Giving their best, win or lose: Sleepy Eye Indians play well despite Tigers’ victory

Katie Roiger

The Springfield Tigers beat the Indians 41-22 on Tuesday, Nov. 17, in the first game of the sectional playoffs, played in Springfield.

“Our first half of football Tuesday night was likely our best of the year,” said Head Coach Cory Haala. 

The Indians opened the game with a touchdown, in a drive that took up most of the first quarter. Arian Saenz rushed for a two-yard scoring drive. Erizen Traconis ran for the two-point conversion, giving the Indians a lead of 8-0.

In the second quarter, the Tigers rushed 13 yards for a touchdown and missed their attempt at a two-point conversion. The Indians followed up with another two-yard rushing touchdown by Saenz, and Jackson Huiras ran for the two-point conversion.

The Tigers threw a 25-yard scoring pass to finish out the first half, bringing them within two points of the Indians: 16-14.

During the second half, the Tigers jumped into the lead with a 61-yard rushing touchdown. They steadily gained points with four more consecutive scoring drives, as the Indians dealt with offensive errors. The Indians threw two interceptions, one of which the Tigers returned 45 yards for a touchdown. The Indians also lost a fumble, but recovered three from the Tigers and caught one interception.

“We had a hard time tackling in space, leading to a few quick, long touchdowns for Springfield,” Haala said.

In the fourth quarter, Huiras ran six yards for a touchdown, the last of the game. The Indians’ rushing game was strong, with 174 yards. Saenz had 83 yards on 20 attempts, with Huiras following up with 41 yards on 13 attempts.

Huiras also led in receptions, with 36 yards. Kaden Strong and Traconis were both close behind with 35 receiving yards each. With 114 passing yards, the Indians’ total yardage gained was 288.

Saenz led the defense with four solo tackles and three assists. Kadon Strong, David Gonzalez, and Jacob Schultz each had a sack.

“I was really proud of the way our guys competed and played until the very end, especially our seniors Kegan Heidersheidt, Kadon Strong, David Gonzalez, Jared Freestone, Kevin Montemayor, Mason Thoms and Jack Nelson,” said Haala.

Sleepy Eye Indians seniors played their final football game Nov. 17, from left: Kegan Heiderscheidt, Jack Nelson, Jared Freestone, David Gonzalez, Vincent Antunez, Kadon Strong, Kevin Montemayor, Mason Thoms.