Screaming Eagles flying high at 4-0
FRAZEE - Nicknames need to be deserved, and the Lakes Area Screaming Eagle defense has earned that honor.
After yet another dominating performance Saturday, to aid the Screaming Eagles to an unscathed 4-0 record with a 33-7 victory over visiting Duluth-Superior, the "Black Swarm" is a properly dubbed nickname for the Lakes Area defense.
"Our defense has been stellar all year," said Eagles head coach and starting quarterback Jason McCloskey. "We moved some people around for the game, and it paid off."
Paid off, in the form of 147 total yards by the Shoremen offense and two interceptions -- one taken back for a touchdown.
The swarming defense again smothered any semblance of a ground game for the Shoremen, who struggled finding holes to gain a paltry 75 yards rushing.
Except for one hiccup -- a 47-yard touchdown bomb by quarterback Hollis Dukes to tight end Josh Gosar on D-S's first series of the game -- the "Black Swarm" didn't allow much.
"We moved Dave Olson from linebacker to defensive end and he has just created havoc over there," McCloskey said. "All of our linebackers (Nick Kiphuth, Billy Quistorf and Quincy Jones) are flying around and making plays. They were able to corral their quarterback (Dukes), who can fly and run."
After Dukes' long pass put the Shoremen up 7-0, the Screaming Eagles marched down to the D-S four, before stalling once again in the red zone on fourth and goal -- this time on the one-yard line, on a McCloskey pass to James Singer.
If there's been one red flag to the Eagles' season, it has come in the red zone, McCloskey said.
"We are learning as an offense yet in the red zone," McCloskey said. "We need to learn to capitalize in the red zone. I just have to be less conservative there and start taking more shots in the end zone."
But it's not like the red zone has been a detriment to the Screaming Eagles.
The team marched down on their third series, and running back Kyler Wegner capped the drive on an 11-yard run over right end.
On the first series of the second quarter, McCloskey converted a touchdown in the red zone with a 10-yard zip to Jake Lindsey, who was camped in the middle of the end zone and the Shoremen offense.
Duluth-Superior gift-wrapped Lakes Area's third score with a bad snap over the punter's head, leading to a James Olson bulldozing TD from the one for the 18-7 halftime advantage.
"I thought we should have been up by more, because we were in control for the most part, but our offense sputtered some in the first half," McCloskey said.
The game was put away with a 15-point fourth quarter, which included the defense scoring eight points -- including a Lindsey 35-yard interception for a TD and a Casey Gibson safety.
Dave Moll once again paced the rushing attack and the chain-moving company with 97 yards, while the Screaming Eagle offensive line helped eat the clock by leading the offense to 17 first downs.
McCloskey was efficient, passing 12-23 for 146 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
Kiphuth led the way defensively with two sacks and nine tackles, while Quistorf added a sack, along with Olson.
The victory leads up to the Screaming Eagles' biggest game of their short history, when they host the undefeated South Metro Dragons Saturday, starting at 3 p.m.
The victor will stand alone atop of the Northern Power Football League, and have an inside track for the top seed in the playoffs.
It's the first of two games between the teams, with Lakes Area traveling to South Metro July 12.
"Right now, we are the top two teams in the area," McCloskey added. "It's one of those games you want to win, but if you do happen to lose, you want to keep it close and learn from it."
Lakes Area results
Duluth-Superior at Lakes Area in Frazee, Saturday, May 30.
Screaming Eagles 33, Shoremen 7
Duluth - 7 0 0 0 -- 7
Lakes Area - 6 12 0 15 -- 33
Dul - Josh Gosar 47-yard pass from Gavin Robinson; Ryan Rodriguez kick.
LA - Kyler Wegner 11-yard run; kick failed.
LA - Jake Lindsey 10-yard pass from Jason McCloskey; kick failed.
LA - James Olson 1-yard run; PAT failed.
LA - Lindsey 35-yard interception return; PAT failed.
LA - Olson 10-yard run; Todd White kick.
LA - Casey Gibson safety.