Football hosts annual spring game


Natalie Tyler

First year Jarod Schyvinch blocks a defense player, leaving fellow first-year Corrie King open to catch the ball during an in-team scrimmage on Saturday, April 21 at Altra Federal Credit Union Stadium.

Mitchell Breuer, Editor-In-Chief

For the first time since the fall, the Winona State University football team returned to the field for their annual spring game.

The afternoon presented a unique opportunity for fans to get their first look at the new team that will be without this past year’s seniors like defensive back Andrew Spencer and quarterback Darren Beenken, while also getting a chance to look at the future, as the team’s latest recruits were presented at halftime.

The game itself was different as well, with the unit dividing into two teams competing against one and another, the offense wearing purple, and the defense in white.

Though the matchup was between those two, quarterbacks and special team players were distinguished with black uniforms.

The scrimmage also had different scoring rules than a usual game. In addition to touchdowns, extra points, and field goals, the offense was rewarded a point for first downs, and the defense would get two points for holding them on third down (six, if they went for it on fourth), six for forcing turnovers, two for stop two-point conversion attempts, three for blocked field goals, and one if the offense missed the extra point.

Each side was also deducted two points for personal fouls and five for unsportsmanlike conduct.

On their first drive of the day, the offense put up points after a 25-yard run by junior Jake Balliu, who would earn them a point for the first down, and a touchdown pass from sophomore Owen Burke to senior tight end Greg Rooney extended their lead to 14-0.

Burke, who is competing for the vacant starting quarterback, was the first at the position to score a touchdown.

“Overall I felt pretty good about my performance,” Burke said. “I felt comfortable out there and had a lot of fun seeing all the different parts of the offense come together as a unit. I felt the offensiveness unit made some great plays and had some really good drives.”

Despite going down by 22 early, the defense would respond in quick order, forcing two turnovers which resulted in 12 points for them. The first of which came after a pass by junior quarterback John Rumpza was tipped by sophomore Cole Monckton and intercepted by junior Justin Gross. The defense’s first fumble recovery came next, after they were able to come up with the ball after a mishandled snap by first-year Dawson Davis. In the second half, Monckton would continue to contribute on defense blocking field goal attempts by both junior Nathaniel Genrich and senior Michael Russell.

“It felt great to be back out on the field again in front of a crowd. You could feel the energy in the stadium right when you walked in and, I think that helped players get into the right mindset for our scrimmage,” Monckton said. “Everybody was excited and playing hard. I thought our offense and defense were competing with a lot of energy and that is going to help make our team better.”

In the end, the offense could not get the same momentum going that they had in the first half, which allowed the defense to get several opportunities and points, and eventually the win with a final score of 41-28.

While there had to be a winner and a loser, the day proved to be a successful one for the team as they continue to adjust to the new roster.

“It’s always nice to get out there in the spring. It’s almost like having a makeshift look at what the fall is going to be like, so those spring practices are really important and we take all 15 of them seriously,” Rumpza said. “It’s also a nice time to get some younger guys some experiences. This especially applied this year for us, and a lot of young guys got some good work, and those guys are going to have a better chance to see the field come fall.”

The Warriors will officially kick off their season in the fall, they will travel to Wayne, Nebraska to play their first game of the season against Wayne State College on Thursday, August 30.