Lakers drop shootout to Shanley
FARGO - For the first time in the history of Shanley High School, the Deacons felt what it was like to have home field advantage.
After Friday's hard-fought 35-26 victory over the visiting Detroit Lakes Lakers in the Cichy Stadium inaugural game on their first-ever field -- the Deacons liked that home cooking.
"We came in and we wanted to win so bad, we were not going to be denied this win on this field," said Shanley quarterback Myles Montplaisir, who accounted for two touchdowns and all five extra points.
For the young Lakers, it was a lesson learned for the many first-timer varsity players, who had to dig out from an early 14-0 deficit to start the game.
But the good news is that's exactly what they did by pulling to within 21-14 by halftime.
"That wasn't the start we were hoping for and one of the worst ways we could have started," said DL head coach Flint Motschenbacher. "We had a lot of first game mistakes, but the kids worked hard and came back."
It was a nice debut for junior running back Logan Baker, who busted off two long runs to key his 175 yards rushing on 14 carries.
He recorded 137 yards in the first half alone, with the majority coming on back-to-back runs of 61 and 55 yards -- the former which revved up the Laker offense, which was playing catch up from a 14-0 hole.
Shanley came out on the first drive with a no-huddle offense and it knocked the Lakers back on their heels early and resulted in a six-play, 80-yard touchdown drive.
Deacon running back Stefan Webber ripped off runs of 21 and 12 yards to start the drive and capped it with a 31-yard around left end.
Webber was able to break through the second level and into the secondary, which he was able to cut back on the safeties and run unimpeded past the pylons.
"You have to give them credit for that first good drive," Motschenbacher said.
Shanley head coach Steve Laqua said his team had success with the no huddle at the tail end of last season and already had a game in this season, while the Lakers were just opening theirs.
"The kids play the no huddle well," Laqua said. "It also helped us in two ways -- one, it helped keep our kids focused from all the distractions of this being the first game on this field.
"And two, this was DL's first game and our second, so we saw a window of opportunity there."
The Deacons also received their first home-field bounce on the ensuing kickoff, when a short kickoff was muffed by the Lakers and recovered by Shanley.
Two plays later, Montplaisir ran a keeper through right tackle and wasn't touched as he split the Laker defense for a 20-yard TD run.
"We just wanted to come out and put the pedal to the metal and hit them in the teeth early," said Montplaisir, who finished with a team-high 85 yards rushing and 139 passing, including going 9-12 with no interceptions.
Even though there were a lot of first-time players on varsity for the Lakers, they regrouped quickly in the form of Baker's 61-yard end zone scamper down the left sideline with 1:38 remaining in the first quarter.
Baker basically went untouched after sophomore quarterback Joe Mollberg handed the ball off at the last second in the veer option offense, as the Deacon defenders were not quite sure who had the ball until it was too late.
But Shanley answered right back in the form of a 13-play, 48-yard drive, which was started by a 48-yard kickoff return by Josh Rodenbiker.
The Laker defense made Montplaisir and the Deacons work for it, forcing a fourth and one, in which they converted, but ending on a 14-yard TD toss by the quarterback to Rodenbiker for the 21-6 lead.
Baker used another long run down the DL sideline on the first play of the ensuing drive for 55 yards, as Mollberg found junior wide receiver Josh Stalberger on a fly pattern and in the back of the end zone with a tight spiral loft pass for a 23-yard strike.
"I was actually pretty happy to get into halftime with the lead," Laqua said of DL's newfound momentum in the first half, which included a goal line stand in the second quarter.
The Lakers kept it coming, using a Shanley fumble on their own 32 to pull to within 21-20 after an Alex Mason two-yard dive for six points.
Shanley did block two DL extra-point kicks, as the Lakers only converted one of four of their PAT's.
Again, Montplaisir directed another key drive to answer a Laker score, this one ending on a 15-yard run by Tyler Rivard for the 28-20 edge.
Montplaisir completed three passes in the series for 38 yards to key the drive.
"We were able to run the ball effectively and they started to play the run more, so it opened up," Montplaisir said.
Another Shanley fumble on their 14, ended with Mollberg taking six from two yards out to pull DL to 28-26.
But Shanley was ready with another answer, this on a five-play drive, keyed by a Montplaisir 33-yard run and ending on Rodenbiker's 14-yard touchdown rush.
The game was essentially sealed after defense end Josh Wolf hit Mollberg during his passing motion, which led to Rivard picking the pass off with under four minutes to go in the game.
The win was nice on the new field turf of Cichy Field, Laqua added.
"It's nice to have a place to call home and start building a tradition here," the Shanley coach said.
Mollberg had a respectable debut as DL's quarterback, going 6-17 for 91 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
There was plenty of offense, as Shanley compiled 419 yards to DL's 328.
The Lakers (0-1) will have their home opener Friday against Class 5A's Robbinsdale-Armstrong at Mollberg Field starting at 7 p.m.