Back in summer camp, Kasson-Mantorville Matt Winkle had his eyes set on the upcoming season. With an electric sophomore season in the rear view mirror, the upcoming junior season for Winkle needed to be a step forward to help the KoMets reach the state tournament. With that in mind, he looked back one more time and wrote a giant W on his wrist band.
The W isn’t to proclaim his love for the Chicago Cubs or a proclamation of his last name. Rather, the W stands for Winona, the team that ended the KoMets’ season in the Section 1AAAA championship game in a 44-13 defeat.
“He’s definitely been looking forward to it,” K-M head coach Broc Threinen said. “It’s just been there since the summer to remind him of the beating he took in that game.”
Of course, the KoMets needed to earn the right to face Winona and in their section opener against Faribault looked up to the challenge as they pounded the Falcons 43-16.
The KoMets wasted little time in asserting themselves against Faribault as Brett Paulson stripped Mitch Nelson on one of the first plays of the game and ran straight to the end zone as K-M took an early 8-0 lead after a Robby Horsman two-point conversion.
“One of the biggest things with playoff games is that early turnovers can set the tone,” Threinen said of the play. “We were able to force one right away and it really set the tone for us.”
The offense needed a little time to get acclimated to the Faribault defense, but once they did, the KoMets looked like the same team they have been all season long. Horsman, Easton Knoll and Dalton Head would each add rushing touchdowns to cap off long drives in the second quarter and the KoMets headed into the locker room with a 29-0 halftime lead.
“It was good to start out fast like that,” Threinen said. “We had a good week of practice and we were able to get creative with the 10-day layoff. We had some shorter days and were able to add some new things. These kids just love playing football, so that always makes things easier.”
Winkle would add a pair of touchdowns (a pass to Knoll and a 41-yard touchdown run) to help the lead swell to 43-0 after three quarters with Faribault adding a couple scores of their own in the fourth quarter.
The type of dominant performance the KoMets had should help set the tone for Friday night when they take on Winona at Rochester Mayo High School. With the Winhawks possessing an offense that has plenty of quick strike ability, Threinen believes that the best defense may be keeping their offense off the field.
“They can definitely hurt you explosively in one play,” Threinen confirmed. “We have to be able to tackle and we have to defend the long ball. We need to put guys in the right position to succeed and put pressure on them when we can. We also need to maintain our drives, too. If we can continue to get four yards a carry and grind some long drives out, that will be great.”
All of the preparation should match the hype as the KoMets were anxious to get this rematch going.
“We’ve been studying a lot of last year’s game throughout the entire offseason,” Threinen said. “We figured that they were probably going to be the team we had to get through in order to get where we wanted to go.”