The Watertown-Mayer football program has come a long way during the careers of this year’s senior class.
As freshman, they looked on as the varsity team went 0-9, mired in a multiple-season losing streak that eventually reached 21 games.
As sophomores, some of them helped finally bring that losing streak to an end, and by the time they were juniors, the Royals were competing for a conference championship.
But for everything the senior class had accomplished in their careers entering last Friday’s game against Tri City United, there is one thing they still had never done.
Win on homecoming.
That all changed last week, and in one of the most thrilling ways possible. The Royals stunned No. 3 Tri City United with an unforgettable 27-20 homecoming victory. The student section stormed the field following an upset that suddenly has the Royals right back into the thick of the Minnesota River Conference title hunt.
“I told the kids before the game in the locker room, ‘I want you to think about this, and look at the opportunity you have,’” Watertown-Mayer coach Craig Johnson said. “It’s homecoming. We’re taking a lot of guff at school because we haven’t won a homecoming game since who knows when. I said, ‘They’re a ranked team, but we can still get a piece of the conference championship.’ You couldn’t write the script any better than this.’”
Johnson finished with one pre-game question for his team. “Are you going to seize the opportunity?”
They sure did. The Royals took a 7-6 halftime lead, expanded the lead to as big a 27-6 in the second half, and then held on late to hold off the Titans.
It’s typical for schools to schedule homecoming games against one of the weaker opponents on their schedule in an attempt to do anything possible to get a win. This year’s schedule, though, left Watertown-Mayer with only one realistic date, meaning if they wanted to win on homecoming, they’d have to do it the hard way, against one of the state’s best teams.
Senior running back Jesse Bushman said that made it all the more special.
“It’s so great to know that it’s not just some pushover homecoming,” said Bushman, “We had to fight every minute.”
Look for more coverage of the thrilling homecoming win on Page 9.
Contact Matt Bunke at firstname.lastname@example.org