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Football: Ninth-ranked Owatonna blanks Tigers, 21-0

Farmington managed just 71 total yards against a suffocating Owatonna defense last Tuesday night as the top-seeded Huskies advanced to the second round of the Section 1AAAAA tournament with a 21-0 shutout in Owatonna.

"They had a tough defense. They had a good defensive front four that put a lot of pressure on Darren (Beenken)," coach Mark Froehling said. "It was difficult to both run and pass and their defensive backs were tough, as well. They had some good, athletic kids that could run well with our wide receivers and made made it difficult for us to get open. It was a challenge for our offense to move the ball."

Beenken, who passes for over 1,000 yards during the regular season, suffered a neck injury on a play in the second quarter. He left after completing 3 of 9 passes for 32 yards and backup Tyler VanWinkle was just 1 of 7 for four yards in the second half. The combination of Owatonna's solid defense and VanWinkle's inexperience made overcoming a 14-0 halftime deficit a daunting task.

"He's not as experienced, so we wanted to be able to run the ball better in the second half and it was a little bit better. We still spread them out and had him throw the ball some, but when you're new at doing that it's hard to get the ball out of your hands fast enough," Froehling said. "Their pass rush bogged things down and made it tough for everybody."

Beenken also led the Tigers on the ground, rushing for 38 yards in the first half. Tailback Athen Ashton was held to six yards on 13 carries.

Owatonna (9-1) got all the points it would need in the first quarter when Luke Wanous capped a 31-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run. A 14-play touchdown drive made it 14-0 with 4:04 left in the second quarter.

The Huskies threw for just 63 yards, 42 of which came on a touchdown pass that capped the scoring in the third quarter. The home team did most of its damage on the ground, racking up over 200 rushing yards.

It was a victory of sorts for the Farmington defense, which held a team averaging over 38 point a game in check while spending most of the game on the field. Senior linebacker Drew Hegseth led the team with 15 tackles, senior Blake Weinand had 11, Kevin Clifton added 11 and Alex Chadwick chipped in eight.

"I thought our defense played really well. They only gave up 200-something yards. For the amount of possessions they had, they had a lot of stops," Froehling said. "They forced enough punts to give our offense some chances. They held them down pretty well."

With the loss, Farmington ended the season with a record of 3-6. In three of those losses - Rochester Mayo, Red Wing and New Prague - the Tigers were within a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

"After the game I told our seniors they were part of successful season. They are part of getting us back on track to where we strive to be," said Froehling, who will lose 16 seniors from this year's roster. "They have been great leaders, great kids to coach. They had lots of great successes and great competitions, even the games that weren't wins were competitive, for the most part. They battled to the end. I enjoyed coaching them and working with them."