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Football: K-M ends Wingers' season

Mac DeSutter grabs the ankle of a Kasson-Mantorville runner while Jack Kelly wraps up for the tackle during the Wingers' 37-0 loss to the KoMets in Tuesday's Section 1AAAA quarterfinal game. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)

KASSON – Minutes after playing the final game of his high school career, Red Wing senior Seth Morem politely answered a question. Before the interview could continue, a man came from the opposite sideline and interrupted the conversation. Wearing a blue pullover with a Kasson-Mantorville logo, the man congratulated Morem on a good game, a 37-0 Section 1AAAA quarterfinal KoMets win.

“You are a classy player,” the man said, shaking Morem's hand. “All class. It was fun to watch you.”

Morem said thanks in response, and the interview continued with Morem picking up where he left off, talking about teammates instead of himself, saying he will never forget the season, even though much of it, from the weekly scoreboard to a mid-season coaching change, would give most people a reason to want to immediately move on.

“Like I told my mom, it's like an episode of Friday Night Lights at times. I'll never forget this for the rest of my life, that's for sure.

“But through it all, I'm going to look back on this and know that I got through the adversity. I'll never experience the changes that we had this year. When we were facing certain situations, we really grouped together. We might not have been the best football team, but we learned a lot of life lessons and I'm really proud of my teammates. The captains, David Howe, Ted Nelson, they kept the team together. It's been a hell of a year, and I'll never forget it.”

Winless coming into the game, the sixth-seeded Wingers would need to pull of a stunning upset to continue their season. And for 24 minutes, that possibility was somehow resistant to the prevailing wisdom.

Third-seeded K-M got on the board with 2 minutes, 51 seconds left in the first quarter on a 12-yard Brendan Knoll run. Knoll would make it 14-0 at 8:59 of the second with a 10-yard reception from Matt Winkle.

But that was all the scoring in the first half. Red Wing did not really threaten much offensively, but with only two touchdowns to make up, and with enough playmakers to do that on special teams or defense, especially with the wet conditions, the comeback was doable.

But the second half was marred by an inability to catch a snap, resulting in several drives that were over before they started.

“We had our chances, and if things went our way, we could have been closer at halftime,” said co-head coach Kyle Blahnik. “But the conditions weren't favorable for throwing the ball.”

The passing was supposed to be a key to the game, but a stiff wind and rain made that tough. As did the lack of a focus on that part of the offense for most of the season.

Yet Blahnik wanted to throw no matter what.

“We wanted to make it fun for the kids,” Blahnik said.

Wingers quarterback Marcus Walm finished 2 of 13 for 17 yards, and had five carries for minus-39 yards thanks to falling on multiple snaps that sailed over his head. Morem had 20 carries for 74 yards, but lost 25 yards on three bad snaps for a net of 49 yards. Seth Cushing had one carry for 16 yards on a fake punt, and two catches for 17 yards. Coming in late, David Howe finished 0 for 4 passing with an interception.

Winkle's 10 carries totaled 68 yards, including a 36-yard run following a third-quarter safety. Winkle also hit 6 of 11 passes for 52 yards.

Josh Maynard had five carries for 60 yards, including a third-quarter touchdown, while Jack Bratlien recovered a blocked punt in the end zone near the end of the third. Knoll had three carries for 42 yards and two catches for 22 yards.

The KoMets out-gained the Wingers 263-47. K-M (7-2) moves on to the semifinals where they will face a road test against second-seeded Stewartville on Saturday.

Red Wing finishes the season 0-9, and, counting three this season, on a search for its fifth head coach in four seasons.

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 kstevens@republican-eagle.com, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
(651) 301-7879
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