It was a 6A top ten battle in the city of Lakeville on Friday night. The undefeated Lakeville North Panthers played host to crosstown rival and once-beaten Lakeville South Cougars. When the night was done, the number one ranked, defending…
It was a 6A top ten battle in the city of Lakeville on Friday night. The undefeated Lakeville North Panthers played host to crosstown rival and once-beaten Lakeville South Cougars. When the night was done, the number one ranked, defending state champions had fallen, and the Cougars had their first win over North in ten years. Who stood out on an individual basis for both Lakeville squads?
Riley Mahlman Lakeville South TE/DE
If not the top junior in the state, Mahlman is close, and he showed why. As a tight end, he was part of a rushing attack that gashed the Panthers’ defense repeatedly. He is a big, physical blocker who has the feet to deal with outside defenders. On defense, he was aggressive when he needed to be, but he was instrumental in containing North quarterback Raja Nelson. Mahlman did a great job getting off blocks and using his leverage to keep the athletic quarterback from getting outside. The Panthers tried to run a reverse at Mahlman, but he stayed at home and forced the runner out wide so his teammates could make the play. Late in the game, Mahlman drew a holding penalty – again keeping Nelson from getting to the outside.
Johnny Shabaz Lakeville South RB
Shabaz was the workhorse runner for the Cougars. He showed a bit of everything on the first drive of the game. He showed good vision finding the hole on early runs. Then he showed his speed on a 60-yard touchdown run to start the scoring. Shabaz does not look like a power back, but he has a low center of gravity and was effective in short-yardage situations – including a short touchdown run in the second half.
Jon Elliott Lakeville South OT, Luke Thompson Lakeville South OG
The offensive line as a whole could be listed here. The left side of the offensive line set the tone for the whole game on the first drive. South’s first six plays were runs behind – along with tight end Mahlman – Elliot and Thompson. The first five runs picked up two first downs, and the sixth play resulted in Shabaz’s first touchdown run. The North defense came into this game, giving up an average of six points a game. Almost exclusively on the ground, the Cougars scored 34 points. That kind of production doesn’t happen without a dominating offensive line.
Riley Haglund Lakeville South RB
While Shabaz got most of the work, Haglund – especially in the second half – chewed up yardage on the ground. He bounced off a tackler to get to the outside and added a spin move to pick up more yardage. Later, on that same drive, Haglund got to the corner and used his speed to pick up twenty yards. He finished off the drive with a short touchdown run.
Raja Nelson Lakeville North QB
The Panthers’ offense didn’t get much done during the game – they only put up 19 points, and six of those were after the outcome was decided. The biggest bright spot on the offense was Nelson. The Lakeville South game plan was to keep Nelson from getting to the perimeter. They did a good job of it. However, whenever the defense got out of position, Nelson made them pay. He was hit and miss when throwing the ball, but whenever he got into the open field – he was electric.