By Matt Funderburk ‘21 and Becca Neuger
The Mound Westonka football team lost its first regular season game since Oct. 15, 2014 last Friday night, as the White Hawks suffered a 23-48 loss to No. 1-ranked Class 3A St. Croix Lutheran.
The White Hawks trailed early, with the Crusaders leading 21-0 at the end of the first. Things did not get better in the second quarter, with the home team finding their way into the end zone three more times. The score at halftime was 41-0.
In the third quarter, shortly after St. Croix scored its seventh touchdown, the White Hawks offense came to life when senior kicker Jonathan Neve booted a long 42-yard field goal to avoid a shutout. White Hawks junior fullback Kris Kurtz scored his first touchdown of the year to make the score 48-9 after a failed two-point conversion attempt. Kurtz rushed for 85 yards on 10 carries in the game and was second on the team with 10 tackles.
Sophomore linebacker Seth Anderson and junior defensive tackle Jose Gonzalez turned in great games on defense, recording 11 and nine tackles, respectively. Senior Bobby Sweet intercepted a Crusaders pass.
The White Hawks managed to score two more touchdowns in the final quarter. Star senior wide receiver Evan Dahl caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Brandon Hokkanen. Dahl had another big night, catching four balls for 129 yards and a touchdown. He also had 53 yards rushing. Hokkanen was 5-for-17 on the night with 151 yards and a touchdown.
Late into the fourth quarter, junior outside linebacker Zach Simmons scored a rushing touchdown to make the final score 23-48. The White Hawks’ 22-game regular season winning streak came to an end, but the team has much to look forward to.
“The past two seasons, our only losses have came in the playoffs,” said offensive coordinator Mike Wallace. “The good news about this loss is that it didn’t end our season.”
White Hawks head coach Nick David had nothing but respect for his team’s opponent. “Hats off to St. Croix Lutheran,” David said. “There definitely is a reason that they have won a couple of state championships in the past few years and that they are currently ranked No. 1 in the state. They are as good of a team as anyone we have ever played or that I have ever coached against.”
According to David, although the loss hurts, he thinks that it will add fuel to the fire and motivate the team as it moves into playoffs.
“I think we learned a lot about the physicality and execution it is going to take to win in the playoffs and take the next step as a program,” said David. “The speed and aggressiveness of St. Croix Lutheran was definitely a step up from teams that we have seen. All in all, it was a great experience to play them, as now we have a better understanding of what it is going to take to win in a very tough Section 5AAAA.”
The White Hawks (6-1) face St. Paul Central (2-5) at home at 7 p.m. this Wednesday, Oct. 18 in their regular season finale.
With only two days of practice to prepare for St. Paul Central, the team has been focusing on what it does well. “There is not a lot of time to install new plays or schemes, rather we will focus on cleaning up mistakes in all three phases,” said David.
The White Hawks’ first playoff game will be Tuesday, October 24. It is not yet determined if the game will be home or away or who their opponent will be.
Photos by Dennis Hoogeveen
[complete_gallery id=”72955″ class=”alignnone” ]