Winhawks overpower KoMets in section championship
In their first year playing against bigger schools, the Kasson-Mantorville football team was just one win away from advancing to the state tournament, but their opponent, the Winona Winhawks, were simply too good as they beat K-M 40-21 in the section championship game.
The Winhawks got the first touchdown of the game when running back Trevor Pomeroy ran it in from 24 yards out. The extra point was good and Winona held an early 7-0 lead.
After stopping Winona’s first possession, K-M Interim Head Coach Joel Swanson said the Winhawks found success running the ball on their first touchdown drive.
“They decided to run it right at us. They have probably the best offensive line we've faced this season,” he said.
However, the KoMets responded when receiver Jakob Aarsvold scored on a two-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter. Aaron Winkle’s extra point attempt was good and the score was tied, 7-7.
After trading punts, Winona broke through Kasson-Mantorville’s defense when Jackson Nibbelink scored on an 82-yard touchdown run.
Trailing 7-14, the KoMets tried to tie the game once again in the final three minutes of the first half, but quarterback Peyton Wilke’s pass was intercepted by Winona’s Trenten Langowski and returned for a touchdown.
Swanson believes Wilke’s injury earlier in the game probably led to the interception.
“Looking back, Wilke's hand had probably already caused issues for him to hold on to the football,” he said. “Winona's defense was also getting pressure on us, especially the defensive end, Witt. He is one of the top high school defensive linmemen that I have coached against.”
The pick-six gave Winona a 20-7 lead at halftime.
Despite trailing by 13 points, he talked to his team at halftime about being optimistic about their chances in the second half.
“We talked about how all we needed was two touchdowns and we'd be ahead. Then we mentioned how we were behind by more than that (20 - 3) the first time we played them,” he said.
Indeed, the KoMets would need a strong second half if they were going to upset the undefeated Winhawks, but Winona made sure that didn’t happen by scoring the first two touchdowns of the second half.
The first touchdown came on a 22-yard touchdown pass by Nibbelink to receiver Austin Mlynczak, while the second came on a five-yard run by Pomeroy.
Now trailing 7-34, K-M running back Cade Spreiter scored on a 14-yard run to trim Winona’s lead to 20 points, 34-14.
However, the Winhawks responded with a 12-yard touchdown run by Dominic Davis to pull ahead 40-14.
In the final minute of the game, Spreiter scored his second touchdown on a four-yard run to make the final score 21-40 in favor of Winona.
Swanson lauded his seniors for their leadership throughout the season.
“They have had a great season. They have played hard and lead the way. Overcoming adversity along the way,” he said.