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DL fullback Dustin Rietsema had a big game against Duluth East last year and the Lakers will be looking for some explosive plays in Wednesday's North?Country Conference showdown vs. the Greyhounds.

Conference title on line tonight for DL football

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Conference title on line tonight for DL football
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Detroit Lakes head football coach Flint Motschenbacher is still waiting for his team to put on a complete game together, and it couldn't come at a better time than tonight (Wednesday).

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The North Country Conference championship is in the balance as the Beasts from the East -- undefeated and No. 7 Class 4A ranked Duluth East -- visit Mollberg Field for the title tilt, starting a 7 p.m.

The Greyhounds are looking for their first conference championship since 2005, while the Lakers (5-2, 4-0) are hoping to repeat after winning their first one last year.

"That was one of our goals at the start of the season, is to win the conference," Motschenbacher said. "I've been waiting for this group to put together one complete game, too. They've been close."

Last week, the Lakers faced their toughest opponent of the season in Wahpeton, N.D., losing to the talented Huskies 22-13.

The loss was keyed by some un-DL-like stalls in the red zone. After scoring touchdowns on their last 17 red zone trips in a row, the Lakers failed to convert points in their final two trips against Wahpeton.

"We moved the ball up and down the field, but failed to get any points out of that," Motschenbacher said. "You can't do that against teams like Wahpeton."

Last year at this time, the Lakers capped their perfect 8-0 regular season and conference championship against Duluth East on the road with a 20-0 win.

Some familiar faces from that contest will be meeting up again, as senior fullback Dustin Rietsema paced DL with 126 yards and two touchdowns in the win.

The Laker defense quelled the mammoth Greyhound offensive line, shutting their rushing attack down to 124 yards, led by Ian Hanson's 42 yards.

But this is a much more experienced Greyhound squad, which played to the Class 4A state quarterfinals in 2007 before losing a close game against Totino-Grace, 31-13 (Duluth East was within one scoring possession late in the third quarter).

"We were right there for about two-thirds of the game against Totino-Grace," said Duluth East head coach Joe Hietala. "That game kind of showed the kids that they belong on that level. Winning a conference championship (Wednesday) would also mean a lot to the players and to the school."

It's something Duluth East has been favored to do since week one and through the season.

The Greyhounds have pounded their opponents with their massive offensive and defensive lines, outscoring their foes by a wide 270-59 margin.

"They are obviously experienced, with many of their players back from that Section 7-4A championship team," Motschenbacher said. "They will be our toughest test of the season."

It all starts up front for Duluth East, where the linemen casts some big shadows on the field.

Their line includes left tackle Hal Spot (6-2, 285), left guard/defensive end Ben Hillman (6-4, 210), center/DT Jamie Perala-Dewey (6-2, 200), RG/DT Mike Downing (6-2, 275), RT/DT Phil Norman (6-5, 270) and TE/ILB Jon Tisak (6-3, 225).

"We do have nice size up front and our left side of the line have been starters since their sophomore seasons," Hietala said. "Jon Tisak also has been playing since his sophomore season. So we do have good experience, as well."

The line paced the Greyhounds to their first-ever state experience and that momentum has rolled into 2008.

They have an impressive win over Fargo North by the score of 27-15 Sept. 12, with over 500 yards of offense, and have bulldozed their way through conference play.

The Greyhounds have big play capability, as well, with Erik Neilsen (6-0, 200) and Nick Toscano (6-0, 185) toting the rock behind the big line.

"I think we have a good package to hold them down, because you don't stop them, but hold them down," Motschenbacher said. "We can't give up the big plays and also have some long drives to keep the ball out of their offense's hands."

The Lakers have proven to be able to eat up some time-consuming drives, as happened last week in Wahpeton, where DL went on a 17-play drive which ate up just over eight minutes of the clock.

Unfortunately, the drive ended on a failed fourth and goal conversion.

"We need to finish drives," Motschenbacher said plainly.

Duluth East has used the big play as a weapon, to build big leads and allow their stingy defense to take over.

So the big play will be a focus for both teams.

"Fortunately, we've had a lot of big plays and haven't had to sustain long drives," Hietala said. "We are confident we can score from anywhere on the field."

