Both Owatonna and Elk River have advanced to the state football semifinals by running the ball. The Elks use deception and each play it's top secret who has the ball. For the Huskies, the plan is more of an open book. Hand the ball to #22 Jason Williamson, make a couple of blocks at the line and watch him race through the linebackers and secondary.

The teams meet Friday, November 16 at US Bank Stadium at 2 pm with the coverage on KRFO AM 1390 and the KRFO app. For advance sale tickets go to the Minnesota State High School League website. (Click here for the ticket ordering site.) The winner punches their ticket back to The Bank for the Prep Bowl finals at 4 pm on Saturday, November 24.

Owatonna's defensive plan against the Elks has worked well in each of the last two years. In 2016 OHS held Elk River to 19 points, but lost 19-7. In last year's Prep Bowl the Huskies prevailed 63-26. A key to the defense is stay responsible to your man. Defensive coordinator Marc Achterkirch says if one player misses his assignment, the Elks' back is off to the races.

Elk River has three backs with 800+ yards including their all-time leading rusher Adam Nelson with 1,798 yards this season and 18 touchdowns. Carter Otto has 1,147 yards and 17 touchdowns, while Kevin Egbujor has added 822 yards and 10 scores. Achterkirch says the quarterback will tote the ball too.

OHS nose guard Chris Lewis says he's not worried where the ball is, just whether his guy has it. Owatonna has held opponents to under 100 yards rushing per game. Elk River simply does not throw the ball. On the season, the team is 7-for-14 for 201 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. That's the season total, not the average per game.

Williamson has 2,625 yards and 39 rushing touchdowns this season. In three playoff games he has about 1,225 yards and 19 touchdowns. His career total is 6,625, which is believed to be the second highest total in state history. The record is about 7,300 yards by Tyler Evans of McLeod West.

The Huskies have a significant advantage is the takeaway-giveaway stat. Owatonna has forced 31 turnovers, led by Isaac Oppegard's single-season, school-record eight interceptions. OHS has only turned the ball over 12 times for a +19 on the season. Elk River has 12 turnovers and just ten takeaways for a -2 overall number.

While Elk River has gained over 451 yards per game, with more than 400 of that on the ground, they also give up nearly 400 yards of offense per game. Teams have been able to run and pass against the Elks who are allowing over 30 points per game.

OHS is only allowing about 200 yards and 15 points per game.


Rich Will/Townsquare Media

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