Staska, Raichle Share Owatonna Football Most Valuable Player Award
It hasn't happened often, according to Owatonna football coach Jeff Williams, but the team vote for Most Valuable Player ended in a tie between Ben Staska and Alex Raichle.
Staska, a senior linebacker, led the team in defensive points. He recovered four fumbles, forced one, deflected three passes and had two-and-a-half sacks. Staska had a team-high 16.5 tackles in Owatonna's semifinal loss to Elk River at US Bank Stadium. He also earned the Defensive Player of the Year award.
Junior Raichle played both sides of the ball and returned kicks. He caught 21 passes for 449 yards and nine touchdowns, none bigger than the game winner against Apple Valley in the state quarterfinals at Lakeville North High School. He was fourth in defensive points with four interceptions, four pass defenses and one blocked kick. Raichle returned a punt for a touchdown against Rochester Century. His three touchdown reception game against Austin during homecoming tied a school record.
Senior Nathan Deason won the Lineman of the Year Award for his work on the offensive line that helped sophomore Jason Williamson win the Offensive Player of the Year with his 1,662 yards gained, second most for a single season in school history. He also set school records for carries in a game with 47 at New Prague and carries in a season with 297. Junior kicker Josh Nelson was named the Special Teams Player of the Year with his consistent ability to put kickoffs into the end zone.
The Champion of the Year is Jacob Gauthier for his sportsmanship and teamwork in helping to transition to Abe Havelka becoming the starting quarterback. Havelka had the fifth-highest single-season passing yardage total with 1,314 yards. He had 16 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Players earning scholar athlete awards include Gauthier, Jaden Dowhaniuk, Brett Solie, Jay Sullivan, Ethen DeKam, Aidan Buryska and Deason.
All-Big Southeast District awards went to Staska, Deason, Goy Tut, Solie, Raichle, Noah Budach and Williamson. Honorable mention went to Josh Burns, Dowhaniuk, Havelka, Kadyn Mulert, Mitch Wiese and Zach Mensink.
Budach had 44 receptions this season, the fifth-best total for a single season. His 66 career catches rank third in OHS history. Wiese tied a school record with two fumble recoveries in the same game. It came against Northfield.
The captains for 2017 will be Havelka, Wiese, Raichle and Mensink.
The Huskies went 9-3 overall, 5-0 in the Red Division of the Big Southeast District. Their state tournament trip was the third in the past five years and the sixth overall. Owatonna's b-squad and ninth-grade teams both were 8-0.
Williams recognized Doug Maine on his retirement from coaching after 17 years with Owatonna and 31 years total. Williams also acknowledged coach Marc Achterkirch, who assisted with the winning south team in Saturday's high school all-star game. Gary Walter created a fantastic highlight video that the players, parents and fans enjoyed. The Huskies held their banquet Sunday at the Eagles Club.