Quarterback Matthew Tobkin came into last year’s season opener off the bench late to lead Detroit Lakes to a one-point victory over Willmar. At the command of the Laker offense as a starter this year, he and the Lakers unloaded on Thief River Falls and the defense allowed nothing to the Prowlers in a 55-0 blowout victory at Mollberg Field Friday, Oct. 9.
With a delay to the start of the season, a short bit of practice and no official scrimmages, along with a lot of new faces in the lineup after graduating 21 seniors, it was unknown to the players or fans what to expect from this team.
“For me, personally, it was up in the air,” said Tobkin. “I don’t know how the rest of the team felt, but I was unsure and I didn’t know what was going to happen.”
The only big mistake made by DL came on the opening kickoff when the ball was fumbled away giving the Prowlers a big chance to score early from the Laker 25-yard line.
The visitor’s opening drive consisted of three incomplete passes and a loss of three yards to give the ball right back to DL on downs.
From there, the Lakers scored every time they touched the ball in the first half.
Caeden Yliniemi gained 22 yards on the season’s opening play. Jake Green added a 13-yard rush and a follow-up sprint to the end zone from 37 yards out for an 8-0 lead less than two minutes into the game.
The point after snap was bobbled and holder Bradly Swiers, the backup quarterback, grabbed the ball and sent a perfect pass over Prowler defenders to James Taylor in the end zone for the deuce.
Scoring quickly and early had momentum and confidence running through the Laker huddle.
“Everyone was in the groove and playing hard,” said Tobkin. “We all believed in each other and we all think that we can be a really good football team.”
Thief River Falls got a first down on a penalty but were quickly turned over again on downs at the DL 30.
The Lakers marched 70 yards on nine plays ending in a four-yard touchdown run by Christian Solberg and Braeden Wimmer’s kick made the score 15-0.
After a Prowler three-and-out, DL scored again on a three-play, 62-yard drive. Tobkin found Jacob Kalina on a nice touch pass 36 yards down the home sideline. Green ran for seven yards and Yliniemi took a handoff from Tobkin on the end around to score from 36 yards out to lead 22-0 with 61 seconds left in the first quarter.
Both aspects of the offense looked good behind a line that controlled the Prowler defense allowing the Lakers to rush for 403 total yards. DL threw for 140 total yards. Tobkin was 6-6 to start the game for 120 yards and ended with three incompletions and a touchdown. Swiers connected on three of five for 20 yards.
“They played really well; they got good push,” said Tobkin. “We still have work to do, of course. First game with no prep, no real game prep or scrimmages, it looked real good. I liked it. It was fun.”
The Lakers scored three more times in the second quarter while holding the Prowlers to two first downs in the half.
Green capped a 7-play, 87-yard drive with a three-yard touchdown run. DL picked up big chunks of yardage, the biggest being a 38-yard pass from Tobkin to Ty Jones to start the drive. The Lakers led 29-0.
The next drive was two plays for 63 yards, all coming on a Solberg sprint down the home sideline to the end zone and Wimmer’s kick for a 36-0 lead.
DL moved 57 yards on five plays, the big one being a 25-yard run by Ethan Carrier to set up a six-yard scoring pass from Tobkin to Taylor to send DL to the halftime break up 43-0.
“We haven’t really relied on the pass as much the past two years, but the pass looked and felt good tonight,” Tobkin said. “I’m excited.”
Swiers started the second half under center and continued DL’s success and scoring streak with a 16-play drive of runs by Cade Okeson, Carrier and Brock Okeson leading to his one-yard plunge for the only score of a short third quarter with running time on the clock.
Josh Mack capped a nine-play drive with a one-yard touchdown for the lone fourth quarter score.
Green and Solberg had nearly half of DL’s 400 rushing yards. Green was 9-93; Solberg 6-98 and both scored twice. Yliniemi (3-40), Carrier (6-64) and Grady Kirchner (3-38) all rushed with an average of 10 or more yards per carry.
Jones led the receiving corp with two grabs for 54 yards.
DL could have scored on a final drive, but took a knee at the 10 with the clock winding down.
The Lakers (1-0) will travel to East Grand Forks for a day game at 1:30 p.m. on the turf Thursday, Oct. 15. The Green Wave lost at Fergus Falls 14-12.
Detroit Lakes 55, Thief River Falls 0
TRF 0 0 0 0 - 0
DL 22 21 6 6 - 55
DL - Jake Green 37 run (James Taylor pass from Bradly Swiers pass)
DL - Christian Solberg 4 run (Braeden Wimmer kick)
DL - Caeden Yliniemi 19 run (Wimmer kick)
DL - Green 3 run (Wimmer kick)
DL - Solberg 63 run (Wimmer kick)
DL - James Taylor 6 pass from Matt Tobkin (Wimmer kick)
DL - Brock Okeson 1 run (pass failed)
DL - Josh Mack 1 run (kick failed)