Waconia football head coach Pat Foley has always said the Wright County Conference is one of the toughest around. That was evident in the 2012 season, as six of the WCC’s eleven teams played in a section final game, with four teams – Annandale, Holy Family, Hutchinson, and New London-Spicer – qualifying for the Class AAA and Class AAAA state tournaments.
For a struggling Wildcat team, playing against eventual state tournament qualifiers resulted in a 1-8 season, the first losing season for Waconia since 2004 (when they finished 2-7).
The Wildcats held their own in games against Annandale (lost 23-30 on Aug. 31) and New London-Spicer (lost 14-21 on Sept. 7), but fell victim to a crushing victory by Hutchinson in a 61-7 loss on Sept. 21. Waconia also dropped games to Delano, Holy Family, Glencoe-Silver Lake, and Orono during the regular season.
The sole highlight of the dark record was the team’s 35-19 homecoming upset at Mound-Westonka on Sept. 28. That win kept the Wildcats off the bottom of the conference.
Foley said injuries to crucial players affected the season and the Wildcats’ ability to play a solid ball game. Early in the season senior Riley Trnka was injured. As he came back to playing form, junior Tommy Gove and senior Cole Sawyer both went out with injuries, followed a week later by senior Wylie Ferron.
As an offensive unit, the Wildcats put together more than 2,760 yards (1,370 rushing and 1,395 passing) for 20 touchdowns and 150 points. Senior quarterback Cody Clark held 1,334 of the team’s passing yards, completing 106 of 198 passes for seven touchdowns. Senior Shannon Storely completed two of five passes for 61 yards and one touchdown. The Waconia passing unit also threw nine interceptions during the season.
Senior Jacob Fettig led the Wildcats with 685 rushing yards for two touchdowns, while Trnka rushed 296 yards for four touchdowns. Senior Ryan Mattson and sophomore Mason Hemze both broke the 150-yard rushing mark. Mattson rushed 178 yards for one touchdown, and Hemze logged 158 yards for two touchdowns. Clark ran in two touchdowns and Gove had one. Mattson, who catalogued nearly 600 yards on 42 receptions for three touchdowns, topped the receiver list. Fettig (207 yards), Gove (179), and Ferron (141) also topped 100 receiving yards.
The Waconia defense held its own against some of the top athletes in the conference, allowing only 178 points against (to the Wildcats’ 150 scored), while grabbing six interceptions and eight sacks. Three of those interceptions came during the Mound-Westonka game on Sept. 28, while half the sacks were made on Sept. 7 against New London-Spicer. Mattson and senior Wyatt Held each grabbed two interceptions, while junior Matt Gorres and Gove split the rest. Senior Mitch Green had four of the team’s eight sacks, supported by Gorres (2), Trnka (1), and senior Charles Ombati (1).
Green also led the team with 61 tackles, alongside junior Charles Frempong-Longdon. Junior Nick Hukriede (57), Trnka (49), Gorres (48), Mattson (46), Gove (43), and Held (41) all had over 40 solo tackles. Foley said his goals for next season begin with a strong start to the regular season, to play well early on.
“Three of our first four games will be against teams that made the state playoffs this year,” he said.
Any early season success the Wildcats may have will have to come without this year’s seniors, including Fettig, Trnka, Mattson, Clark, Ombati, Ferron, and Green, among many others.
“All fifteen seniors will be missed as they all contributed in one way or another,” Foley said.
At the team’s annual banquet, many awards were announced. All-Conference honors went to Green and Mattson, while Clark, Fettig, Ferron, Gove, and Trnka all received All-Conference Honorable Mention. Mattson was also named the WCC’s Defensive Back of the Year.
Team awards included: Mr. Hustle – Charles Frempong-Longdon, Most Improved – Cody Clark, Best Lineman – Drew Johnson, Best Defense – Mitch Green and Charles Frempong-Longdon, and Best Offense – Ryan Mattson.