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Lakers Kirk McLeod (3) and quarterback Michael Herzog celebrate a TD scored during the Class 4A quarterfinals against Princeton. Photo by - Brian Basham

Laker Football Wrap-Up

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sports Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

The check marks were more than prevalent on the Detroit Lakes football team's 2012 season goal list, as every single one was accomplished.

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The bar the Lakers set for themselves was not low, either, with such preseason accomplishments as going undefeated in the regular season, Heart O'Lakes North Conference champions and winning the Section 8-4A championship were eventually reached.

The Lakers returned to the state playoffs for the first time in 10 years, where they eventually fell in a game for the ages, a 34-31 four-overtime loss to Princeton.

But this successful season was not pulled off by individual players, but by the team as a whole.

"This group of kids accomplished every season goal they set out for themselves," said DL head coach Flint Motschenbacher. "If you look at their list, it includes playing with consistency, playing smart, taking care of the ball, winning the HOL and the Section 8-4A title.

"They did all those things."

Going undefeated is never a small feat, either, and many contributing factors went into that 8-0 record.

The top one was DL's ability to take care of the ball and create turnovers. Their plus-18 turnover ratio margin (11-to-29) was an important key in their 341-166 scoring margin.

In other words, the Lakers scored points off their turnovers, while hoarding the ball when they were on offense.

"That's a sign of a good team, we didn't beat ourselves," Motschenbacher said.

But what the Lakers did was beat other teams with their physicality, which keyed their hard-nosed rushing attack and a stingy defense.

One of the featured rushers was junior quarterback Michael Herzog, who punished would-be tacklers with a consistent hard-running style.

He owns the DLHS all-time single-season rushing attempts record with 299, which easily eclipses Corey Brogren's 235 set in 1997.

Herzog just missed another DLHS mark, after coming up just seven rushing yards shy of overtaking the all-time single-season rushing record set by Mark Leslie in 1985 with 1,427 yards.

Herzog does become the second all-time leading single-season rusher with 1,420 yards.

His 23 rushing touchdowns and two 2-point conversions for 142 points ranks him second all-time on the single-season scoring list, eight points behind Ryan Manke's 150, set in 1999.

"We always want to rush the ball well and everyone did their job when we ran it," Motschenbacher said. "Everyone up front was consistent and we blocked on the perimeter very well. There just weren't a lot of mistakes on the offensive side of the ball."

The Lakers kept improving each week in moving the ball down the field, which incorporated a big-play passing attack later in the season.

Herzog's 13 passing touchdowns ranks tied for fifth on the DLHS all-time single season list, while he threw for 970 yards, for an average of 20.6 yards per completion.

"We didn't complete many passes (47), but when the defenses were loading up against the run, we were able to hit on some big plays through the air," Motschenbacher said. "The big thing was, we passed when we wanted to."

Herzog's top target was senior Kirk McLeod, who hauled in six touchdowns and gained 430 yards on 19 completions (22.6 ypc).

McLeod, along with senior slotback Stephen Erb, made a formidable big-play duo. Erb had just 10 catches, but four went for touchdowns, while the speedster also had two rushing touchdowns.

"Both those guys made big plays when we needed them," Motschenbacher said. "When we went to them, it usually resulted in an explosive play."

Herzog's rushing mate in the back field was junior Jarret Nosal, who had a very solid season running the ball in the form of 779 yards on 138 carries (5.6 ypr).

With the Laker offense putting together long, clock-eating drives, the DL defense cleaned up by forcing three-and-outs and hard-hitting tackles.

With the Lakers averaging 5.2 yards per rush and 330.7 yards per game, DL limited the opposing team to 4.0 ypr and 235.7 yards per game.

It usually ended in a lopsided score.

"Overall, this was a solid team, one which wasn't flashy, but brought a workmanlike attitude into every game," Motschenbacher said.

Erb was a turnover machine from his free safety position, picking off eight passes, which included an interception returned for a touchdown.

DL's defense also could score, with Erb, Sam Champa -- who also had four interceptions on the season -- and McLeod each returning interceptions for touchdowns.

But it started up front, where it was a senior-dominated unit. The linebackers also proved to be dominant, providing a good second layer of defense and also the ability to make plenty of tackles for loss.

"The seniors up front were a solid group of leaders," Motschenbacher said. "They were our core group who led by example."

Completing the balance was a spectacular special teams, which included return man Erb (23.6 ypr), senior kicker Christian Tigges (25 points and 46.3 yards per kickoff) and a pair of solid return and coverage teams.

"That was what made this team good, we were very good in all three phases of the game," Motschenbacher added.

With the seniors such as McLeod, Erb, linemen Tyler Gebhart, Brandon Johnson, A.J. Matter and Jason Griego leaving some holes to fill for the 2013 team, DL will still see plenty of talent returning.

