Osseo defense steals spotlight in first Huskies loss

Andover’s offense was frustrated by Osseo’s pass rush that disrupted the rhythm of one of the top offenses through the first four weeks of the football season in Osseo’s 20-7 victory at the Orioles home field Sept. 27.

The Huskies’ (4-1) first loss of the season was billed as a match-up of two of the top offenses, but it was defense that proved to be the difference in the Northwest Suburban Conference contest.

“Yeah, the guys were disappointed because it was such a big game between two ranked teams,” Andover coach Rich Wilkie said. “But offensively we didn’t play very well and it was part us and part them.”

Andover quarterback Connor Wilkie couldn't slow Osseo's fast and aggressive defensive pressure in the Huskies first loss of the season. Photo by Jason Olson

Andover quarterback Connor Wilkie couldn’t slow Osseo’s fast and aggressive defensive pressure in the Huskies first loss of the season. He completed 15-of-31 passes for 134 yards and two interceptions. Photo by Jason Olson

While the Huskies defense and special teams turned the ball back to the offense with decent field position, the offense couldn’t get much going, aside from a stalled drive deep in Osseo territory and a lone third quarter score.

Of Andover’s seven offensive possessions of the first half, five began on the Orioles side of the 50-yard line but none resulted in points on the scoreboard for the visitors.

Wilkie felt the defense played its best game of the season against the best offense it has faced. “We didn’t put a complete game together against a good team,” he said. “They’re really good, with athleticism and speed we hadn’t seen yet.”

Speed on both sides of the ball forced Andover to make in-game adjustments. “It took us a while to adjust to, especially on offense,” Wilkie said. “Their defensive line was fast and the secondary covered well and our offensive line struggled with that and got us out of rhythm. They could gamble and did it.”

Huskies running back Derek McLaughlin scored the only touchdown on a three-yard run with 3:45 left in the third quarter to cut Osseo’s lead in half, 14-7. McLaughlin finished the game with 46 yards on 20 carries and now has 534 yards and nine touchdowns this season.

Andover quarterback Connor Wilkie was held to 134 yards passing on 15-of-31 completions and two interceptions without a touchdown.

Instead of focusing the passes on one receiver, he spread the load evenly. Jake McNallan leading with five catches, Chris Larson had four catches and Justin Freyholtz had three catches.

Osseo quarterback Matt Miedtke completed 10-of-20 passes for 213 yards with one touchdown pass.

The Orioles quarterback opened the scoring on a one-yard dive to finish a 10-play drive in the opening quarter.

The 7-0 score stood until midway through the third quarter when Miedtke found receiver Connor Kittleson on a 72-yard catch-and-run to make it 14-0.

After McLaughlin’s score, Osseo’s Jaimen Hampton finished off a 14-play drive with a three-yard touchdown run to make it 20-7.

Wilkie said the Andover defense matches up better against the pro-style offense like the Orioles instead of a run-heavy attack like Elk River or Anoka.

Next up is a meeting against Totino-Grace, the other unbeaten team in the NWSC’s West Division. Osseo and Totino-Grace sport 4-1 records overall, but the Eagles have more of an impact on section seeding being a Class 5A program like the Huskies.

“We’re mostly focused on section seeding and the loss doesn’t hurt us as much,” Wilkie said. “We’re still in control for the [top] seed. This week is more important because if we win we are almost assured a top spot for the playoffs.

Jason Olson is at
jason.olson@ecm-inc.com

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