Warrior football 2018 season in review

Christopher Edwards, Sports Reporter

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For the 14th time of Tom Sawyer’s 23-year tenure at Winona State University, the football team has won two-thirds of their games for the season. Though they faced tough obstacles this season, which included a close loss to Upper Iowa University, they finished the year with a record of 8-3. The Warriors also suffered two losses later in the year against top-ranked teams. .

Eight of the team’s players were honored at the end of the season, as they were named a part of the NSIC All-Conference Teams.

First team selections were sophomore offensive lineman Carter Berlin and sophomore defensive back/returner Isaiah Hall.

Second team included senior wide receiver Isaiah Frandsen, senior defensive lineman Michael Ferrant, junior defensive back Romario Gayle and, sophomore linebacker Devin Moore.

Sophomore running back Sam Lloyd-Santiago and sophomore defensive lineman Cole LaLiberty earned honorable mention selections.

Santiago-Lloyd led the Warriors in carries, rushing yards and rushing touchdowns with 121 attempts for 586 yards and five touchdowns, all of which are career-highs for him.

Frandsen also had a career year leading the team in all receiving categories with 43 catches for 740 yards and nine touchdowns which was the fifth-most in the NSIC.

This season was sophomore quarterback Owen Burke’s first as the full-time starter. Burke led Winona State in passing touchdowns and yards with 2,448 yards and 22 touchdowns. He had a 2-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and he completed 54 percent of his passes.

“The biggest thing this team learned this year is how to rise above adversity,” Burke said.  “We had a ton of young players who had to play in big roles due to injury and I believe that will make us stronger moving forward.”

Burke also mentioned leadership which will continue to be a huge part of the team’s success.

“We have a ton of great veteran players returning next year that will play a large role in the success of our team,” Burke said.

Defensively, junior defensive back Cole Monckton led the team with 66 tackles. Ferrante led the team with 13 tackles-for-loss and in sacks with 6.5. Defensive backs Hall and Gayle tied for the team lead in interceptions with five.

On special teams, junior kicker Paul Ortiz made the fourth and fifth longest field goals in Warriors history and went 14/21 in field goals. Isaiah Hall had the most return yards in punts and kickoffs, but the lone return touchdown was by senior receiver Elliot Cox.

The Warriors started out 2-0 to begin the season before back-to-back close losses. After another loss to Minnesota-Duluth. Despite the three losses the Warriors had a big win on homecoming, defeating the University of Mary 54-13.

Following the loss to Duluth, the Warriors finished the season on a three-game win streak, which was concluded with a big senior day victory against the University of Concordia.