Photo by Eric Johnson - Austin Daily Herald
It’s not often in high school football that a kicker has a large impact on the outcome of a game, but Owatonna’s Carter McCauley was instrumental in his team’s 27-7 victory over St. Michael-Albertville in a Class 5A semifinal at the Metrodome.
McCauley and his strong right leg booted field goals from 38 & 42 yards, and also added six touchbacks for the top-ranked Huskies, who moved to 12-0 with the win. The touchbacks forced St. Michael-Albertville to drive 80 yards on all but three of their drives, a tough thing to do against the Owatonna defense.
“I broke my foot on the first kick in last year’s semifinal against St. Thomas Academy, and I was really excited to get back here and kick,” said McCauley. “It’s a completely different element and atmosphere to kick in the Dome…all our guys did a great job with the snap, hold and blocking on the field goals and I converted.”
The Huskies’ Sam Fenske was the other standout for the victors, filling the stat sheet on both sides of the ball. The 5’10” receiver had a huge first half, scoring on a 30-yard TD reception from Ian Langeberg to open the scoring.
“The play was a basic seam route and our quarterback made the throw,” remarked Fenske.
Then with the Knights driving late in the second quarter to even the game at 14, the senior made the biggest play of the afternoon when he stripped the Knights’ Chris Kartes at the Owatonna 3-yard line to prevent the game-tying score. For the game, he notched two PBU’s & one tackle to go along with the forced fumble and recovery.
“I’m kind of the last line of defense and when the runner gets that close to the goal line, there’s no point in trying to tackle him on his way to score,” said Fenske, who is one of a host of seniors for Owatonna and coach Jeff Williams. “I saw that he was stumbling and went for the ball, ripped it out and pounced on it.”
The Knights running attack, which entered the contest averaging 206.6 yards a game, was limited to only 49 yards on 28 attempts. Linemen Andrew Stelter, Andrew Beede, and Jesse Starks combined for two sacks and five tackles-for-loss for Owatonna.
STMA’s only score came via a 23-yard pass from Jackson Greenwald to Matt Kisch in the second quarter. Dallas Freeman was the most effective Knight against the tough defense, as he amassed 96 total yards (70 rec, 26 rush) in defeat.
The Huskies, last season’s runner-up in Class 5A, advance to play the winner of Saturday’s other semifinal between Brainerd and Chaska.