Wingers belt out a victory tune
RED WING — When the Wingers won their first game in almost three years to open the season, they had to be reminded that singing the school song was part of the program's tradition. Except it had been so long since the last victory that no one knew the words.
With two weeks of preparation, the tune was boldly belted out after Friday's 13-10 victory over Holy Angels snapped Red Wing's 18-game Missota Conference losing streak. The Wingers are now 2-1, including 1-1 in league play.
"We've been practicing up at school," said senior Coleman Kelly, who secured the win with his fourth-down tackle of Stars quarterback Damon Woods with under a minute to play and the ball at Red Wing's 22-yard line. "We knew we were going to stop this thing soon so we've been getting ready (to sing again)."
They had more than a little help.
Assistant coach Sam Westphall, who's a 2002 Red Wing grad, reminded the players of the long-lost tradition after they topped Austin, but the ensuing performance was a mess. Red Wing choir teacher Mikkel Gardner immediately made teaching the words a priority, working the tune into the curriculum after an embarrassing first rendition.
"Mr. Gardner heard that it was so terrible that he started teaching us the words," senior lineman Luke Johnson said.
There wouldn't have been much to sing about without the big-play ability of senior speedster Alex Quiding, which has become a common theme this season. He sparked an otherwise stagnant offense when he turned a simple hitch route into a 67-yard touchdown late in the first quarter to tie the game 7-7.
Quiding then put the Wingers ahead 13-10 when he hauled in a 30-yard strike from quarterback Joel Newman with 5:28 remaining in the third quarter.
He finished with three catches for 110 yards and two touchdowns. The standout defensive back has now scored four of the team's seven touchdowns this season, despite being a part-time offensive player in a run-dominated scheme.
"Just give him the ball and he knows what to do with it," Newman said.
Quiding's long catch in the first half accounted for all but 13 of the team's offensive yards at the break. The Wingers got the ground game going a little better after halftime, but still finished with just 77 yards on 38 carries. Marcus Noesen led the way with 36 yards on 19 carries.
Johnson's return to the lineup was supposed to help bolster that rushing attack. Instead, his booming right foot ended up being a huge weapon as the teams engaged in a battle for field position. He uncorked punts of 47 and 43 yards in his return from a back injury, but a punt that wasn't revealed another important theme.
A snap that sailed well over Johnson's head — the third time that's happened in the last two games — gave the Stars the ball at the 8-yard line early in the second quarter. Red Wing's defense held strong, however, forcing them to turn it over on downs.
After scoring in two plays on their first possession — a 27-yard run by Will Pagel, who finished with 121 yards — Holy Angels struggled to convert within sight of the end zone. It managed just one field goal in eight other possessions inside Red Wing's 40-yard line, a demoralizing stretch that included two missed field goals.
Holy Angels outgained the Wingers 289-225, but remains winless at 0-3.
Red Wing moves out of the Missota Conference cellar for the first time in coach Matt Schultz's tenure heading into next week's game at Northfield, which is tied for the league lead at 2-0.
"This is definitely a huge step," Newman said. "Hopefully everyone in the conference knows now that Austin wasn't a fluke. We're coming to play."
Red Wing 13, Holy Angels 10
Holy Angels 7 3 0 0 — 10
Red Wing 7 0 6 0 — 13
Holy Angels — Will Pagel 27 run (Will Kotovic kick), 9:40
Red Wing — Alex Quiding 67 pass from Joel Newman (Colin McKim kick), 1:46
Holy Angels — Kotovic 26 FG, 9:23
Red Wing — Quiding 30 pass from Newman (kick blocked), 5:28
First downs 7 12
Rushes-yards 38-77 36-154
Passing 148 135
Comp-Att-Int 6-15-0 10-25-0
Fumbles-lost 5-2 2-1
Penalties-yards 6-38 5-39
Holy Angels:Will Pagel 24-121, Damon Woods 12-33. Red Wing: Marcus Noesen 19-36, Mike Stegora 3-31, Coleman Kelly 12-12.
Holy Angels: Woods 10 completions, 25 attempts, 0 touchdowns, 0 interceptions. Red Wing:Newman 6 completions, 15 attempts, 2 touchdowns, 0 interceptions.
Holy Angels:John Schneider 4-64. Red Wing:Alex Quiding 3-110-2, Coleman Kelly 2-37, Mike Stegora 1-11.