There was not much to celebrate after the Prior Lake Lakers walked off the TCO Stadium field on Friday night. After starting the scoring with a field goal to take an early 3-0 lead over top-ranked Lakeville North, the Lakers…
There was not much to celebrate after the Prior Lake Lakers walked off the TCO Stadium field on Friday night. After starting the scoring with a field goal to take an early 3-0 lead over top-ranked Lakeville North, the Lakers would not score again in route to a 38-3 defeat. Although the Lakers struggled most of the game, many Lakers’ players would show why they have won four contests this season. They could still be a tough out in the 6A playoffs.
The entire game it was clear the game plan was to get the ball to wide receiver Spencer Marlier. The Lakers targeted the 6’2″ senior more than any other receiver in the offense. His best moment came during the first drive of the game when he caught a deep crossing route for a first down. He would catch four more balls, but only totaled 38 yards.
Jackyse Jacox caught a ball in the flat, broke a tackle and had nice yards after catch. Then he showed his open field skills again on a long punt return.
Although quarterback Colin O’Connor struggled with his accuracy most of the night, much of his inaccuracy was due to the relentless Panthers’ pass rush. He showed good mobility both trying to avoid the pass rush and when running to pick up yards when the play broke down. His most effective throws were on crossing routes, like when he connected with Parker Ellis for a first down. Possibly his most impressive throw was a 26-yard deep out that O’Connor threw – while being hit – to Ellis.
Ellis also made a nice catch on a fly pattern that will not show up in the stat sheet because it was called back because of a holding penalty.
Only scoring three points, there was not a lot to like along the offensive line, but Jordan Albright was able to get a seal on the outside a couple of times to get running back Keaton Schroeder to the outside.
The defense gave up 31 points – one touchdown was a Panthers’ defensive touchdown – but were on the field a lot. They also were not put into the best of situations. I wouldn’t say the Lakers’ defense played well, but they played better than the scoreboard indicated.
Linebacker Spencer Shaver recovered a North fumble on the first offensive play of the game for the Panthers. Later he tracked down a runner on the outside for a short gain. He came through on a blitz and forced the quarterback into a bad throw. Shaver played well on the inside too. He stuffed an inside run for no gain.
Fellow linebacker Noah Benson made a great read and shot a gap to make a tackle for loss. Later he did it again and stopped the North running back short – forcing a fourth down.
Not to be outdone, linebacker Michael Herbst got in quickly on what appeared to be a run blitz and made a tackle for loss. Then he read a running play, shot a gap and came up with a tackle for loss. On punt coverage he made a highlight reel hit on the punt returner.
Defensive lineman Hunter Koenig beat blocks at the point of attack to get into the backfield. He didn’t get a lot of tackles recorded on the stat sheet, but he forced running backs off their route and into other Lakers’ defenders. Fellow defensive lineman Ethan Kuehn also made plays on the inside with at least one tackle for loss.
Blake Whaley – also on the defensive line – made a tackle for loss and then later stuffed a run on a third and short to force a fourth down.
Along with his offensive and special teams’ contributions, Jacox also made an impact on defense. He came up strong from his defensive back spot to make an open field tackle on the outside. Against the pass, he got his hands on an errant throw and – like when returning a punt – made guys miss and put together a long return after the interception. The Panthers tested him again, and he had tight coverage which forced an incompletion.
Austin Gordon also made an impact in the Lakers’ secondary. He made a solid tackle in the open field and then had tight coverage on a crossing route.