Two Tigers will enter S.R. Knutson Field this week, but only one will leave as the Section 2AAAA Champion.
Hutchinson is back in the section title game after missing out on it for the past two seasons. Before that, in 2015 and 2016, the Tigers lost to Marshall in the final. Now Hutch will have another shot at Marshall when it hosts the Tigers vs. Tigers section championship at 7 p.m. Friday in Hutchinson.
To get back in the title game, Hutchinson romped Mankato East this past Saturday for a 60-14 win in the semifinal. It’s hard to find any negatives in such a dominant win. There may have been some plays where an East receiver found himself behind the defense, but those are things that can be corrected.
It was one of those victories that was expected, but the result was better than anticipated.
“I thought it was a good team win,” head coach Andy Rostberg said. “Kids played hard offensively, we ran the ball well and defensively played pretty well with the takeaways.”
The Tigers did anything they wanted on offense, and the Cougars had no answer for it. Hutchinson scored touchdowns of 79, 63, 55, 55 and 60 yards, including an 82-yard run from Tyler Schiller to set up a 5 yard score by Mitchell Piehl.
In all, the Tigers racked up 505 yards of rushing and only threw the ball twice. They also collected five turnovers: three fumbles and two interceptions, including a 99 yard pick-six by Sam Rensch.
“He (the quarterback) overthrew it a little bit,” Rensch said. “I was right there and I was like, ‘This is my chance,’ and I had to return it.”
Even after a dominant victory such as this, the team is remaining focused on its ultimate goal.
“We have our eyes on a section title and state title,” Rostberg said. “This is a stepping stone for us. They’re excited about the win, but in a way it’s just the beginning of the second season.”
Tigers vs. Tigers
Marshall defeated Jordan 31-20 Saturday in its semifinal game, setting up the rematch with Hutchinson.
Marshall has been stifling on defense the whole year. It’s only allowed 100 yards of rushing once this season. Hutchinson runs the ball 90 percent of the time and averages more than 300 yards per game on the ground. The stage is set for Hutchinson’s toughest test this year, but Rostberg doesn’t see much changing in the game plan.
“We’re not going to deviate from what we do,” he said. “That’s going to be the clash, their front seven versus our run game, and we’ll see who comes out on top.”
Rostberg was complimentary of Marshall’s offensive talent as well, singling out quarterback Konnor Aufenthie, top running back Gabe Raini and receiver Bryce Lane.
“They’re a balanced offense,” Rostberg said. “They can pass and they can run it. That’s what you need to be if you want to play this time of year.”
A victory would send Hutchinson to the state tournament for the first time since 2014, when they lost to DeLaSalle in the state semifinals.
Hutchinson 60, Mankato East 14 (Oct. 26)
Hutch ….. 6 30 24 0
Willmar … 0 7 0 7
H—Russel Corrigan 2 run (run failed)
H—Hayden Jensen 79 run (Corrigan pass to Colin Nagel)
H—Corrigan 63 run (run failed)
H—Mitchell Piehl 5 run (Tyler Schiller run)
M—Grant Hermer 10 pass from Jacob Eggert (Muse Abdi kick)
H—Colin Nagel 55 pass from Corrigan (Corrigan run)
H—Schiller 55 run (Piehl run)
H—Piehl 60 run (Piehl run)
H—Sam Rensch 99 interception (Piehl run)
M—Ethan Sundermeyer 35 pass from Jared Grams (Abdi kick)
Rushing — Hutch: 34-503; Mankato East: 31-105
Passing yards — Hutch: 1/2-55; Mankto East: 14/28-186
Total offense — Hutch: 558; Mankato East: 291
Passing: Corrigan 1-2-55-1-0
Rushing: Logan Holtz 3-13, Hayden Jensen 1-79, Ciaran McGraw 2-10, Tyler Schiller 12-192, Mitchell Piehl 2-65, Riley Gill 5-24, Ty Glaser 7-55, Corrigan 2-65
Receiving: Colin Nagel 1-55
Tackles: Holtz 1, Zeke Cosby 3, Devon Verhasselt 3, Billy Marquardt 3, Sam Rensch 2, Hayden Jensen 3, McGraw 2, Ethan Beffert 3, Schiller 2, Riley Anderson 1, Aaron Elliott 3, Dawson McCarthy 4, Piehl 1, Gill 2, Alex Nelson 5, Glaser 1, Tristan Hoppe 8, Cody Kurth 5, Connor Drahos 1, Jordan Titus 1
Sacks: Beffert 1, Titus 1
Interception: Rensch 1, Jensen 1