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Slow start, early mistakes hurt Lakers in EP loss

By Taylor Smith, 09/22/17, 8:15AM CDT


Despite giving up 14 early points, the Lakers fought to stay in the game against the best, giving them momentum heading into their matchup with third-ranked Minnetonka.

Week 3 Recap: Eden Prairie

The top-ranked Eden Prairie Eagles used back-to-back three-and-outs on the opening two possessions, one which included a turnover on downs on a bad snap, to get good field position and score a pair of early touchdowns as the Eagles beat the Prior Lake Lakers 24-0 Sept. 15 at Dan Patch Stadium.

After Prior Lake couldn’t muster any offense on the first three plays of the game, the Lakers lined up in punt formation but the snap could not be fielded by punter Blake Ochsendorf and he was tackled at the 6-yard line, giving the Eagles their first possession already inside the Laker 10.

Eden Prairie scored a few plays later on an 8-yard pass from quarterback Cole Kramer to Felipe Izumi, who usually is a defensive end for the Eagles but was in at tight end on the play.

The next Laker possession was similar to their first, three plays and a punt, allowing Eden Prairie to start its drive at midfield.

The Eagles then put together a multi-play drive, capped off by a lucky break.

With the ball on the Laker 1-yard line, Kramer dropped the snap but the ball bounced right to running back Antonio Montero who took it into the end zone, making it 14-0 Eden Prairie less than seven minutes into the game.

“You can’t spot a good team 14 points,” Prior Lake head coach Matt Gegenheimer said. “Eden Prairie wins a lot of football games because they are very disciplined and they take advantage of other teams’ mishaps.”

It looked as if the Eagles may take an even larger lead early in the second quarter, with the ball on the Prior Lake 13-yard line.

However, the Laker defense forced a turnover, a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Noah Benson.

The momentum immediately flipped as the Lakers drove down the field, aided by a 27-yard run by running back Jordan Johnson.

However, the drive stalled when quarterback Ryan Schipper was unable complete a fourth-and-3 pass to wide receiver Tanner Wermerskirchen and the Eagles took over on downs.

The score was 14-0 at halftime.

The Lakers had good field position on their opening drive of the second half, starting at midfield after a short punt.

Prior Lake moved the ball well early in the drive, getting the ball down to the Eagle 12-yard line on seven consecutive run plays until back-to-back false start penalties moved the Lakers backward.

The Lakers did have a chance to score a couple plays later however, when running back Preston Jelen got open in the corner of the end zone but Schipper’s pass was underthrown and Jelen lost his footing trying to go after the ball.

The pass on the following play was also incomplete, forcing another turnover-on-downs.

“It really comes down to missed opportunities,” Gegenheimer said. “Against any top team, you have got to take advantage of opportunities and when you don’t do that, it’s tough to win.”

The Eagles were forced to punt on the next drive to start the fourth quarter but three plays later, with the Lakers facing a third-and-6 on their own 19-yard line, Schipper scrambled right and tried to find Johnson in the middle of the field but his pass was intercepted by Montero.

The Prior Lake defense held the Eagles to a field goal, making the score 17-0 Eagles with 5:56 to go in the game.

After a pair of penalties hindered the Lakers ability to move the ball on the following drive, Prior Lake faced a fourth-and-10 from their own 20-yard line and needed to go for it but Schipper’s pass was deflected, intercepted and returned for a touchdown by linebacker Collin Penn, effectively ending the game and making the final score 24-0 Eagles.

“I think we played Eden Prairie tougher than we ever have,” Gegenheimer said. “It was a tribute to our kids that they just kept fighting all the way through despite being down early.”

Statistically, it was a much stronger game offensively than Week 2, particularly on the ground, with Johnson rushing for 100 yards on 16 carries and Jelen with 52 yards on 11 carries.

Jelen was also the Lakers leading receiver with four catches for 34 yards.

Schipper completed 6 of 15 passes for 43 yards and the two interceptions.

Defensively, linebacker Zach Wick led Prior Lake in tackles with 10 while linebacker Ryder Folsom and safety Derek Kay each had nine.


Week 4 preview: Minnetonka

It doesn’t get a whole lot easier for the Lakers in Week 4 as they will take on undefeated Minnetonka Sept. 22.

The Skippers, ranked second in the Sept. 20 Associated Press Class 6A rankings, will be the third straight opponent that Prior Lake has played who is ranked in the top five.

Minnetonka is also ranked third in this week's Star Tribune metro rankings.

“If you play three of the top teams in the state back-to-back-to-back it’s definitely tough,” Gegenheimer said. “You hope playing that high level of competition prepares you better for the next week and the rest of the season.”

Tonka is coming off of a 28-21 win over Maple Grove, who beat the Lakers 9-6 in Week 2.

The Skippers led the Crimson 20-0 at halftime before Maple Grove rallied to take a 21-20 lead, ultimately forcing Minnetonka to score a second half touchdown and hold on for the victory.

Minnetonka also defeated Eagan 42-7 in Week 1 and Wayzata 21-6 in Week 2.

“Minnetonka is definitely a very good football team with an explosive offense that can score quick,” Gegenheimer said.

The Skippers are led offensively by duel-threat quarterback Aaron Syverson, who has thrown for 526 yards and rushed for 304 yards to go with a combined seven touchdowns.

“They’ve shown they can play with the best,” Gegenheimer said of the Skippers. “The win versus Maple Grove was a big deal for them and they’re definitely up there as one of the top teams in 6A.”



Kickoff against Minnetonka on Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Dan Patch Stadium.

If you can’t make it to the game, you can watch the online video stream with Ben Tressel and John Wahlstrom.

Follow @plhsfootball, @pl4lstreaming and @pllakers on Twitter for updates.

Be sure to check back next week for a recap of the Minnetonka game as well as a preview of the Week 5 matchup against Burnsville.

Taylor Smith can be reached at or on Twitter at @taysmith2013.