Goodhue's state title defense got off to a rough start this fall with two straight lopsided defeats. That could all be a distant memory after Friday's 23-12 victory over Kenyon-Wanamingo.
Especially if Jared Dicke has anything to say about it.
The sophomore running back saw limited time in the backfield in each of the first two games, but was the feature back against the Knights. He responded with 117 yards and two touchdowns, showcasing an impressive combination of power, wiggle and speed.
"He's come along," Goodhue coach Clair Austin said of his latest find.
"He has breakaway speed and he's elusive. And he's not afraid to lower his shoulder when he has to."
The 165-pounder showed his power on his 1-yard scoring run to open the scoring in the first quarter. He followed that plunge with a 29-yard scamper through the heart of K-W's defense in the second quarter.
Bryce Dankers added a 2-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter to send the Wildcats to halftime with a 23-6 advantage.
However, the scoring plays were deceptive as the Knights had success defending Goodhue's running game most of the first half. The Wildcats turned to their passing game to open things up, which put Blayne Erie and Cameron Peterson in the spotlight.
The potent combo connected four times for 147 yards, including twice in third-and-long situations. Erie finished just 5-for-17, but was undone for the second straight week by a number of dropped passes.
"He's been getting better week in and week out," Austin said of his junior signal caller.
The reinvigorated Wildcat offense had the Knights on their heels much of the night, but K-W wasn't about to go quietly. Not when they have a weapon like junior Andrew Johnson at their disposal, anyway.
The speedy slot back got behind the Wildcat secondary for an 81-yard touchdown in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 15-6. He was nearly off to the races again in the final seconds of the half after an interception, but a shoestring tackle dashed those hopes near midfield.
Johnson struck again for the only touchdown in the second half, hauling in a 96-yard strike from junior Cole Tousignant to pull the Knights within 23-12.
Johnson rushed three times for 31 yards and caught two passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns.
"We gave up two big pass plays or we would have held them under 100 total yards," Austin said. "Andrew Johnson, I didn't realize he was that fast."
Tousignant finished 4-for-13 for 190 yards.
The loss knocks K-W to 1-2 overall and 0-2 in Hiawatha Valley League action heading into next week's game at home against Hayfield.
Goodhue improves to 1-2 and 1-1 as it prepares to travel to Pine Island. In a wide-open HVL race, the win could be the start of big things the rest of the way.
"Those first two games were tough," Austin said. "The kids knew we needed this one. It wasn't always pretty, but we'll take it. Now we have to shore some things up for Pine Island next week."