The first order of business for Owatonna football coach Jeff Williams is to recognize the seniors who led the Huskies to an appearance in the state semifinals.

After the December 4 banquet, he can begin game planning for another trip to US Bank Stadium with a team that will return many players at key positions. The Huskies lost 19-7 to top-ranked Elk River in a defensive battle in Friday's semifinals. On Saturday's coach show, Williams said the new facility is a beautiful stadium, but added that he was partial to the Metrodome after Owatonna's many experiences there.

Williams acknowledged how hard this senior group worked in the off season and how the team rallied from a 1-2 start to reach the state semifinals. He wants to see this type of success be an expectation for the program.

Owatonna started seniors at most spots on the offensive line. That included Josh Burns, Darik Elstad and Nathan Deason. Senior Griffin Thorn was the primary fullback. The Huskies used juniors at most of the other offensive spots. Sophomore running back Jason Williamson was named the Big Southeast, Red Division, Offensive Player of the Year. Quarterback Abe Havelka and most of the receivers are juniors.

On defense, the Huskies used a mix of seniors and juniors at each level. Seniors Goy Tut and Chandler Buckhalter started in the defensive front. Seniors Ben Staska and Ethan Dekam were regular linebackers. Seniors Jaden Dowhaniuk and Brett Solie started in the secondary. That leaves five junior starters returning on defense.

Other seniors on the roster included Vince Spurgeon, Christian Scheffert, Aidan Ebner, Jacob Gauthier, Jacob Menden, Jay Sullivan, Jadyn Gunderson, Carter Broton, Aidan Buryska, Bryce Goodwin, Cole Bergeman, RJ Kniefel, Justin Robb, Khor Wal, Cam Elmore and Ryan Bos. The Huskies went 9-3 and earned their sixth state tournament trip.