Banquet nixed; players in court

BLUE EARTH — The annual postseason banquet for the Blue Earth Area High School football team has been canceled because of the ongoing investigation concerning several football players.

A letter was recently sent to the football players and their parents announcing the cancellation. It cited the ongoing investigation of an alleged assault involving five football players as the reason for the cancellation.

“We had a lot of positives happen this season and players that deserve recognition but due to the extenuating circumstances at the end of the season, we will not be having our traditional banquet,” the football coaches stated in the letter. “The investigation is still ongoing and we don’t want to put anyone in an uncomfortable position.”

Instead of the banquet, the players, parents and coaches gathered at the high school on Sunday to eat pizza and give out awards and certificates.

According to a criminal complaint filed by the Winnebago Police Department, four BEA football players reportedly held down and beat one of their teammates until he was unconscious at a party in Winnebago in October.

Two of the players — Blake Barnett, 17, and Caden Ochsendorf, 16 — appeared in Faribault County District Court on Monday. Both are charged with third-degree assault, and aiding and abetting third-degree assault. Barnett pleaded not guilty, and his pretrial hearing is scheduled for Jan. 3. Ochsendorf’s hearing was closed to the public, as he was 15 at the time of the alleged assault.

Two other football players are facing charges, with both having court appearances scheduled this month. Wyatt Tungland, 18, is charged with third-degree assault, and aiding and abetting third-degree assault, while Dalton Nagel, 18, is charged with aiding and abetting third-degree assault.