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Lakers upset Lakeville North in Blue Collar Bowl, stay in district title and top seed contention

By Taylor Smith, 10/17/17, 10:00PM CDT


The Lakers beat Lakeville North Friday in the first Blue Collar Bowl but the win meant more than just bragging rights in a rivalry.


Week 7 Recap: Lakeville North

The Prior Lake Lakers ran a fake punt on the opening play of the second quarter that setup the only score of the game as the Lakers upset ninth-ranked Lakeville North 8-0 Oct. 13 at Lakeville North High School in the first Blue Collar Bowl.

Punter Blake Ochsendorf was lined up in punt formation, facing fourth down-and-16 at his own 49-yard line. Ochsendorf took the snap but instead of punting it away, took a few steps to his right and threw the ball to wide receiver Tanner Wermerskirchen, who was wide open against an unsuspecting Lakeville North defense. Wermerskirchen wasn’t tackled until he reached the Panthers 18-yard line, putting the Lakers in great position to score the game’s only touchdown.

Every time the Lakers (4-3) and the Panthers (4-3) meet, the game seems to come down to a big play for either side but I don’t know if anyone expected that big play to be a fake punt.

Neither team could muster much of anything on its first drive but the Panther offense had one of its most promising drives on its second of the game.

The Lakeville North drive, which started at the 21-yard line, began with three long runs in the first four plays, getting the Panthers all the way to the Prior Lake 13-yard line before the Laker defense stood tall. The Laker defense stopped back-to-back run plays behind the line of scrimmage and then linebacker/running back Spencer Shaver got a big sack, forcing a long field goal try that ended up being way short.

After the missed field goal, the Laker touchdown drive started with an 11-yard pass from quarterback Colin O’Connor to Wermerskirchen on third-and-three from the 27-yard line followed by a 17-yard carry by running back Preston Jelen.

Prior Lake fans may have thought the Laker drive had stalled after back-to-back sacks until Ochsendorf ran the fake punt to Wermerskirchen for a 33-yard gain, keeping the drive alive.

After an incomplete pass in the end zone, running back Jordan Johnson carried the ball 13-yards, setting up Prior Lake with first-and-goal at the Lakeville North 5-yard line. A few plays later, with the Lakers facing third down on the 2-yard line, Shaver muscled his way into the end zone, spinning and diving for the Laker touchdown.

As we have seen from Prior Lake for much of the year, they lined up for the two-point conversion, with Jelen getting the Panthers to jump offside, allowing for an attempt from inside the 2-yard line.

Jelen then took the snap and rolled to his right before he made a couple Panther defenders miss, carrying the ball into the end zone for the two-point conversion, making the score 8-0 with 9:48 to go in the second quarter.

Both defenses stood strong, not allowing much of anything until halftime.

It looked like the Panthers might get good field position about halfway through the third quarter when the Lakers were forced to punt but Ochsendorf’s punt went over returner RaJa Nelson’s head and did not stop rolling until it had gone close to 60 yards.

The Lakers were backed up on their next possession as well, after the Prior Lake defense had forced a Panther punt near midfield but Shaver broke off a 25-yard run to get the Lakers out of the shadow of their own goal line.

At the start of the fourth quarter, Prior Lake faced a fourth-and-2 from its own 39-yard line and lined up to go for it, forcing the Panthers to call timeout to talk it over. Lakeville North then had to call another timeout when they didn’t have the right personnel on the field.

The Lakers then merely tried to draw the Panthers offside before calling a timeout but the odd sequence was a victory for Prior Lake, who forced the trailing Panthers to use two timeouts without snapping the ball.

Lakeville North caught a break on the next snap though, blocking Ochsendorf’s punt, giving the Panther offense the ball at the Laker 34-yard line.

Despite the Panther momentum, the Laker defense was not going to let Lakeville North tie the game and brought pressure on defense to do it.

With Lakeville North facing a third-and-9 from the Laker 22-yard line, linebacker Michael Herbst came on a blitz, disrupting Panther quarterback Brennan Kuebler’s pass, which went nearly straight up in the air and allowed linebacker Noah Benson to run underneath it for the interception.

The Lakers got a 32-yard run from Jelen that could have resulted in more on the following drive if it wasn’t for an illegal block penalty. However, the run helped the Lakers flip field position as Ochsendorf’s punt later in the drive was downed at the 2-yard line on what would be the final drive of the game.

