Lakeville North is Atop Minnesota 6A Football
The Lakeville North Panthers won their first state title as Lakeville North with a thrilling 28-21 win over the defending State Champion Eden Prairie Eagles at US Bank Stadium Friday night. Eden Prarie's only losses this season were to Lakeville North. Week two was a defensive battle won by Lakeville North 14-0 in Lakeville.
During our pregame interview Head Coach Brian Vossen predicted his Panthers would see a better offensive attack out of Eden Prairie and was confident his team would be able to match their intensity. They did. Lakeville North got the ball to start the game. On their second offensive play senior running back Brian Curtis Junior fumbled at the end of a 10 yard run. The ball was recovered by Eagle senior linebacker Quentin Matsui and Eden Prairie took over at the Lakeville North 49 yard line.
The first play for the Eagles was stuffed by Lakeville North junior Landon Carter. Then Eden Prairie quarterback senior Cole Kramer delivered a strike to senior receiver Daejon Wolfe-Brusehaver for a 49 yard touchdown. The drive took just 44 seconds. No shutout this time.
The Panthers would respond with two first quarter scores of their own. Their first drive took 12 plays covering 65 yards and 4:52 capped off by running back junior Raja Nelson 5 yard scamper into the purple Vikings end zone. Nelson carried the ball 7 times on the drive for 28 yards and Curtis had 5 carries for 32 yards. Both backs have excellent vision and quick feet and it doesn't hinder their efforts when they run behind the massive, athletic Lakeville North offensive line anchored by 6'9 305 pound senior Bryce Benhart. Benhart has verbally committed to become a Nebraska Cornhusker next year. 6'3 310 pound senior center Jack Hansen helped pop a few runs on the drive also.
Eden Prarie was stymied on their next drive and Kramer booted a 53 yard punt to the Lakeville North 18 yard line. Following four runs Panthers quarterback senior Brennan Kuebler threw a 73 yard touchdown pass to junior Keaton Mohs. Junior Nicholas Mines hit the extra point and it was 14-7 Lakeville North. The 82 yard drive took 2:14 in 5 plays. The first quarter ended with a 14-7 Panthers lead. Lakeville North had the ball 7:52 and Eden Prairie 4:08 in the quarter. The Panthers collected 154 total yards the Eagles had 59 total yards.
Eden Prairie would tie the game with 8:57 to go in the first half on a 1 yard plunge into the end zone by senior Felipe Izumi. Sophomore kicker Connor Reynolds nailed the extra point.
The Eagles then took their second and final lead of the game after stopping the Panthers drive and taking the ball over at their 20 yard line. On the first play senior Jordan Amundson looked like he was shot out of a cannon on a misdirection play and scored on the 80 yard run. The one play 17 second drive according to the official statistics following a Reynolds kick made it Eden Prairie 21 Lakeville North 14.
The Panthers would answer with a 10 play 78 yard drive that culminated in a 1 yard Raja Nelson run. The big play in the drive was a 48 yard pass by Curtis to Nelson. Curtis was being knocked down as he threw the ball and it was still delivered perfectly over the shoulder of Nelson to the Eagles 3 yard line. That score happened with :54 to go in the first half. At halftime the score was Lakeville North 21 Eden Prairie 21.
Following our Dakota Electric Association halftime report where we had a nice conversation with Lakeville North Activities Director Mike Zweber Eden Prairie got the ball to start the second half.
The Panthers defense took over in the second half limiting the Eagles to 12 total yards in the third quarter while Lakeville North scored the only TD of the second half. 4:36 to go in the third quarter a Nelson 10 yard run capping a 7 play 28 yard drive with the Mines extra kick made the score Lakeville North 28 Eden Prairie 21.
The Eden Prairie defense stiffened in the fourth quarter to keep the team in the game. On a 4th and 8 with the ball at the Lakeville North 44 yard line Eagles Head Coach Mike Grant chose to punt the football. It turned out to be a good decision because Lakeville North started the possession at their 2 yard line. The Eagles allowed just 4 yards on the next three plays and the Panthers saw just 65 seconds go off the clock and had to punt from their own end zone.
Eden Prairie took over at the 35 of Lakeville North with 1:21 to go in the game and no time outs. Following a false start by the Eagles and an incomplete pass Kramer dropped back to throw and was sacked at the 50 yard line by Landon Carter and Eli Mostaert. There was an incomplete pass before Eden Prairie on a 4th and 25 yards threw a post route to Cade Kramer that nearly got the yardage needed. Panther junior Ryan Mudgett tackled the Eagle 3 yards shy of the first down marker.
Lakeville North took over the ball with :24 to go, set up in victory formation, took a knee to win their first football title as Lakeville North.
The final statistics showed Lakeville North with 170 yards rushing and 143 passing and Eden Prarie with 104 rushing and 146 passing for totals of 313 to 250. That means the Eagles had 50 total yards in the second half and the Panthers 62 total yards. Talk about halftime adjustments
Two terrific coaching staffs matching wits was fun to watch .
Curtis finished with 85 yards rushing, Nelson 73 yards and three scores. Curtis had the 48 yard pass to Nelson. Kuebler was 3 of 4 passing for 95 yards, a touchdown and a interception.
Kramer entered the title game completing 78 percent of his passes in the state tournament. Lakeville North pressured him a lot in the second half and he ended the game 7 of 16 (44%) with 146 yards and a score. Amundson had 107 yards rushing for the Eagles.
On defense 6'4 245 pound senior Eli Mostaert (going to NDSU) had 8 tackles, a sack, forced fumble and recovery. 6'2 200 pound junior Landon Carter collected a sack, two tackles for loss, forced fumble and quarterback hurry along with 6 tackles. 6'1 205 pound junior Preston Palmer had 5 tackles, 2 for loss and two quarterback hurries.
Eden Prairie 6'1 195 pound senior Quentin Matsui had 11 tackles, 10 solo, 2 for loss and a fumble recovery and 6'0 195 pound senior Collin Penn recorded 10 tackles with 3 for loss, a forced fumble and fumble recovery. Nose guard 5'11 215 pound junior Cheo Trotter had 6 tackles and one for loss.
The Panthers finished the game with 3 turnovers and the Eagles 1
Lakeville High School did have three titles in three different classes in Class A 1988, Class AA 1992 and Class 5A in 2003.
During our pregame visit Coach Vossen told KDHL it would be "sweet" to get their first title against an Eden Prairie program that has been the "top team in the largest schools class" 11 times in the past 22 years and 5 of the last 7 years.
Lakeville North is the top Class 6A team in 2018.