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Lakers to face 2nd North Dakota state champion

LAKER QB JOE MOLLBERG is hit on the line by Shanley's Stefan Webber and Preston Nichols during Friday's season opener for Detroit Lakes on Mollberg Field.1 / 2
CONNOR MCLEOD returns a second-half interception of Shanley quarterback Myles Montplaisir Friday on Mollberg Field.2 / 2

The Detroit Lakes football team may feel it has entered the North Dakota state playoffs after facing two of the state's champions in the first two weeks of the season.

Round one went to North Dakota, as Shanley pulled off a last-play shocker, winning 23-21 on the game's last play Friday on Mollberg Field.

Now, round two will feature North Dakota's Class 3A champion Bismarck, which is comparable in size to Minnesota's Class 5A schools.

But Bismarck's enrollment isn't just big, the team literally brings some huge size, as well.

"They are a big and physical team," said DL head coach Flint Motschenbacher. "They are an I-formation rushing team and they'll do what they can to stay with the run and mix in some play action, as well."

Across the offensive and defensive fronts, Bismarck averages around the 260-pound mark, which affords them to be able to rush the ball, as well as stop it.

But the Lakers do have the ability to counter the big defensive line with an effective aerial attack, led by junior quarterback Joe Mollberg.

With Shanley taking away the inside rushing attack of the Lakers, Mollberg rushed the ball 26 times for 91 yards.

But he also flashed what his arm can do, after hitting Brian Labat on a 46-yard touchdown against Shanley.

"We'll look to our passing game against Bismarck," Motschenbacher said.

Mollberg finished with 103 yards on a 7-10 outing Friday.

The biggest concern the Lakers will need to clean up will be putting the ball on the ground.

DL had a total of five fumbles in the first half alone against Shanley and lost two of them -- including a snap over the head of the punter.

But those are correctable mistakes, Motschenbacher added.

"We'll need to fix that," he said. "But to the credit of the kids, they kept battling back."

Bismarck is 1-1 on the season, with a win over Fargo Davies and a narrow loss to traditionally tough West Fargo.

The Lakers (0-1) will be looking for a few more explosive plays by their offense and another consistent outing by their defense.

DL's defense held a potent Shanley offense in check for most of the game, limiting Deacon senior quarterback Myles Montplaisir to 132 yards passing and going 12-27, including an interception by secondary player Connor McLeod.

DL also limited the Deacons to 111 yards rushing, for an average per carry mark of 3.8.

"We'll need to correct our mistakes we made against Shanley, play our game and control the ball," Motschenbacher said. "Playing an early competitive schedule like we are definitely helps us, because we want to get back to that level of play. The key is to make it through healthy."

Kickoff is scheduled at 7 p.m. in the Community Bowl Complex, which is field turf.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.