Cougars will take on Cretin-Derham Hall in state quarterfinals
by Andy Rogers
Lakeville South emerged as the victor last weekend in what was probably the biggest high school football game ever played in the city.
The Cougars will return to the state tournament for the third time in four years after defeating their crosstown rival, Lakeville North, 24-17, Oct. 31 in the Section 1-5A final.
The two teams have met before since South opened in 2005, but it was never for the right to go to state.
Lakeville South will take on Cretin-Derham Hall in the Class 5A quarterfinals at 7 p.m. Nov. 7 at Griffin Stadium in St. Paul in a familiar set-up.
Two years ago Lakeville South took on favored Cretin-Derham Hall in the Section 5-5A final only to have South pull out the surprise win in the final minute thanks to a risky two-point conversion.
Photo by Rick Orndorf
Lakeville South’s Alex Richter makes a catch over Lakeville North’s Aaron Gallegos in the Section 1-5A final Oct. 31 at Lakeville North.
South coach Larry Thompson feels his team is ready for another upset.
“Our kids believe they can, and that’s all that matters,” Thompson said. “They really believed in themselves (against North).”
Both Lakeville teams’ fans had reason to cheer in the final moments of section final.
Lakeville North advanced within 30 yards of scoring on two possessions
in the final five minutes, but both resulted in turnovers. One was on
an interception by JD Mehlhorn and one was turned over on downs.
“We knew what we had to do and we didn’t let up,” South linebacker Mike McNamee said.
The biggest difference in the game was the turnover column, which heavily favored Lakeville South.
“I said before the game it would come down to who commits the most
penalties and who makes the turnovers and that’s exactly what
happened,” North coach Mike Zweber said. “But we still had many
opportunities to win.”
The Cougars snared two interceptions by Joe Novak and one by Mehlhorn,
and a key fumble recovery on a punt set up the team’s third score.
Lakeville South never trailed in the game.
Both teams’ offenses were clicking early. The first punt for either team came with 5:47 remaining in the third quarter.
On Lakeville South’s opening drive, the Cougars converted two
fourth-down attempts, including a fake punt, to get into scoring
It took 16 plays and 7:39 minutes, but Lakeville South got on the board thanks to a 30-yard field goal by Ken Johnson.
On Lakeville North’s first drive, the Panthers inched close to the end zone, only to have Novak come down with an interception.
The Cougars increased their lead after converting on another fourth
down thanks to an Eddie Anderson 22-yard run, where he set himself up
for a 3-yard touchdown run to give Lakeville South a 10-0 lead.
The Panthers gutted out a touchdown on their next drive. On the 3-yard
line, quarterback Mike Hartwell lobbed a pass as he was going down and
Bryant McCuddin caught it with his fingertips to cut the lead to 10-7.
In the second half, North made the pivotal play it needed in the second
half with a 43-yard completion from Hartwell to Willie Washington,
setting up a 22-yard field goal to tie the game.
The Cougars answered with a big play of their own. On third-and-15,
Bailey connected with Grant Mitchell for 39 yards setting up an
Anderson 3-yard touchdown run to take the lead, 17-10.
Lakeville North didn’t have any breaks late in the game. On a key
fourth and one for the Panthers, officials spotted the ball just shy of
the first and gave the ball to the Cougars with 8:41 remaining.
Lakeville North’s Freddie Newell fumbled on the punt and Zane Peterson
recovered for Lakeville South. It set up the next touchdown, giving
South the points to win.
Anderson pounded his way through eight yards to the end zone carrying
Panthers with him to give his team a 24-10 lead with 5:15 remaining.
Hartwell’s 32-yard keeper set up a 28-yard touchdown throw to Swanson to keep the game interesting.
A successful onside kick recovery by Ben Freitag, gave the ball back to
Lakeville North, but South stopped the Panthers from getting any closer
Lakeville South’s all-time record against Lakeville North moved to 3-0 with the win.
The Lakeville South seniors have come a long way since the school opened in 2005 when they were freshmen.
That year, the freshman team lost every game by at least three touchdowns and now they’re going to state.
“It shows how much work they’ve put in, how far they’ve come,” Thompson said.
Andy Rogers is at
Photo by Rick Orndorf
Lakeville North’s Freddie Newell, No. 3, fights for more yards after catching a pass from Mike Hartwell with Lakeville South’s Joe Novak, No. 22, making the tackle.