Both coaches believe the fewest mistakes by a team will ultimately decide the winner.

For both, it's also a great tune up game for the upcoming Section playoffs, which start Tuesday.

"This is a very good tune-up game for us with the level of intensity going in, and due to the fact we are playing for something (a conference championship," the Duluth East coach said.

The Lakers have basically secured a No. 3 seed for the Section 8-4A playoffs and will host one of three teams Tuesday, depending on the outcomes of the season finales of Sartell, St. Cloud Apollo and Rocori.

Laker results

The 2008 Detroit Lakes season stats --?5-2 record.

Lakers 197, Opponents 123

Detroit Lakes 35 64 60 38 -- 197

Opponents - 19 30 43 31 -- 123

Scoring

Reed Oistad -- 78 points (13 rushing TDs).

Dustin Rietsema -- 30 points (4 rushing TD, 1 receiving).

Aaron Gnoinsky -- 18 points (2 receiving, 1 rushing).

Joe Mollberg -- 18 points (2 receiving, 1 rushing).

Josh Stalberger -- 14 points (2 receiving TD, 1 2-point reception).

Steven Labine -- 13 points (13-15 PAT kicks).

Max Knoll -- 8 points (1 rushing TD, 1 2-point reception).

Logan Baker -- 6 points (1 rushing).

Nate Baker -- 6 points (1 rushing).

Luke Champa -- 4 points (4-5 PAT?kicks).

DL Opp

First Downs 102 92

By Rushing 71 67

By passing 25 19

By penalty 6 6

Net Yards Rushing 1469 1517

No. rushes 287 279

Yards gained 1584 1636

Yards lost 115 119

Net Yards Passing 690 348

No. passes 91 93

Completed 41 33

Incomplete 45 47

Had intercepted 5 13

Interception yards 152 26

Total Offensive Plays 401 399

TOTAL NET YARDS 2159 1865

Kickoffs 37 24

Yards 1634 918

Ave. kickoff 44.2 38.3

Kickoffs Returned 20 34

Yards 339 514

Ave. return 16.6 15.1

Fumbles 23 13

Fumbles lost 10 8

Penalties 30 42

Yards 223 335

* * *

Individual Rushing

DL --

Player NR YG YL Net

Reed Oistad 112 613 48 565

Dustin Rietsema 105 506 12 494

Aaron Gnoinsky 19 167 15 152

Max Knoll 19 145 24 121

Nate Baker 3 42 7 35

Joe Mollberg 9 33 0 33

Logan Baker 8 33 4 29

Jon Gilson 6 19 0 19

Alex Feldt 1 6 0 6

Brett Provo 1 4 0 4

Justin Holm 1 2 0 2

Connor Hedstrom 3 6 5 1

* * *

Individual Passing

Player No Comp Inc Int Yds TD

DL --

Oistad 86 40 42 4 682 7

Mollberg 5 1 3 1 8 0

* * *

Pass Receiving

Player No. Yds. TD

DL --

Knoll 10 154 0

Rietsema 9 181 1

Stalberger 9 135 2

Joe Mollberg 7 152 2

Gnoinsky 2 54 2

N. Baker 2 21 0

Gilson 1 8 0

* * *

Kickoffs

Player No. Yds. Ave.

DL --

Brock Johnson 35 1558 44.5

Edgar Negron 1 40 40

Chris Nelson 1 36 36

* * *

Kickoffs Returned

Player No. Yds. Ave.

DL --

Gnoinsky 9 181 20.1

Rietsema 4 99 24.5

Connor McLeod 2 24 12

Alex Feldt 2 15 7.5

Knoll 1 5 5

* * *

Pass Interceptions

Player No. Yds.

DL -

Stalberger 3 65

Gnoinsky 3 25

Josh Tweeton 2 19

Andy Pedersen 2 11

T.J. Manning 1 16

Zane Kotschevar 1 16

Knoll 1 0

* * *

Sacks

Player No. Yds. lost

DL -

Alex Feldt 3 20

Alex Johnson 1.5 18

Davis Johnson 1.5 14

Kotschevar 1 9

Mike Kohler 1 9

Brock Johnson 1 14

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