Red Wing’s football season came to a close Tuesday night with a 26-6 loss to Faribault in a Section 1AAAA postseason matchup. In a six-team section with two teams unable to play, it was decided that each team would play one postseason game — a la bowl game style.
With Kasson-Mantorville and Byron battling for the section title, Red Wing and Faribault were left to fight for third place. Faribault came into the game riding a four-game win streak — their last loss coming back on Oct. 23. Red Wing on the other hand was looking to put an end to a 24-game losing streak.
Although the season ended with another loss for the Wingers, the team is still trending in a positive direction as it closed the year with one of its best performances. The year in general was a leap forward compared to the struggles from one year ago. For example, Red Wing improved from a minus-326 point differential last year to a minus-215 this season. Although the Wingers played in two fewer games this fall, their defense surrendered 123 fewer points while the offense scored 12 less points.
“Everything we’ve been trying to do for at least two or three years started to click tonight,” Red Wing head football coach Nate Freier said. “We just have to learn how to finish. It’s something that’s been a work in progress for the past couple of years and when we look back on it, we’ll probably see this game as the one that probably got away.”
An early first-quarter fumble by Faribault inside their own 20-yard line is a good testament to Freier’s argument. The Wingers took the ball over at Faribault’s 16-yard line but turned the ball over on downs after losing two yards in four plays. Instead of getting a lead in the first quarter, Red Wing gave the ball back to the Falcons, which proceeded to flip the field position on their next drive and then score a touchdown after a Kaleb Hove fumble.
On the next Red Wing possession, the Wingers again turned the ball over on downs after marching down to the Faribault 23-yard line. Five plays later, the Falcons scored on a 46-yard touchdown pass to put them up 14-0 going into halftime.
Red Wing had a crucial fourth-down stop after Faribault had a first-and-goal from the 4-yard line but came up empty-handed. After the turnover on downs, Red Wing couldn’t get out of their own end of the field which set up a short field for Faribault to work with. Two plays later, the Falcons scored on another pass play of more than 40 yards to put Faribault up 20-0 midway through the third quarter.
Red Wing went 26 yards in nine plays in their next possession, but was forced to punt when faced with a fourth-and-10. Faribault took over at their own 23-yard line but fumbled on their first play, setting Red Wing up to score their first touchdown four plays later. Antonio Finley scored on a 6-yard run but Victor Fernandez missed the point after so the Wingers trailed 20-6 with less than one minute in the third quarter remaining.
In their next possession, for the third time Faribault completed a 40-plus yard pass to set up a 5-yard touchdown run by Alex Gardner to extend the Falcons lead 26-6. Then, for the fourth time of the game, Red Wing found itself knocking on the door in Faribault territory but again came up empty-handed. The Wingers failed to convert a fourth-and-2 from the 11-yard line and Faribault ran out the remainder of the clock.
“Everything we got tonight we worked super hard for. We didn’t have any long plays,” Freier said. “That’s one of the differences in the game — they had more explosive plays.”
Statistics and game notes
As a team, Red Wing compiled more than 200 yards of offense for the first time this season. The Wingers had 209 yards compared to Faribault’s 382. Cooper Chandler went 13-of-22 for 118 yards passing with one interception. Antonio Finley led the ground attack with 43 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries, while Kaleb Hove was right behind with 40 yards on 11 carries.
Wyatt Gonsior was the leading receiver with 42 yards on five catches. Mitch Seeley caught four balls for 37 yards, Tyler Rodgers had two catches for 29 yards, and Jonah Reps caught two passes for 10 yards.
Red Wing finishes its season with an 0-7 record.