In an effort to keep his player’s focused, Lakeville South football coach Ben Burk asks his team what the score is during halftime, expecting to hear “zero-zero” as the slogan for staying attentive to each play.
The Cougars were reminding themselves early and often of their motto during Friday’s Class 6A semifinal game at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Lakeville South scored twice on its first three plays and never looked back in a 40-14 win against St. Michael-Albertville. Junior Carson Hansen ran for 201 yards and totaled four touchdowns for the Cougars.
“I just think we keep doing what we do,” said senior quarterback Camden Dean, who threw for two touchdowns. “We’ve been up 14-0 quick early in many games and there were a couple of games where they came back and tied it up before half. So, our message is the same, keep doing what we do.”
Top-ranked Lakeville South advanced to the finals next week against Maple Grove, which beat Eden Prairie 35-3 to reach the title game.
The Cougars and Knights faced off in the section finals last season, with Lakeville South winning 14-13 on a touchdown run with 21 seconds left.
Any suspense on Friday ended early due to St. Michael-Albertville’s turnovers.
The Knights were running the ball enough to move the chains on their first possession until they were faced with a fourth-and-1 at their own 38-yard line.
St. Michael-Albertville fumbled on the fourth-down attempt and it was recovered by Lakeville South. The Knights fumbled on each of their first four possessions, losing three of them.
“It’s not part of the recipe,” St. Michael-Albertville coach Jared Essler said. “They’re a good team and the nature of the way they play, the ball kind of moves. We were hoping to limit possessions and they had too many of them.”
Two plays after the first fumble, Hansen ran for a 38-yard touchdown to open the scoring. Hansen capped the second fumble recovery with a 31-yard touchdown run on the first play of the drive.
The Cougars led 14-0 after three offensive plays in which they had the ball for just 43 seconds.
“We never wanted to let off the gas at any point,” Lakeville South senior Zachary Juckel said.
Dean, perhaps, surprised St. Michael-Albertville on Lakeville South’s next two drives. Dean capped a seven-play, 79-yard drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Chase Androff. Dean and Hansen combined on a 34-yard touchdown pass to make it 27-0 before halftime.
Blessed with another big halftime lead, Burk said he doesn’t have to do much to keep the Cougars focused as the score gets out of hand for opponents.
“I don’t need to, man, they’re locked in,” Burk said. “The only thing that I tell them is at halftime is ask them what the score is. … Our thing is we talk to our kids all the time about controlling what they can control. The score they don’t control. They control their attitude and their effort on every play, every rep.”
Hansen added his fourth touchdown on a 47-yard run in the third quarter to make it 40-0.
“He’s one heck of a player and it really says a lot about him, when he scores a touchdown, he comes to the bench and the first people he thanks is his O-line,” Androff said.
The score is 0-0 again for Lakeville South, which will try to win its first state championship since Lakeville split into two schools in 2005.