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Winona blanks South St. Paul to reach the Class 4A semifinals

By Ben Farber, SportsEngine, 11/11/16, 9:45AM CST


The Winhawks recovered four Packers' turnovers en route to the 24-0 win.

Winona senior Alex Franzwa (7) led the Winhawks with two touchdowns and 150 yards rushing in their win over the Packers, securing a trip to US Bank Stadium next week. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

Winona routed South St. Paul 24-0 in the Class 4A state football quarterfinals Friday night at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.

Senior running back Alex Franzwa led the way for Winona, rushing for a career high 150 yards while scoring two touchdowns.  Junior Dan Jonsgaard rushed for a TD for the Winhawks, who advance to face Rocori next Friday at U.S. Bank Stadium in the state semifinals.

Franzwa was determined to extend his playing career.

“Alex is a senior and he wants to keep playing. You could see that in the way he ran the ball tonight,” said Winona head coach John Cassellius after the game.

But while Winona’s offense was impressive, it was their defense that truly led them to victory, holding South St. Paul to just 129 yards of total offense.

 “Our defense played great. We held them to under 130 yards. Our offense moved the ball. Maybe we left a few points on the board but when you’re playing such a high-caliber team, that’s bound to happen,” Cassellius said. 

Winona put up 10 points in the first quarter on a 35-yard rushing TD from Franzwa and a 17-yard field goal from Josh Bade. Meanwhile, the Winhawks defense prevented South St. Paul from recording even a single first down in the opening quarter.

After neither team scored in the game’s middle two quarters, Winona put the contest away by reeling off two quick touchdowns in the fourth.  A 13-yard rushing TD from Franzwa was followed minutes later by a 16-yard scoring run by Jonsgaard, putting the game out of reach.

“Because of our records, people in the metro area might have thought we were the underdogs,” Cassellius said. “But we felt like we’d be ok if we played our game and got after it, which we did.”

South St. Paul came into play unbeaten at 10-0, while Winona entered with a record of 9-1, their only loss a 3-point nail-biter to an elite Mankato West team in the final week of the regular season.

After the game, South St. Paul’s 17 seniors were overcome with emotion. The atmosphere on the field was noticeably heavy.

“I’m incredibly proud of our guys, especially the seniors,” said Packers’ head coach Chad Sexauer. “These 17 guys are a big part of our tradition and without them it wouldn’t have been the kind of season it was. I love ‘em and I hope to see them get married and be fathers and stay connected to their lives.”

South St. Paul struggled to build momentum all game as they were continually shut down by a feisty Winona defense. Junior running back Chase Bentson rushed for 59 yards on 12 attempts. Senior quarterback Ryan Duffy completed just 3 of his 12 passing attempts for a total of 20 yards, though he rushed for 23 more.

South St. Paul also turned the ball over four times, while Winona had no turnovers.

While Winona marches on to the semifinal, South Saint Paul’s season ends abruptly. Still, Coach Sexauer was not going to let his players leave the field feeling defeated.

“I told them football is so much more than the games. It’s about staying in each other’s lives. It’s a message of finishing school and being involved in positive things all the way throughout. It’s about leadership, more than just these four years,” he said. 

Senior quarterback Ryan Duffy (7) carries the ball for South St. Paul. The Packers were undefeated before their quarterfinal loss to Winona. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

First Report

Senior running back Alex Franzwa ran for two touchdowns and 150 yards as Winona smothered South St. Paul 24-0 in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A state football tournament on Friday night at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.

Franzwa bookended the dominant performance for the Winhawks with scores in the first and fourth quarters, while junior quarterback Riley Bosteter chipped in by completing 10 of 20 pass attempts for 103 yards and running for 23 more.

Junior Dan Jonsgaard punctuated the win, running for a 16-yard TD with under 4 minutes remaining.

The Packers' offense managed 109 yards rushing and another 20 passing, but turned the ball over four times. 

Winona advances to the state semifinals next weekend at U.S. Bank Stadium where they will meet either Rocori or Orono. 

Dan Jonsgaard scored Winona's third touchdown, ensuring the Winhawk's victory over South St. Paul. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

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