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Football: Strand notches first win at quarterback in Detroit Lakes' comeback win over Thief River Falls

Detroit Lakes sophomore Caden Strand was given the nod at quarterback and didn't miss his chance to succeed. He three for two touchdowns and ran for one more in the the Lakers' (3-0) 28-14 win over Thief River Falls (0-3).

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Detroit Lakes' Charlie Kalina (3) and Caden Strand celebrate their first of two touchdown connections in the Lakers' 28-14 win over Thief River Falls on Sept. 16, 2022.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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THIEF RIVER FALLS – Rarely will an undefeated team line up a new quarterback under center.

After starting the season 2-0, the Detroit Lakes football team turned to Caden Strand to start under center on Friday in a 28-14 win against Thief River Falls (0-3). Despite a slow start, he showed the Laker faithful that he has all the tools to succeed at the varsity level.

“I found out when we got here. We found out who was starting during warmups,” Strand said. “The first time I got in during the first game, the nerves struck me. I think that helped me get settled in here. I just came out here, and I played my heart out.”

The Lakers trailed 6-0 with a pair of empty drives before Strand led an offensive charge down the field before connecting with Charlie Kalina on a 27-yard touchdown pass. Nick Bubotlz’s extra point gave the Lakers its first lead of the game with 5:45 left in the second quarter.

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Detroit Lakes' Caden Strand throws a deep ball in the Lakers' 28-14 win over Thief River Falls on Sept. 16, 2022.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Detroit Lakes forced a punt to get the ball back on its own 20-yard line with 1:53 left without any timeouts. Strand led the offense downfield again, connecting with Mason Carrier for a long gain before finding Kalina in the end zone from 21-yards out. The Lakers drove 80 yards in 1:43 to take a 14-6 lead at the half.

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“That two-minute drill might’ve been good for him because he wasn’t thinking. He’s just playing and reacting,” Detroit Lakes’ assistant coach and offensive coordinator Vern Schnathorst said. “He did a great job on that. He made a lot of really good plays on that drive.”

“We do a two-minute drill a lot in practice,” Strand said. “It’s our conditioning, and we just push ourselves. I have trust in all of the receivers. Before practice starts, we go out there and throw. We work on that chemistry a lot.”

Strand had more big plays in him before the night was over. He broke off a 51-yard touchdown run on the second play in the third quarter to put the Lakers ahead by two scores. He trailed Connor Zamzo and Ethan Carrier for an effortless touchdown run.

“I saw Connor Zamzo destroy a kid, and I just ran right behind him,” Strand said. “I made one move on a kid, and it was easy from there because of the guys in front of me. Those plays don’t happen without blocking like that.”

The Lakers scored again midway through the third quarter. Ethan Carrier broke off a seven-yard touchdown run. Bubotlz nailed his fourth extra point to put Detroit Lakes ahead 28-6.

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Detroit Lakes' Charlie Zok tackles a phantom ball carrier in the Lakers' 28-14 win over Thief River Falls on Sept. 16, 2022.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Offensively, the Lakers found a rhythm with Strand under center as the game continued. The decision to shift from junior Mason Carrier, who had five combined throwing and rushing touchdowns in the first two games, was in the works before Friday night.

“That goes all the way back to the summer,” Schnathorst said of the decision to start Strand at quarterback. “We gave kids equal reps. He probably wasn’t quite ready for game one. We wanted to do this last week, but he had a slight injury. That’s been in the works and something we’ve been working on in practice.”

“Mason (Carrier) does a good job at quarterback. We just feel that Caden is a good thrower, which allows us to put Mason in multiple positions on the offensive side of the ball. We want to use (Carrier) like we used Christian Solberg last year. It puts pressure on the defense and allows Mason to play more on defense. Caden has been getting better every week. We needed him to get in there and give him an opportunity. That’s the only way he’s going to get better. He’s young. So there are things to fix, but he did some things really well tonight.”

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The Lakers punted twice before Strand led the offense to four consecutive scoring drives.

“My teammates worked with me and comforted me,” Stand said. “They helped me work through the struggles early, and we came out with a win. It was the juice they brought. Everybody kept their confidence and pushed through it.”

Thief River Falls’ triple option posed problems on the defensive side of the ball. The Prowlers marched down the field to take a 6-0 late in the first quarter.

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Detroit Lakes' Cade Jackson (4) and Cooper Moore (24) wait for the snap in the Lakers' 28-14 win over Thief River Falls on Sept. 16, 2022.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

“They ran that offense with a lot of deception and misdirection, and our kids weren’t being disciplined,” Schnathorst said. “When you play an offense like that, no matter how you simulate it with your scout team, (TRF) is going to be a lot better at it. Once we got in on the speed of what we were doing, we did a nice job.”

In the final minute, TRF’s Griffin Lundeen scored his second touchdown of the game against the Lakers’ second-team defense. However, after a second straight week with a sluggish start defensively, the Lakers are hoping to change the tide early on when they take on Perham next week.

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Detroit Lakes' Tyson Ullyott wraps up a ball carrier in the Lakers' 28-14 win over Thief River Falls on Sept. 16, 2022.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

“The thing we need to correct is being ready to go,” Schnathorst said. “We are kind of playing like we’re practicing. We have a lot of talented kids and nice kids. We’re still looking for kids to step up and drive the car, so to speak. We need kids to go out there and set the tone from an energy standpoint early in the game. Hopefully, we took steps towards getting that. We need to be better at coming ready to play from the first snap.”

For Strand, his night of firsts is in the books, with many more to come.

“I love it,” Strand said on getting his first win at quarterback. “I’ve never felt this before tonight. I can see why people love the Friday night lights. It’s pretty special out here.”

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Jeffrey Moen update

Following Friday’s game, senior defensive tackle Jeffrey Moen was stretchered off the sideline into an ambulance. Head coach Reed Hefta went with Moen in the ambulance to the hospital. Hefta told the Detroit Lakes Tribune that he was released later on Friday night and all signs are pointing in the right direction.

DETROIT LAKES  0 14 14 0 – 28

THIEF RIVER FALLS  6 0 0 8 – 14

SCORING- FIRST QUARTER- TRF- Griffin Lundeen 1-yard TD run, PAT blocked, 6-0, 0:27

SECOND QUARTER- DL- Caden Strand 27-yard TD pass to Charlie Kalina, Nick Buboltz PAT good, 7-6, 5:45; DL- Strand 21-yard TD pass to Kalina, Buboltz PAT good, 14-6, 0:11

THIRD QUARTER- DL- Strand 51-yard TD run, Buboltz PAT good, 21-6, 11:07; DL- Ethan Carrier 8-yard TD run, Buboltz’s PAT good, 28-6, 5:35

FOURTH QUARTER- TRF- Lundeen 6-yard TD run, Jake Friedrich two-point conversion run good, 28-14, 0:46

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Detroit Lakes' Caden Strand rolls out of the pocket in the Lakers' 28-14 win over Thief River Falls on Sept. 16, 2022.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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