Head coach Josh Omang opened up the playbook and the No. 8-4A Detroit Lakes Lakers scored frequently in both halves of a 48-6 victory over Park Rapids Area at Vern Weekly Field Friday, Sept. 6.
"We wanted to work on our spread and no matter what happened we were going to stick to it," Omang said. "That's one of the growth areas we have talked about as a staff since last year and that's the challenge to stick to that plan. We know it's going to pay off in the end and it was good. You have to practice it in a game to be better at it. I was really proud of our guys, especially our line. That was my number one goal for the week, manage the blitz. We did that with a lot of different fronts and a lot of different players."
It took most of the first quarter to get some length of field to work with as the DL defense tipped the field in the Lakers' favor quickly and often.
The defense kept Park Rapids on its own half of midfield on the opening drive forcing a punt which was never kicked due to a bad snap that was smothered by DL senior Caleb Tangen putting the Lakers in business at the Panther 35-yard line. Three plays later, Gunderson found Reed Mace wide open for a 10-yard touchdown reception and Braeden Wimmer's first of six extra points put DL up 7-0 with seven-minutes, seven-seconds to play in the first quarter.
Mace set up the Lakers' second score with a 41-yard interception return of a Jens Anderson pass reaching the Panther 20-yard line. On the ensuing play, Isaiah Thompson scored for a 14-0 lead at 4:57.
After a three-and-out from Park Rapids and a punt return to the Panther 36-yard line, Thompson rushed for 16 and eight yards, then 12 more to the end zone at the 2:49 mark of the first quarter and a 21-0 lead.
Omang could have run Mace and Thompson up the gut for big chunks of yardage all game, but DL put in some work on the spread offense as the game wore on. DL's head coach wants a multi-dimensional attack for the postseason, not just a team trying to run down the opponent's throats.
"It's hard to do that but we still want to make teams pay when they put guys up in the box," said Omang. "We need to develop more options and ways to do that."
Park Rapids responded with its only scoring drive of the game. The Panthers converted a fourth-and-four inside their own 30-yard line with a fake punt and proceeded to take 11 minutes off the clock with an 18-play, 80-yard drive culminating in a Jeff Haas three-yard touchdown reception from Anderson. Andrew Annette snuffed out the point-after kick, his second PAT block in as many games.
Gunderson and the Laker offense had 2:31 left on the second quarter clock; DL's only possession of the quarter. The Lakers moved 60 yards on five plays, a Thompson nine-yard run, a Gunderson 11-yard run, Thompson again for a dozen yards, a 12-yard pass to Reed Benson and a 15-yard scoring strike to Jacob Kalina to run out the half with a 27-6 lead.
DL's Jacob Kalina 15 yard touchdown reception from Max Gunderson in the final minute of the half. (kick blocked)— Robert Williams (@DLakesSports) September 7, 2019
Lakers 27, Panthers 6 - Halftime pic.twitter.com/64sc8LWdp3
Taking the second half kickoff, DL scored in four plays ending in a 63-yard connection between Gunderson and Mace for a 34-6 lead.
After forcing a punt, Mace had a 52-yard punt return to the end zone called back on a holding call but it came late in the play setting the offense up at the Park Rapids' 18-yard line. Five plays later, Jake Green scored untouched from a yard out and the Lakers led 41-6.
Jake Green from a yard out.— Robert Williams (@DLakesSports) September 7, 2019
Lakers 41, Panthers 6. 3:13, 3rd quarter.
Running time will begin at the start of the fourth if Park Rapids doesn't score. pic.twitter.com/TAvuI2umCz
DL's second unit added the final touchdown on a 13-play, 77-yard drive. The Panthers muffed a punt four plays into the drive giving DL the ball back at the Park Rapids 43. Christian Solberg took over from there with a pair of 12-yard runs and nice four-yard touchdown scamper after breaking two tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Gunderson was 7-8 passing for 132 yards and three touchdowns.
Mace had 88 of those receiving yards and two scores.
Thompson rushed eight times for 72 yards and two touchdowns.
The Panthers had some success with the passing game. Anderson and Haas connected four times for 40 yards and the touchdown on Park Rapids' only scoring drive.
"We need to work on competing for the ball in the secondary; I'm talking the 50/50 balls," said Omang. "We're going to spend some more time on that. In big games, those are big plays - the 50/50 play - so we've got to get better at that."
Park Rapids dropped to 0-2 heading to Perham in week three to face the 2-0 Yellowjackets.
Detroit Lakes (2-0) travels to 0-2 Thief River Falls. The Prowlers were thumped at Perham 61-7. In two games, Thief River Falls has been outscored 123-7.
Detroit Lakes 48, Park Rapids 6.
DL 21 6 14 7 - 48
PR 0 6 0 0 - 6
DL -7:07 Reed Mace 10 pass from Max Gunderson (Braeden Wimmer kick)
DL - 4:57 Isaiah Thompson 20 run (Wimmer kick)
DL - 2:08 Thompson 12 run (Wimmer kick)
PR - 2:31 Jeff Haas 3 pass from Jens Anderson (Kick blocked)
DL - 0:28 Jacob Kalina 15 pass from Gunderson (kick blocked)
DL - 9:47 Mace 63 touchdown pass from Gunderson (Wimmer kick)
DL - 3:13 Jake Green 1 run (Wimmer kick)
DL - 0:25 Christian Solberg 4 run (Wimmer kick)