to sit back and wait for Toivonen to throw as the Wingers had little ground game to speak of.

“We have to find a running game a little bit, just a little bit, just to balance it out,” Schultz said.

The Tigers pulled away with a Kary touchdown run on the opening drive of the second half, followed by a Van Winkle touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter. Two late touchdowns sealed the deal for Farmington, which moves to 3-0 overall, and 2-0 in the Missota.

For the Wingers (0-3, 0-2), the biggest part of the schedule is over, if not the toughest. But Toivonen doesn’t want to hear any more about playing against bigger schools. The proof was there in the first half Friday, and he wants to see his team make strides to close the gap.

“I really don’t believe in 6A schools or 7A schools or whatever it is, I don’t think it should be something … we should be able to compete with any school,” the senior quarterback said. “We have to put in the time in the summer, and put more time into film and just play better throughout the week and work harder.

“Playing against a 6A team is hard, they have more guys. But we should be able to hang around with them. They were up in the first half because we didn’t complete five or six plays we should have. It’s on me, it’s on our team. It’s our fault. We weren’t on the same page.”

The Wingers will host Chaska at 7 p.m. next Friday.

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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