The play that St. Michael-Albertville's Kale Hoselton made to tip the game in the Knights' favor in their 27-6 victory over Maple Grove on Thursday night was a perfect demonstration of why football coaches love seniors.
The Knights were clinging to a 7-6 lead early in the fourth quarter. The game was moving along in fits and spurts. The next big play would likely give the team that made it a decided edge.
Hoselton, a 6-4 senior safety, made that play. Positioned in the right spot, he snatched a tipped pass in the air at top speed, then raced down the sideline for a 50-yard touchdown and a 13-6 lead. The Knights celebrated, the Crimson sagged.
"I always know, no matter how late in the game it is, that I'll have an opportunity to make a play," Hoselton said. "I was in the right place at the right time. I like to read the quarterback's eyes and that's what led me there."
His play was no surprise to St. Michael-Albertville coach Jared Essler, who's witnessed Hoselton's talents often.
"He's an All-Metro-type player," Essler said. "He had eight picks last year. He's a difference-maker and he made the difference tonight."
St. Michael-Albertville, fully energized, added two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter — a 50-yard run by quarterback Kolby Gartner and a 21-yard interception return by Davis Moseng.
"We have a lot of things we have to clean up," said Essler, whose team fumbled once and threw three interceptions. "But we had a lot of guys playing their first varsity game. Week one is usually ugly, and it's better win ugly."
Maple Grove scrapped its old pro-style offense for an option-style veer. The Crimson moved the ball, but struggled with consistency and mistakes often stalling promising drives.
Still, Crimson coach Matt Lombardi said he was encouraged.
"I said to my wife that I actually feel strangely uplifted," Lombardi said. "I'll have to become a good coach and teach them not to make mistakes, but they can do it. I think in long run, we can figure this out."