West looking to win second consecutive state title

The Scarlets are fresh off a thrilling win in the semifinals.
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 6:43 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Anfernee Patterson: First things first coach, you get an interception, then you fumble on the first play and give it back before finally getting the goal line stop. What are your emotions going through those three sequences, ultimately to win against Rogers,?

JJ Helget: You know, you’re excited because you got the big stop and you get the interception. We thought we had a good play called and we cut it back, and the guy makes a nice play. We fumbled. and then you’re thinking, “Oh,shoot, did that really happen?” We swung momentum, then we unswung the momentum. Our defense has been great all year. So in my mind, I’m telling myself, “The defense is going to hold, the Defense going to hold. They’re going to save us. They’re going to help us.” And they did. It was awesome.

Anfernee: And Trent, you’re the defensive lineman, going through this game. Obviously, you strike first and then they strike back. And then, just as we mentioned, you guys hold to come through in the end. What was the message going into that last series again?

Trent Fontaine: Yeah, going into that last play, we just basically had to hunker down as a defense. You kind of just think like, alright, here, we got to go. We got to get it done. You know, we have to get that stop and so basically, just talk to the whole defense. Hype everybody up, everybody’s ready to go. And you get low, stay on the ball, drive, got to play gaps and we got the stop right there at the end.

Anfernee: Last week when I spoke with you going into this game, you talked about the schedule that you guys had to go through. Obviously, the win against Rochester Mayo and then getting this type of win. How does that help you guys going into State championship against Elk River

Helget: You know, Elk River is a very good team. Because of that, I think all of those games in front of us have battle tested us. And not to say that they’re not battle tested, but we’ve won the last three games by a combined score of nine points. We’ve been keeping everybody on the edge of their seats. But I tell the guys, it doesn’t matter how pretty it is, how beautiful it is, if we score 50 or if we score 21, as long as our score is higher than the other teams, that’s all that matters. And you know what? The guys have done a great job. They haven’t quit.

Anfernee: For both of you guys, starting with you, Coach. What is going to be the difference for you guys to get a consecutive state title to bring back to Mankato?

Helget: We just got to come in and play Mankato West football. We got to do what we do defensively. We got to hold our gaps. They’re going to want to run the football. That’s what they do. We got to be sound. It’s not hero ball anymore. It’s team ball. So if your job is to hold the a gap, you got to hold the a gap. If your job is to hold the hold the c gap, you’ve got to read your keys and run to the football. Offensively, we just need to execute. We’re going to cut down on little mistakes .Every drive in the last two weeks, I feel like that has faltered, has faltered because just one simple mistake day, one mistake that’s just kind of in the moment of the situation. We’re just having those mental errors and that’s kind of been the focus over the last two weeks.

Fontaine: I mean, from last year, like the mindset was just determination the whole year long and everybody did as best they could and everybody was great.We obviously want to stay tall last year, but for this year, I think like Helget said, there’s no eye in team and everybody else there has got to go play team ball. Football is a team sport and if everybody plays sound, we can win this ball game, no doubt. Everybody’s got to do their job, play sound football, play technical and we’ll okay.

Kick off is at 4 p.m. Saturday at US Bank Stadium.