Owatonna’s Ben Staska was determined to turn his senior season around. The Huskies had lost two of their first three games after being upset by rival Faribault in Week 3. A few days later, Staska, a team captain, found coach…
Owatonna’s Ben Staska was determined to turn his senior season around.
The Huskies had lost two of their first three games after being upset by rival Faribault in Week 3. A few days later, Staska, a team captain, found coach Jeff Williams in the bleachers watching a B-squad game and tried to hash out a plan to get back to the program's winning ways.
“We talked for over an hour about what we needed to do to get things turned around,” Williams said via email. “The success of the team was his only concern.”
Eight consecutive wins later, Staska and the Huskies were battling Elk River in the state semifinals for a Prep Bowl XXXV berth, and like the September afternoon in the Owatonna stands, he was a leader again.
Staska posted 17 tackles and blocked an extra point in the loss, helping the Huskies limit the eventual Class AAAAA state champs to their lowest offensive output of the year (290 rush yards, 4.3 ypc) in 19-7 loss.
Staska’s team-first attitude wasn’t a surprise to Williams, who said the 5-foot-9, 185-pound linebacker wasn’t “the biggest linebacker we have ever had, but he had more ‘want to’ than most.”
“Ben plays bigger than he is,” Williams said. “He is aggressive, pursues with abandon, and truly loves the game of football. We would take 11 of him every year and win a lot of games.”
Staska, ranked No. 257 in NFN's Class of 2017 rankings, led Owatonna in tackles for the second straight season in 2016. He finished with 114 stops, four fumble recoveries and 2.5 sacks and was named All-Big Southeast District.
He’s currently being recruited heavily by WIAC and MIAC schools. He also visited Winona State last spring, but does not have an offer from the Warriors or any other Division II program.
“[I’ve] made visits to St. Thomas, UW-Oshkosh, and am looking to go to Gustavus soon,” said Staska,
Williams said Staska’s instincts were his best attribute as a player, specifically his ability to read keys and flow to the football. He also said although Staska plays with great intensity and emotion on the field, he’s a “thoughtful and personable young man” away from it.
Staska also plays baseball for the Huskies. He said he enjoys hunting and fishing in all four of Minnesota’s seasons, which he hopes to continue in college. Academically, he said he wants to major in criminal justice, or criminology with a pre-law minor.
In other words, continue being a leader.