By Becca Neuger
Ending a 30-year drought of section playoff wins, the Mound Westonka High School football team defeated the Richfield Spartans Tuesday night by a score of 47-19. The team’s only other playoff victory came in the fall of 1987, when Mound Westonka defeated Chaska 12-8.
White Hawks head coach Nick David said that his team approached the Oct. 24 home playoff game just like it had every other game this season. “Because of [the Spartans’] high-powered passing offense, we knew we would have to be sound in our coverages and mix things up throughout the night to keep them off balance,” said David. “Working on our pass defense and changing our coverages was a big focus as we prepared for Richfield.”
In 2015, the White Hawks lost to the Spartans in overtime in their first section playoff game. This time, the home team felt well-prepared and confident that they could come out on top. “I think offensively we are just so much more dynamic than we were two years ago from a pass/run game standpoint,” said David. “We were able to keep Richfield’s defense on their heels all night.”
The White Hawks took an early lead when junior quarterback Brandon Hokkanen found junior wide receiver Sam Dufault for a 60-yard touchdown completion. The extra point by senior kicker Jonathan Neve on a windy night put the White Hawks up 7-0 at the end of the first quarter.
An interception by Richfield in the second quarter led to a touchdown and a tie game, but the 7-7 score didn’t last for long. White Hawks senior wide receiver Evan Dahl returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. A failed two-point conversion by the White Hawks brought the score to 13-7.
Still in the second quarter, junior running back Kris Kurtz expanded the White Hawks’ lead to 20-7 with a 59-yard run into the end zone. The Spartans answered with a 69-yard pass-and-run touchdown but missed the extra point.
White Hawks senior running back Bobby Sweet ended the scoring in the second quarter with a 21-yard rushing touchdown, making the score 27-13 at the half. With that run, Sweet broke the single-season rushing record of 1,056 yards set by Jeremiah Norton in 1992. Sweet currently has 1,185 rushing yards on the season.
The White Hawks capitalized on a Spartan fumble to start the third quarter with a touchdown pass from Hokkanen to Dahl. Richfield scored its final touchdown of the evening on a 50-yard rush. An unsuccessful extra point brought the score to 34-19.
Dufault had an exciting pick-6 to extend the White Hawks’ lead to 41-19 at the end of the third quarter. That play is up for Kare 11 Hot Highlight of the Week, which could earn the school a $1,000 check from TruStone Financial Federal Credit Union. Vote online until 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28.
In the fourth quarter, the White Hawks once again capitalized on a Spartan turnover. Senior Andrew Fish had a nice interception to get the ball back, and Sweet rushed it in for a touchdown. The final score was 47-19.
“I was really happy to see us force five takeaways, two of which really took some momentum away from Richfield,” said David. “If you are going to win in the playoffs, you not only have to protect the ball, but you have to force turnovers as well, and we were very pleased with the effort in that area.”
David said that his team needs to focus on tackling going into their next game against Holy Angels. “They are a very physical team that has several players who are very dangerous with the ball in space,” said David. “We will need to make sure that we rally to the ball on defense to ensure no big plays.”
The White Hawks play at Holy Angels at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 28.
Photos by Dennis Hoogeveen
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