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Lakers run all over Rocori, win big on the road

Gabe Hanninen (5) scored three times in the first half as the Laker offense bombarded Rocori in a season-opening victory on the road in Cold Spring, Thursday, Aug. 30. Robert Williams / Tribune

Detroit Lakes built a 20-0 first quarter lead and put a beatdown on nemesis Rocori 40-19 Thursday, Aug. 30 at William J. Virant Memorial Field in Cold Spring.

“We did exactly what we wanted to do, as far as the game plan,” DL head coach Josh Omang said.

The Lakers rushed for 300 yards in the game getting 211 on 26 carries from junior tailback Isaiah Thompson.

“Isaiah has that rare combo of explosive speed and power,” said Omang. “You can’t bring him down either. He can cut and get back to full speed.”


The DL defense took the field first and forced a three-and-out from the Spartans.

A punt into the wind gave the Lakers the ball on the Rocori 46-yard line. Thompson, Gabe Hanninen and Reed Mace all took handoffs from quarterback Max Gunderson to pound the ball into the end zone in eight plays. Hanninen scored the first of his three touchdowns of the opening half to give DL a 6-0 lead on a 13-yard run.

Hanninen credited the men up front for setting the table for the backfield.

“Our offensive line; they’re all animals,” he said. “They’re dudes. I can’t say enough about those guys.”

DL senior Jake Bettcher intercepted Jack Steil at the Spartan 30 on Rocori’s third down attempt.

Five plays later, Hanninen scored again, this time from a yard out. Braeden Wimmer’s kick was good for a 13-0 cushion with 3:46 left in the first quarter.

Rocori was held to one first down in the opening 12 minutes and punted after three plays on the ensuing drive.

Isaiah Thompson busted a run for 55 yards to get DL back in business on the first play. Gunderson went to the air and scored with an 11-yard pass to Reed Reller. Wimmer’s kick made it 20-0 with a minute left in the opening frame.

Gunderson was solid in his first career start not turning the ball over and running an efficient offense. He was effective in the air when needed, 4-6 passing for 80 yards and three touchdowns.


“This feels great; we knew it was going to be a dogfight and we came out strong,” Gunderson said. “We came out loud and they weren’t expecting that, hit them in the mouth right away and just kept going the whole game and got the win.”

The Lakers were noticeably amped as a unit taking the field, on the sideline the entire game and made even more noise between the lines.

“This whole town might think we’re all psychos, but we’re psychos together,” Hanninen said. “It was awesome tonight.”

The Spartans drove 65 yards to score three minutes into the second quarter on a four-yard run by Matt Koshiol. Steil converted to cut the lead to 20-8.

The teams traded punts before the Laker offense ate up five of the final six minutes of the half as Gunderson led the team on a 12-play, 89-yard drive scoring on a six-yard pass to Hanninen. Caleb Tangen snuffed out a Spartan answer intercepting Steil in the final minute. The Lakers went to half up 27-8.

The teams came out for the second half kick but were forced to wait out a 65-minute lightning delay.

DL needed to sustain a drive after the break and put the game on ice. To do that, Coach Omang called Thompson’s number. He took the ball at the 31 and sprinted 30 yards on the first play. On the next snap he busted for 10 yards, then four. Reed Mace came in and picked up 10 on his first run and four to get inside the Rocori red zone. Hanninen went up the gut for three and Thompson scored from the one to drain any momentum the Spartans could have gained from the weather wait. DL led 33-8 four minutes into the third.

“It was everyone working as a team,” said Gunderson. “Everyone executed, we did our jobs and we won.”

For Omang, he noted that this team showed him something in the preseason and proved it on the field Thursday night.

“This is my 16th year of coaching and that was the best fall camp I’ve ever seen,” he said. “Maybe our old guys have seen better, but I haven’t.”

Rocori drove into Laker territory but had to settle for a Christian Rodriguez 27-yard field goal. The Spartans faced fourth down after DL’s Brady Morris put a huge hit on Steil at the 14 on third down. Morris caused multiple groans from the crowd laying big licks on Spartan ball carriers all game. It transcended to his teammates as the Lakers outhit Rocori in every fashion.

“Brady Morris, he’s not afraid of anyone,” Hanninen said.

“He plays hard and is one of those guys that pursues,” said Omang. “He’s got one speed and on defense we like that.”

Rocori stiffened at midfield forcing a punt by Mace, who drilled a kick into the wind and buried the Spartans at their own five.

A pair of Laker flags and Rocori put back-to-back scores on the board via a one-handed grab by Koshiol on a 15-yard pass from Steil to trail 33-17.

Gunderson answered quickly with a perfectly-thrown 35-yard strike to Sully Wood on the hands; he scored untouched. Wimmer’s kick was good to put DL up 40-17.


Reller made an interception inside his own five late in the game. The Lakers gave up a safety by snapping the ball out of the end zone on fourth down for the 40-19 final.

“It was awesome to come out here and put scores up on them right away,” Hanninen said. “We’re not satisfied though, we’ve got Perham next week and that’ll be a fun game.”

Coach Omang talked about explosive plays and the turnover battle as keys to victory last week. The Lakers had all the explosives and none of the turnovers, right out of the game plan.

DL hosts Perham in the opener at Mollberg Field Friday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m.

DL 20 7 6 7 — 40

RO  0 8 3 8 — 19

First quarter

DL — Gabe Hanninen 13 run (kick blocked)

DL — Hanninen 1 run (Braeden Wimmer kick)

DL — Reed Reller 11 pass from Max Gunderson (Wimmer kick)

Second quarter

R — Matt Koshiol 4 run (Jack Steil run)

D — Hanninen 6 pass from Gunderson (Wimmer kick)

Third quarter

DL — Isaiah Thompson 1 run (kick failed)

R — Christian Rodriguez 27 field goal

Fourth quarter

RO — Koshiol 15 pass from Steil

DL — Sully Wood 35 pass from Gunderson (Wimmer kick)

RO — Safety

Robert Williams

Sports Editor at the Detroit Lakes Tribune. Williams worked prior as the Sports Editor in Perham for the Focus, a Forum Communications newspaper, from 2010-14. 

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