Tartan football wins first section title in school history

In 1971, a school on the corner of 10th Street and Greenway Avenue in Oakdale was created because of growth in the community. 

Nearly four decades later, Tartan High School football has officially made a name for itself after clinching its first section championship in school history.  

Tartan defeated Mahtomedi 19-14 in the Section 4AAAAA championship at Mahtomedi High School on Nov. 2. The teams were in the same situation a year ago, except the Zephyrs won 14-0 to advance to state. 

Making it to state was a goal the Titans set during the off-season.

“It’s always good to start the season with goals and this one we obviously set a long time ago,” said Tartan head coach Matt Diediker. “It’s really rewarding to see the kids being able to do it; as coaches we just put a plan into place and just ask the kids to ultimately play.”

The Titans headed to Shakopee Junior High School on Nov. 10 to face the dominant St. Thomas Academy Cadets (10-0). The game was played after the deadline for this edition of the Review.

The Cadets like to play tough, grind-it-out, old school football. Diediker said whoever wins in November is the team that is most physical, and just about everyone in the tournament has that same mindset. 

Tartan started the year undefeated through its first four games of the season. Its first hiccup came against Simley High School on Sept. 28, when the Spartans gave the Titans its first loss of the season. Before that game, Tartan had blown out opponents with a combined score of 163-13. Simley put up 13 points in that single game, which was a season-high for Tartan at that point in the season. Not only did Simley win, but it was the only game where Tartan was shutout. 

The next week, Tartan traveled to Hastings and was handed a 27-7 loss. The Titans were only able to find one score over those two games. Diediker said that the loss against Simley was all because of the psyche of his players. 

“We brought to their attention that it’s not the lack of effort, but the lack of the right mindset,” the coach said. “We talked about the change in the mindset and the losses we’ve had in the middle of the year and I think that’s what helped us finish the year strong.”

Tartan not only had to beat Mahtomedi at home, but the Titans had to do it twice. When Taran dished out a loss to Mahtomedi on Oct. 12, that was the first time in school history the team defeated the Zephyrs on their home turf. 

“I’m honestly glad we played there, I would have rather played there after beating them earlier in the year,” said senior Antwan Kimmons. “I knew we had to go back there and I wasn’t too worried because it’s just a field where we’re playing football.”

When a team places second in a section tournament, each player receives a red lanyard with a runner-up medal. The winners receive a blue lanyard and medal. After the team lost to Mahtomedi last season, it made a commitment to turn the red into blue.  

Diediker and his staff were able to formulate a winning football program in under two years at the helm. Diediker has instilled a mindset that the kids weren’t used to having before. When he took the job as head coach a lot of the players wanted the same thing as Diediker, and that was a program the boys could be proud of. 

“Just seeing the turnaround when coach Diediker came in last year, to where the program was three years [ago], to where it is now,” senior Solomon Whalen said. “It just proves that a team can have quick turnarounds and it feels great.”

 

–Lucas Ailport can be reached at roseville@lillienews.com.

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