Lakeville’s high school football teams put up flashy offensive numbers in the opening week of the regular season. Now the question is, can they do it again this week against each other?
Lakeville North gained 447 yards in a 42-13 victory at Eastview on Sept. 1. The Panthers kicked it into gear in the second half, scoring four touchdowns to take control of a game that had been close.
Meanwhile, Lakeville South trailed less than two minutes into its home opener against Park of Cottage Grove – but that didn’t last long. The Cougars put up 32 points before the first quarter was over and went on to win 69-14, the 22nd consecutive victory for the defending state Class 6A champions.
At 7 p.m. Friday, the Panthers and Cougars face off at Lakeville South High School. Lakeville South has won the last three games in the intracity series, with North’s last victory coming in the 2018 Class 6A semifinals. The Panthers won the state title that year, meaning both North and South, despite being two of the smallest schools in the state’s biggest enrollment class, have won championships in the last five years.
As always, the game is for city bragging rights. It also could affect playoff seedings for Class 6A in October and November. And it’s not out of the question for them to see each other again in the postseason.
Lakeville North 42
The Panthers didn’t take the lead until the second half, then put some distance between themselves and Eastview with three third-quarter scores.
“Eastview came out and battled hard. It was 14-7 at halftime, and we went ahead late in the second quarter,” Lakeville North coach Brian Vossen said. “But it was just one of those deals where we felt like, let’s get the nerves out. We knew we had a young and in some places inexperienced team that just needs to get comfortable with their roles and the pace of playing (varsity) football. We have a tough challenge (this) week, so hopefully we learn from it and get better and better.”
Sophomore Riley Grossman, who became the Panthers’ starting quarterback late in the 2021 season, passed for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Junior running back Sawyer Wilkie gained 159 yards on 23 carries and scored three times. Sam Ripplinger rushed for 83 yards. Sam Nolan had touchdown catches of 23 and 57 yards and finished with four receptions for 137 yards.
Sophomore defensive back Ayden Forsgren had six tackles for North, and senior Monroe Jackson had five tackles and an interception.
The Panthers showed Vossen most of what he wanted to see in the first game of the season. They used a lot of players – a necessity because of the heat – and got some work for a big but still-learning offensive line.
“Our line has a lot to learn, and the whole thing is, can we have them rolling by Week 9?” Vossen said, referring to the opening round of the playoffs. “I thought tonight they played really well. We had a lot of bodies rotating in on both sides of the line, and the kids handled all of it really well.”
Eastview drove for the game’s first score, with junior running back Damon Green scoring from 7 yards out. But the Lightning didn’t reach the end zone again until the fourth quarter when quarterback Grayson Osberg scored on a 4-yard run.
Eastview plays at Woodbury at 7 p.m. Friday. Woodbury reached the Class 6A quarterfinals last season and defeated Champlin Park 21-7 in its 2022 season opener.
Lakeville South 69
Park of Cottage Grove 14
After allowing a 68-yard touchdown pass in the opening minutes of the game, the Cougars got down to business. As has been their blueprint the last several years, they kept the ball mainly on the ground using a variety of running backs, all of whom were effective. Seven Lakeville South players rushed for 30 or more yards, with senior Carson Hansen leading the way with 112 yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns.
Hansen scored Lakeville South’s first two touchdowns on runs of 29 and 23 yards. He then caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Royse as the Cougars made it 22-7.
Linebacker Charlie Hayes tackled a Park ball carrier in the end zone for a safety, and Jay Winters scored on a 43-yard run with 30 seconds left in the first quarter.
The barrage continued with touchdown runs by Hansen, Winters, Devan Hendricks and Gabe Jacobson, and a 43-yard field goal by Leighton Keilen. Royse, making his first start at quarterback, threw only two passes but both went for touchdowns. In addition to the first-quarter pass to Hansen, Royse completed a 16-yard throw to Zachary Steinhagen in the second quarter.
South defensive end Joe Hager led the team with seven tackles and recovered a fumble.
Friday’s game against Lakeville North is part of a challenging stretch for Lakeville South, which then faces Eden Prairie, Farmington, Rosemount, Prior Lake and Shakopee before closing the regular season against a rebuilding Hopkins team.