Three football coaches in the Metro South district went into last Friday’s games looking for their first victory at their new schools, and two of them got it.
Lakeville South scored 21 consecutive points in the second half in defeating Eagan 35-21 and giving coach Tyler Krebs his first victory in his second game as the Cougars’ head coach. Eagan fell to 0-2 and is 0-9 in Ben Hanson’s tenure as Wildcats head coach.
As the clock ran down in the Lakeville South-Eastview game, there was speculation that the Cougars would douse Krebs with the contents of the water cooler to celebrate their victory. That didn’t happen, and Krebs didn’t mind.
“It’s a great win for our program. It’s not a milestone win for me,” said Krebs, who was Burnsville’s head coach the previous six years. “They can save that for championships. Win some championships, and they can do that. It’s one win, and our goal is to get better in Week 3.”
South and Eagan were tied 14-14 at halftime. The Cougars spent the break watching replays of the first half, looking for things that needed fixing. Krebs said it had more to do with cleaning up small details as opposed to fixing major breakdowns.
“We picked out five or six plays on each side of the ball we wanted to clean up,” Krebs said. “These kids are smart and disciplined. You tell them what to do and they pick it up fast.”
South lost to Edina 34-9 in the first week of the regular season. Penalties and turnover (three fumbles lost) were a problem then, and the Cougars believed they weren’t as aggressive as they needed to be.
That changed against Eagan. “We were a lot more physical and came in with the mindset that we have to execute to win,” senior captain Brady Torborg said. “We executed some things but we didn’t do everything perfectly, and that’s the stuff we still have to work on yet.”
South senior Jeremiah Jacobson scored the game’s first touchdown on a 9-yard run in the first quarter. Just before the quarter ended, Eagan quarterback Kaden Hanson threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Jackson McCullum, then threw to Tate Sundberg for a 2-point conversion that gave the Wildcats their only lead of the game at 8-7.
Jacobson scored on a 16-yard run in the second quarter, putting South back in front 14-8, before Eagan responded with a 2-yard run by Antwann McClenty. The Wildcats’ conversion attempt failed and the game went to halftime tied 14-14.
After getting the second half kickoff, Lakeville South drove for the go-ahead touchdown, finishing the possession with a 12-yard pass from George Brekke to Ben Huddock. Later, a 29-yard pass from Brekke to Torborg put the ball at the Eagan 2, and junior T.J. Nelson carried it in two plays later.
In the fourth quarter, Zach Stelzer ran 45 yards on a fake punt to the Eagan 4, and Nelson scored on the next play. Eagan’s Carter Lyons ran it in from 17 yards with two minutes remaining for his team’s final touchdown.
Brekke, a sophomore, made his first varsity start at quarterback.
“I thought he played great except for one bad throw (which was intercepted),” Krebs said. “He was mature, made plays, commanded the huddle. He’s a smart kid. He’s going to be a good football player.”
Lakeville South, not deep to begin with, had to play without its top two running backs by the second half. Logan Gudmundson missed the entire game because of a knee injury that is expected to keep him out several more weeks. Jacobson had to come out after an ankle injury flared up. In stepped Nelson, who scored South’s final two touchdowns.
“We don’t have a ton of depth and we’re playing against some really good teams,” Krebs said. “We need some guys to step up and we hope those guys get healthy.”
After allowing some big plays by Eagan in the first half, Lakeville South had more success containing the Wildcats in the second half because “we got a lot more pressure,” Torborg said. “Our line got really competitive, really physical, then our outside (line)backers cleaned everything up the line disrupted.”
After being on the road the first two weeks, Lakeville South plays Burnsville (1-1) in its home opener at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 15.