Huskies Power Their Way to State Football Championship
Owatonna won its second Prep Bowl title with a dominating 63-26 victory over defending champ Elk River Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium. Junior running back Jason Williamson tied a Prep Bowl record with six touchdowns and senior Tucker Alstead returned a fumble 29 yards for a score. Seniors Abe Havelka and Noah Budach added scoring runs as the Huskies avenged a loss to Elk River from the 2016 state semifinals.
The Huskies outscored the Elks 42-14 over the middle to quarters and put Prep Bowl XXXVI into running time in the fourth quarter. Owatonna scored touchdowns eight seconds apart early in the third quarter. Leading 28-14 heading into the halftime locker room, OHS took the opening kickoff of the second half 60 yards in just three plays, capped by Williamson's fourth touchdown of the game with 11:04 left in the third. Eight seconds later senior Parker Westphal created a turnover with a big hit and Alstead grabbed the ball and raced into the end zone for a 42-14 advantage.
Williamson scored on a 33 run to end Owatonna's first drive of the game. He added a 67-yard kickoff return for a score after Elk River had rallied for a 14-7 lead. He put the Huskies up for good with a nine-yard run midway through the second. Williamson had another nine-yard score late in the third and a five-yard TD early in the fourth. He ended the night with 213 yards rushing on 23 carries thanks to excellent play from the offensive line, great downfield blocking from the receivers and his ability to cut on a dime on the U.S. Bank Stadium turf.
The offensive line of seniors Terrell Conner, Andy Jensen, Dylan Meier, Brody Veach and sophomore Zach Wiese also protected Havelka enough to allow him to complete 11 of his 15 passes for 138 yards. The Huskies out gained the Elks by just a 441-406 yard margin according to the Minnesota State High School League stats, but forced two fumbles and made the Elks punt four times. Elk River also lost the ball on downs once. The Elks, who ran for 700 yards in their semifinal victory over Apple Valley, put together a 333-yard night, led by Adam Nelson's 172 yards on 17 carries.
In 12 possessions, Owatonna scored nine touchdowns, punted twice and had the ball to end the first half. Elk River had the time of possession advantage 27:50-to-20:10.
Senior Cole Rocha led the Huskies in tackles with 15 and forced a fumble. Senior Logan Starkson, playing his first game of the season on the defensive line, was second with 12, including a tackle-for-a-loss. Alstead had nine tackles and sophomore Isaac Gefre, an injury fill-in at linebacker, had seven tackles.
Owatonna's other championship came in 2013, in the final high school game in the Metrodome. Saturday marked Owatonna's fifth Prep Bowl appearance, with runner-up finishes in 1982, 1998 and 2012. The title was Owatonna's 15th overall team state championship.