It was a turnover plagued game, but with turnovers come big plays. The big plays ultimately led to a Winona 24-14 victory over Simley. During the pressure of the state tournament, five athletes were not affected by the pressure and turned in impressive individual performances.
Garit Wollan – Winona defensive line
Especially in the first half, Wollan wreaked havoc on the Spartans’ offensive line. He made it difficult for Simley to get any consistency running the ball between the tackles. When Simley first got into the red-zone, Wollan sliced into the backfield and made a tackle for a two-yard loss. Later he pressured the quarterback into a quick, incomplete throw. In a turnover plagued game, he helped that total with a late interception on a screen pass late in the game.
Jackson Nibbelink – Winona quarterback
Nibbelink threw a strong ball on an out pattern. He showed he could throw on the run with a tight throw on the move to receiver Spencer Wright for a first down on a first and 25. An able runner, Nibbelink, made a physical run for a first down. He later ran for a 12-yard touchdown. He threw a perfect pass on a 69-yard touchdown on a deep post pattern. Backed up in their own end, he gave his team some room when he got around the corner to pick up first down and give the offense some room. On a drive that running back Trevor Pomeroy picked up most of the yardage, Nibbelink scored a four-yard touchdown off a nice fake to Pomeroy.
Sam Kanne – Winona LB/WR
Offensively, he made a catch on the sidelines, and then later in the game, he ran a crossing route and made a sliding catch. On the defensive side of the ball is where he made his most significant impact. On a third and short, he stepped up and made a tackle in the hole, stopping Simley short of the first down. Later he dropped into his zone and knocked down a pass over the middle. He helped shut down the inside running game – especially showing his skills with a physical hit that could be heard in the stands that resulted in a short gain.
Spencer Wright – Winona WR/DB
Wright made three huge plays that significantly shaped the outcome of the game. He ran a deep post pattern and caught a 69-yard touchdown pass. He grabbed another pass earlier in the game for thirty-three yards. His offensive stat line – two catches, 102 yards, and one touchdown. On the defensive side of the ball, he undercut a deep out route for an interception; then, he recovered a fumble, stopping yet another Spartans’ drive.
Aaron Witt – Winona DL/OL
Largely taken out of the play by Simley either running away from him or double-teaming him, Witt’s major contribution in the first half was allowing his teammates to shine. In the second half, the Wisconsin commit was able to make a more noticeable impact on the game. First, he put pressure on the quarterback from the backside. It looked like he was shot out of a cannon on the play and caused a scramble for one yard. Later he dropped the running back for a two-yard loss. Late in the game, he again used his speed, got around the corner, and recorded a sack.
Hope Adebayo – RB Simley
Although they lost the game, Adebayo was maybe the most dynamic offensive player on the field. He scored the game’s first touchdown as he cut across the field on a crossing route. The throw was low, but he caught the pass for a touchdown. He had two twenty-yard runs; the second included a pair of quick cuts that allowed him to pick up the first down. Late in the game, on a running play, he started to the right and was hit in the backfield. Adebayo spun away and came all the way across the field. He got down the sidelines and made a couple of guys miss on the boundary, staying in bounds to pick up 33 yards. On defense, he helped string out a sweep for a short gain. He also returned kickoffs and used his speed to get one return out to mid-field.