KoMets seal up Red Division title
The Kasson-Mantorville football team has had a tremendous season to date as they won their first six games of the season dating back to last Friday’s tilt against Pine Island. As they took the turf at KMTelecom Stadium, they had an opportunity to clinch their first division championship since 2013 (shared with Rochester Lourdes and Stewartville) and first outright title since 2009.
As the KoMets went out and picked up a 35-21 victory over the Panthers, Lourdes was pounded by Stewartville 58-3 to give K-M the Red Division championship. However, this is a team with bigger goals and while they recognize the significance of the honor, they still feel there is unfinished business heading into the section tournament.
“It’s great [to win the conference], but the section championship would mean a lot more to these kids,” K-M football coach Broc Threinen said. “It’s a regular season thing that’s a great honor and they’ve worked hard to get here, but I know that the postseason goals are more valuable to them.”
As another tuneup before the section tournament begins in two weeks, the Panthers came into town with an upset on their mind. As both teams grinded through the first quarter, Dalton Head would break through on a 19-yard touchdown run to put K-M on the board with a 7-0 lead.
The Panthers would respond with a long drive that would become their trademark of the first half. Making plays just in front of the KoMets’ defense, Pine Island would drive down the field and cap off their first drive with a Tanner Simon touchdown plunge to tie things up.
On the next drive, Matt Winkle found Wesley Asprey on a slant for a 14 yard touchdown pass to regain the lead, but the Panthers remained a resilient group. Once again, a series of key third down conversions helped drive the ball into K-M territory and Keegan Majerus lobbed a fade into the back corner of the end zone that was hauled in by Logan Andrist to make it 14-13 after a missed extra point.
“They just made every third down play,” Threinen said of the second quarter. “We just couldn’t get off the field. We had a couple of missed tackles and other situation where their kids just went up and got the ball. Hats off to them. They made some big plays that kept them in the game.”
As the second half began, the physical nature of the game began to wear down the Panthers, who were starting multiple players on both sides of the ball. Finally, the KoMets were able to strike pay dirt on a Winkle 39-yard touchdown run that put K-M up for good at 21-13.
After a Pine Island drive went nowhere, Winkle was at it again leading the team for another one-yard touchdown plunge to expand the lead and after a long Panther drive stalled deep in K-M territory, Winkle delivered the dagger with a 89-yard touchdown sprint to cap off his night at 16 carries for 170 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.
“It really helps us that we play as many guys as we can one way,” Threinen said. “We just kind of got better throughout the game tackling and the defense did their job. We stuck to some things that were working offensively and Matt broke a couple of long ones that broke their back.”
Keegan Majerus would hit Josh Navaratil for a 41-yard score in garbage time, but it was too late as K-M earned the 35-21 victory.
With a 7-0 record in the books, K-M wrapped up its regular season with a trip to Lake City on Wednesday night. From there, the real season begins for the KoMets as they’ll likely draw the second seed in the five-team Section 1AAAA tournament which will begin with a home game on October 28.