It was tough for anyone to look good during Friday night's rain-soaked football game at Lakeville North. While both teams made their share of mistakes on the rain-soaked field, the Maple Grove Crimson made enough plays to win this matchup…
It was tough for anyone to look good during Friday night's rain-soaked football game at Lakeville North. While both teams made their share of mistakes on the rain-soaked field, the Maple Grove Crimson made enough plays to win this matchup of two top-10 teams.
Jake Hanson might have been the player of the game. The senior caught a pass in the flat, made a series of moves to pick up a first down. He took the ball on a counter and scored on a 14-yard touchdown run. Defensively the linebacker made a tackle on the outside and later he had good underneath coverage. He came on a run blitz but was able to break down and stop a roll out by the quarterback. Lakeville North tried to roll the quarterback out, but Hanson again kept contain and made a sack. Hanson later came in on a blitz but didn't overrun the play on a rollout. He and Justin Stolp combined for a sack. It was one of Hanson's eight tackles and four quarterback sacks.
“I had a good game,” Hanson said. “I played a lot of offense and defense. I had a touchdown, a couple of receptions. Defense I had multiple sacks and a lot of big stops. I am just out here playing fast, playing hard and having fun.”
“Jake is a special player,” Crimson coach Matt Lombardi said. “Last year as a junior he was voted the MVP of our defense. He is a little 6'1″ 180-pound skinny guy, but he plays fast, and the kids call him ‘The Deer.' He had a big game today and is one of our leaders.”
Stolp made a tackle for loss on first two plays of the game. Later Lakeville North tried to get the edge on the linebacker, but he stopped the third-down run to prevent a first down. On offense, he made a tough run in the middle of the line behind offensive linemen Alex Eull and Evan Jones.
As a group, the offensive line of Eull, Jones, JT Awosika, Alex Carlson, and Trent Tatur was solid in pass protection and blocking in the running game.
Awosika showed how athletic the 6-foot-5, 280-pound senior can be when he pulled all the way across the formation to get a trap block, to combine with Eull, Jones to spring the running back for a long gain.
“I think I had a really good game in the first half,” Awosika said. “The second half I slipped up a little bit, but it was a pretty good game overall.”
Ben Schroeder made a catch in the flat and broke some tackles to pick up a first down. In the run game along with Awosika, he sealed the edge to spring running back Evan Hull for a long run.
Tatur and tight end Adam Skogman sealed the edge nicely on a sweep.
The two primary benefactors of the offensive line and tight end were quarterback Curtis Haugen and Hull.
Haugen moves well in the pocket and can throw well on the move. He can also pick up tough yards on the ground – he picked up a first down on a fourth and two. He was accurate underneath despite the weather, completed enough deeper passes to keep the defense honest. He played safety last year and played some safety against Lakeville North.
“Curtis has been a huge leader for us,” Lombardi said. “Last year he was a safety, and he was a great safety – plays it this year too. We had to move Curtis to quarterback. He had to fill a role for us, and he has done a great job at it. We've asked him to take on two rolls, and he has done a great job of it.”
Hull was the Crimson's most consistent offensive threat. He made a nice spin move in the hole setting up a long run in the middle of the line behind Eull, Jones and Carlson. Those four combined for at least three long runs. On a third and fifteen Hull picked up sixteen and later he made two excellent moves right at the line of scrimmage to free himself up for a ten yard gain.
Erik Christensen caught five short passes. A few balls were low, and he picked them right off the turf. He also grabbed a slant for a first down, and on a deep out he made a sliding grab. Joe Raymon caught a 46-yard touchdown from Haugen, and later he intercepted a tipped pass.
The defense dominated the entire game. Gavin Pelto stayed home and prevented a positive gain on a sweep to his side. Then the linebacker read a reverse that was supposed to be a pass, but he held contain. Defensive back Carl Owusu didn't bite on the fakes and had the coverage downfield, allowing Pelto to make the tackle for loss. Later he combined with Ben Bristol to stop a run to the outside for no gain.
Defensive end Alex Steinberg made a big hit on the outside; later he scraped to the outside to prevent an outside run.
Owusu made a solid open field tackle, and later he came up strong from a safety position to make a tackle for loss.
The secondary – Jackson Kise, Liam Arbeiter, Owusu, Haugen, and Pelto – forced the quarterback to throw the ball away. Later, again with nowhere for quarterback to throw they forced another coverage sack early in the fourth quarter allowing Skogman to get a sack.
“Their o-line is great,” Skogman said. “I could have had a better game, but overall it was good.”
Many of the Crimson's players play both ways – rare for 6A teams who reside in the top 10. Skogman summed up the mindset of the Crimson's two-way players.
“Playing both sides of the ball is challenging, but the guys look up to me,” said Skogman. “It is a little tough going back and forth and not stopping for a break on the sideline, but I enjoy it.”
The night was miserable, but the 14-6 victory was something all the Crimson faithful certainly enjoyed.