By Matt Funderburk ’21
The Mound Westonka High School football team was looking for a statement win on Oct. 12 against the St. Croix Lutheran Crusaders. However, a questionable call by officials late in the game likely cost the White Hawks both the win and also a higher section seeding.
The White Hawks were hoping to improve to 6-1 with a Senior Night home win and move their way up in the Class AAAA rankings to put themselves in a favorable position for the upcoming section playoffs. The White Hawks got on the board early when junior running back Noah Lietzau ran it in for a 1-yard score to take a 7-0 lead. The Crusaders tied it up later in the first quarter after the White Hawks defense gave up a 29-yard run. At the end of the first quarter, the White Hawks found themselves in the end zone again when senior quarterback Brandon Hokkanen found junior wide receiver Magnus Urth for a 30-yard touchdown pass to go ahead 14-7.
The White Hawks defense dominated the second quarter. Junior defensive back Cameron Oates intercepted a pass in Crusaders territory, and the White Hawks got the ball back in great field position. They settled for a field goal, with senior kicker Andrew Abegglen making a 37-yard kick. The White Hawks went into the half leading 17-7.
The White Hawks went scoreless in the third quarter, but their defense gave up a 25-yard touchdown pass. The Crusaders trailed 17-14 at the end of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Abegglen booted a 33-yard field goal to put the White Hawks up 20-14.
A the end of the fourth, the Crusaders marched down into White Hawks territory with just minutes remaining, needing a touchdown to tie and an extra point to win. The White Hawks defense came up big when senior safety Alex Farwell cleanly hit the Crusaders quarterback and senior defensive back Luke Holmen intercepted the pass. It seemed like the White Hawks had the game in the bag; however, the officials thought differently. The White Hawks got penalized for roughing the passer and, as a result, the Crusaders got four more chances to reach the end zone. The Crusaders scored on a 19-yard run to give the White Hawks a heartbreaking 20-21 loss.
“We never blame a loss on bad officiating or poor calls, as officials are trying their best and have a very tough and thankless job to do,” said White Hawks head coach Nick David. “At the end of the day, we just didn’t make enough plays throughout the game to win.”
The White Hawks travel to St. Paul Central to face the Minutemen on Wednesday, Oct. 17, to close out the regular season. The Minutemen are currently 4-3 and are coming off a 50-20 win over the Patrick Henry Patriots. Looking ahead to that game and to playoffs, the White Hawks are hoping to be more consistent across offense, defense and special teams.
“Defensively, I thought we played well enough to win [against St. Croix Lutheran], but in football you need all three phases to work in your favor, and that didn’t happen on Friday night,” said coach David. “We need to find more consistency on offense and gain more first downs than we have been getting moving into Wednesday night’s game.”