Cover image from mnhshp.com Everyone who follows Minnesota high school football knows the name, Jason Williamson. He has been the cornerstone of the Owatonna Huskies’ offense for the last number of years and is one of the main reasons…
Cover image from mnhshp.com
Everyone who follows Minnesota high school football knows the name, Jason Williamson. He has been the cornerstone of the Owatonna Huskies’ offense for the last number of years and is one of the main reasons they will be attempting to defend their Class AAAAA title this weekend. While Williamson was absurdly good in the Huskies’ semi-final victory over Elk River, the rest of the team isn’t half bad either.
The obvious place to start when talking about Owatonna is – of course – their all-world running back. Williamson is the complete package. He has good speed to the to the corner and good luck running him down from behind when he gets into the open field. With a tall, athletic build, Williamson runs somewhat upright. That doesn’t seem to matter as he still has the power to break the tackles of much bigger defenders. The vertical style of running I believe helps his vision and helps him make quick cuts because the senior never seems to be off balance. He seems to glide when he runs – almost effortless.
A running back – even one as impressive as Williamson – is only as good as his offensive line. The Huskies do not lack in that department. No back is going to put up the numbers Williamson has without the big guys up front. I am sure they have done it all year, but this was the first time I was able to watch them in person. The Owatonna O-line controlled the Elks’ front seven all game.
Joe Edel and Isaiah Noeldner opened a hole large enough for me to get at least five yards on. Edel has good feet and can pull on trap plays. His trap block sprung Solomon Havelka – the Huskies’ quarterback – for a touchdown. Although Edel and Noeldner stood out to me, all five blockers deserve recognition – not only for the game last weekend – but for a historic season. Carter DeBus, Ethan Rothman, and Zach Wiese were physical and dictated to the Elks’ defense all game.
The running game was also greatly aided by the play of Isaac Oppegard. His lead blocks erased linebackers and allowed Williamson to make his initial cut off his block to get to the second level.
Havelka did a nice job running the option. With the amount of attention Williamson got, Havelka was going to have to make quick decisions with the ball and be willing to take a hit. He passed both tests and showed good feet in the open field.
The running game gets all the headlines, but Saturday belonged to the Huskies’ defense. Elk River’s offense has been running over nearly everyone in their sights the last three seasons – everyone that is but Owatonna.
The Elks’ offense relies on an effective interior running game and a quick inside trapping game. If they can get that working, it allows the offense to do all the faking and deception they do in the backfield work. The Huskies’ defensive line did not let that happen.
Defensive lineman Rothman combined with Carson DeKam with a tackle for loss. Rothman was a handful for the Elk River offensive line all night. Along with Isaac Gefre, Rothman stuffed a third and short. The junior then planted a runner into the ground – shoulders first – with one of the best hits of the game. Later, Rothman stripped the ball from an Elk River runner allowing Zander Johnson to come up with the fumble recovery.
Chris Lewis was playing the nose tackle position most of the game and was also instrumental in the defensive game plan. He made a couple of solid, solo tackles on the inside. Then he combined with DeKam to stop an Elks’ runner for a short gain.
Nick Staska would not be outdone by his teammates. He shut down a handful of off-tackle runs to his side of the field. Joseph Stansky made a solid tackle near the line of scrimmage followed by a second tackle for little or no gain. The other key role the defensive line played was keeping the linebackers and defensive backs clean to make plays.
Jake Miller held the edge nicely and made a tackle for loss. They tried his side of the formation again and stuffed the back for a short gain.
Johnson not only had a fumble recovery, but he also showed his athletic ability. First he ran down a play from the backside. Then by getting in the backfield and stripping the ball from the quarterback.
Gefre held down his side of the field and collected tackles on outside the hash marks. DeKam stepped up and made a tackle behind the line of scrimmage.
Elk River didn’t throw much, but when they did, Ben Zappa was all over his receiver. He didn’t give the quarterback room to make a completion. He also came up strong in the running game – filling a hole and making a tackle for a short gain.
The defense will be tested against the run again in the Prep Bowl when they take on St. Thomas Academy and their punishing ground game.