Courtney Korder was not going to miss his last homecoming.
A spiral fracture in his hand during Week 1 required three screws and surgery, keeping the Red Wing senior defensive lineman off the field. Korder was antsy to get on the field. So after missing four games and having his hand completely taped over, he was going to take his place across from the Faribault offensive line.
"Today, I put my cast on and I knew I was going to play good," Korder said. "I was going to make every single tackle I could get."
"There was no way I was going to miss this," Korder added, looking at his club-like taped right hand.
And, as it turned out, a one-handed player would lead the Wingers with 14 tackles on Friday.
"As soon as we were doing stuff in the gym, I'm like, 'OK, this is going to be a fun game for me,'" Korder said. "I knew right then I was going to make so many tackles. I just love this game. I love it too much. I couldn't just sit back and watch."
Ultimately, the Falcons' running attack was too much to overcome as Joe Palmer scored four touchdowns on the ground in a 28-6 Faribault win in Big Southeast Blue District play.
"We didn't play a particularly good game tonight, so hats off to Faribault," said Wingers head coach Nate Freier. "The Wing-T is a tough offense to defend. You don't see it every week. We had a good game plan starting out and we started losing steam a little bit in the second half."
While the outside runs were contained, Palmer's inside runs proved to be a tough task to stop. Ultimately, Palmer finished the night with 166 rushing yards on 33 attempts, with touchdown runs of 10, 4, 1 and 1 yards. As a team, Faribault (1-5, 1-2 Blue) ran for 214 yards, compared to 19 for the Wingers. Faribault quarterback Mitch Nelson managed to complete 3 of 7 passes for 82 yards, with 64 coming on one completion to Jack Grevious in the third quarter.
"What we got to focus on is we have to tackle better," Freier said. "(Then on offense) we got to sustain blocks and get our offensive linemen to the second level. Those are the areas we have on our whiteboard in the locker room."
Red Wing's offense was limited to 102 total yards. The bright spot came in the waning seconds of the second quarter when quarterback Marcus Walm found Tre Moore in the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown, cutting the deficit to 14-6 at halftime.
Walm finished the game 8 of 20 passing for 83 yards and an interception, and Moore was his favorite target with five catches for 59 yards. Mac DeSutter led the team in rushing with 15 yards on 10 carries to go with 11 tackles on defense. Sam Kelly rounded out a trio of double-digit tacklers with 12.
Losing to a previously winless Falcons team was tough to swallow, but the team, especially the seniors, know this season is about bringing a foundation to the Wingers' future. Broken hand and all, Korder hopes his example can help in that cause.
"I'm just trying to do everything I can to do that," Korder said. "If this doesn't inspire someone, I don't know what does."
Freier added, "No matter what, the seniors have to believe they're building something really important here. The trajectory of this operation is going up and we're not backing up."
Next week, Red Wing (0-6, 0-3 Blue) is on the road against Winona, Class 4A's top-ranked team. Things don't get much easier in Week 8 with eighth-ranked (5A) Mankato West in town.
"Let's not be afraid of playing anybody," Freier said.