By Matt Funderburk ’21 and Becca Neuger
The Mound Westonka High School football team, now 6-0 on the year, pulled off an impressive 29-17 Homecoming win over the Minneapolis Southwest Lakers to clinch its third straight subdistrict title.
“It is truly a great feeling to be crowned the 2017 Twin Cities Gold Subdistrict Champions,” said White Hawks head coach Nick David. “To win three subdistrict championships in a row is a true testament to the hard work and dedication that the boys have put in the past few years.”
David said that the accomplishment is “extra special” due to the fact that the team lost many key players to graduation last year and was moved into a much more difficult subdistrict and schedule this season.
“We knew coming into the season that we would have our hands full on a weekly basis due to the fact that three of the teams on our schedule are Class 5A,” said David. “We have been so proud of our boys and their resiliency and will to fight all four quarters against each opponent we have played thus far.”
The White Hawks and Lakers started the game in a defensive battle. The score was 0-0 at the end of the first quarter. The White Hawks offense came to life early in the second quarter, when senior running back Bobby Sweet scored a short rushing touchdown.
Later in the second quarter, White Hawks junior quarterback Brandon Hokkanen found junior wide receiver Sam Default for a 27-yard touchdown pass to increase the White Hawks’ lead to 14-0. The Lakers then drove down field but had to settle for a field goal to go into halftime with the score at 14-3.
The White Hawks defense struggled in the third quarter, giving up two long yard touchdowns. When it seemed like the Lakers had all the momentum, senior wide receiver Evan Dahl returned a kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown. The White Hawks led 21-17 at the end of the third quarter.
The game was a nail-biter until the end of the fourth quarter, when Sweet put the cherry on top by scoring another short rushing touchdown. Dahl caught the two-point conversion pass for a 29-17 White Hawks win.
Hokkanen finished the game 10-for-19 with 143 passing yards and one touchdown. Dahl turned in a magnificent performance, finishing with 107 yards receiving on six receptions. He also pitched in four tackles on defense. Sweet had another huge game running the ball, finishing with 152 yards on 23 carries. Sweet also scored two touchdowns and had a huge game on defense, forcing a fumble and recording five tackles, including a tackle for loss.
Juniors Kris Kurtz and Zach Simmons led the defense, recording 10 and seven tackles, respectively, and having two tackles for loss apiece. Dufault had a great game on defense as well, pitching in five tackles and a pass deflection. Junior Jose Gonzalez pitched in four tackles, three of which were for a loss. Gonzalez also recovered a fumble.
The White Hawks face their biggest challenge by far this Friday, Oct. 13, against the undefeated and #1 ranked St. Croix Lutheran Crusaders. The Crusaders are 6-0 as well and have defeated all opponents by 17 or more points this season.
“It’s a game we’re looking forward to,” said Dahl. “It’s gonna be a tough game.”
The White Hawks have one remaining regular season game at home on Oct. 18 against the St. Paul Central Minutemen, who are 1-5 on the season.
Coach David said, “Our team goals moving forward are to finish the regular season as strong as we can, improving with each and every snap in order to better prepare us for our ‘second season,’ the Section 5AAAA playoffs, which begin in two weeks.”
Photos by Dennis Hoogeveen
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