Players such as Herzog, Nosal, lineman Josh Weber, Champa, lineman Kirby Siewert, linebacker Dylan Bremseth, wide receiver Casey Paskey and secondary player Ryan Cihak will be joined by a host of younger players itching to prove themselves and bring the Lakers back where they ended the season -- in the state playoffs.

"It's a long, hard road to get back to where we were," Motschenbacher said.

"It's not easy, and it proves to show how big an accomplishment these kids earned for getting how far they actually did."

Laker final stats

The 2012 Detroit Lakes football stats (two playoff games) 10-1.

Detroit Lakes 22, Hermantown 7

Detroit Lakes 21, Pequot Lakes 0

Detroit Lakes 24, Thief River Falls 6

Detroit Lakes 48, Staples-Motley 0

Detroit Lakes 28, East Grand Forks 7

Detroit Lakes 40, Park Rapids 22

Detroit Lakes 36, Perham 28

Detroit Lakes 28, Crookston 20

SECTION PLAYOFFS

Detroit Lakes 34, Thief River Falls 8

Detroit Lakes 29, Rocori 28

CLASS 4A STATE PLAYOFFS

Princeton 34, Detroit Lakes 31 (4 OT)

Lakers 341, Opponents 166

Opponents - 21 43 39 50 13 -- 166

Detroit Lakes - 78 129 60 64 10 -- 341

Scoring:

Michael Herzog: 142 points (23 rushing touchdowns, 2 2-point conversion run)

Stephen Erb: 44 points (2 rushing, 4 receiving, 1 interception return touchdown, 1 2-point conversion reception)

Kirk McLeod: 42 points (6 receiving touchdowns, 1 interception return)

Jarret Nosal: 36 points (6 rushing touchdown)

Christian Tigges: 25 points (22-27 PAT kicks, 1 FG)

Casey Paskey: 12 points (2 receiving touchdown)

Sam Champa: 9 points (1 interception return touchdown, 3-4 PAT kicks).

Derek Long: 6 points (1 receiving touchdown).

A.J. Matter: 6 points (3 2-point conversions catches)

Michael Herrmann: 6 points (1 receiving touchdown)

Christian Hedstrom: 6 points (1 rushing touchdown)

TEAM: 6 points (3 safeties)

Austin Weber: 1 point (1-2 PAT kicks).

DL Opp

First Downs 143 113

By Rushing 120 60

By passing 17 42

By penalty 6 11

Net Yards Rushing 2644 1501

No. rushes 510 375

Yards gained 2844 1660

Yards lost 200 159

Yards per rush avg. 5.2 4.0

Net Yards Passing 994 1092

No. passes 103 195

Completed 48 80

Incomplete 49 99

Had intercepted 6 16

Interception yards 294 5

Total Offensive Plays 660 628

TOTAL NET YARDS 3638 2593

Kickoffs 59 34

Yards 2662 1168

Ave. kickoff 45.1 34.4

Kickoffs Returned 19 49

Yards 393 789

Ave. return 20.7 16.1

Fumbles 22 24

Fumbles lost 5 13

Penalties 60 48

Yards 478 339

* * *

Individual Rushing

DL --

Player NR YG YL Net

Michael Herzog 299 1564 144 1420

Jarret Nosal 138 799 20 779

Stephen Erb 35 237 13 224

Christian Hedstrom 10 112 6 106

Forrest Schleske 7 49 0 49

Casey Paskey 3 35 0 35

Jeff Gailfus 8 26 3 23

Brandon Dahring 5 10 2 8

Michael Herrmann 1 6 0 6

Alex Webber 1 5 0 5

Brandon Hofer 2 1 0 1

Dylan Bremseth 1 0 2 (-2)

* * *

Individual Passing

Player No Comp Inc Int Yds TD

DL --

Herzog 102 47 49 6 970 13

Hedstrom 1 1 0 0 24 1

* * *

Pass Receiving

Player No. Yds. TD

DL --

Kirk McLeod 19 430 6

Derek Long 10 236 1

Stephen Erb 10 203 4

Paskey 3 63 2

Sam Champa 3 41 0

Brandon Dahring 2 21 0

Herrmann 1 24 1

* * *

Kickoffs

Player No. Yds. Ave.

DL --

Christian Tigges 49 2271 46.3

Sam Champa 9 361 40.1

Austin Weber 1 30 30

* * *

Kickoffs Returned

Player No. Yds. Ave.

DL --

Erb 16 377 23.6

Dahring 1 9 9

Alex Webber 1 4 4

McLeod 1 3 3

* * *

Pass Interceptions

Player No. Yds.

DL -

Erb 8 102

Champa 4 74

McLeod 2 72

Herzog 2 5

Bremseth 1 41

* * *

Sacks

Player No. Yds. lost

DL -

Brandon Johnson 2 14

Tyler Gebhart 2 15

Jason Griego 1.5 17

Nick Groth 2 9

Kirby Siewert 1.5 5

Dylan Bremseth 1.5 11

Andrew Brown .5 6

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