The Panthers did not go quietly, breaking off a 19-yard run on the opening play of the drive.

Facing a fourth down-and-1 on their own 30-yard line, the Panthers got a 33-yard run by Nelson followed by a 12-yard run to set Lakeville North up with first-and-10 at the Laker 25 with only a few minutes left.

The Prior Lake defense then sealed the victory for the Lakers three plays later on another fourth-and-1 play. The Panthers tried to run the fullback to the right but he was met by a wall of Lakers, including Herbst, at the line of scrimmage, forcing a turnover on downs and ending the game.

Statistically, the defense was led by Benson who had 13 tackles, followed by cornerback Jordan Olson and linebacker Zach Wick who each had 9.

Benson is a candidate  for MN Football Hub's Defensive Player of the Week. You can vote for him on the MN Football Hub website until Saturday at noon.

Shaver led the way on offense with 53 yards on 13 carries while Jelen had 48 yards on 10 carries and Johnson had 37 yards on 10 carries.


District Championship hopes and the Playoff Picture

Friday’s win at Lakeville North was a big not only because it was a rivalry game but because of what it means in the Metro South District standings and potential playoff seeding.

After the Prior Lake win over the Panthers, the Lakers sit a half game behind Rosemount in the district standings as the Irish play one more game against district opponents than PL does during the regular season. (It’s just how the schedule worked out.)

That technically means that if Rosemount beats Shakopee on Wednesday, they would be alone atop the district standings. However, Coach Gegenheimer believes that the Lakers and the Irish would be considered co-champions if they win their respective games since they would both finish undefeated against Metro South opponents.

Both the Prior Lake-Eastview and Rosemount-Shakopee games have implications for section seeding as well but those implications are subjective.

For those of you who are unaware, playoff seeding is determined by coaches vote on the morning following the regular season finale. Coach Gegenheimer and the other coaches in the section (Burnsville, Eagan, Eastview, Farmington, Lakeville North, Lakeville South and Rosemount) will each rank the other seven teams how they see fit and the teams will be seeded 1-8 based on the results.

Once these seeds are decided, they are sent to the Minnesota State High School League who inserts the teams from each of the four Class 6A sections into a randomly selected 32-team bracket with the one certainty being that you are not allowed to play a team from your own section until the third round, which is the state quarterfinals.

This year’s 32-team bracket will only have 31 teams since Coon Rapids dropped down to Class 5A, meaning one of the #1 seeds will get a first-round bye, potentially the Lakers.

Though nothing is for certain with the coaches vote at the section meeting, Prior Lake will likely be seeded no lower than a #3 seed even with a loss as the Lakers, Rosemount and Lakeville North are the only teams in the section with winning records.

If those three teams all win on Wednesday, the seeding process could get interesting.

In that case, Rosemount would finish 6-2 while Prior Lake and Lakeville North would finish 5-3. However, Rosemount will not have beaten any teams with a winning record and one of their losses was to a Wayzata team who has only won two games all season, while the Lakers’ three losses are all to teams who were ranked in the top five in the Class 6A rankings at the time: Maple Grove, Eden Prairie and Minnetonka. Prior Lake also has last week’s quality win over then ninth-ranked Lakeville North.

If Rosemount were to lose to Shakopee and the Lakers were to beat Eastview, Prior Lake would likely get the #1 seed without much argument. But a Laker loss and wins by Rosemount and Lakeville North could knock Prior Lake to a #3 seed.

Ultimately, it is all speculation until the bracket comes out on Thursday so the Lakers just need to control what they can control, beating Eastview on Wednesday.


The next opponent: Eastview

It will be a quick turnaround for the Lakers as they take on Eastview on the road on Oct. 18 to close the regular season.

The game is being played on Wednesday due to MEA break.

On paper, this game may look like it should be a Prior Lake victory but preparation can be much more difficult on a short week as the Lightning are coming off a pair of wins.

Eastview (2-5) beat Farmington 34-14 last week and Wayzata 18-7 the week before.

They lost their first five games to top-ranked Eden Prairie 35-7, Burnsville 12-7, Shakopee 17-0, second-ranked Edina 35-0 and seventh-ranked Rosemount 28-0.

The Lightning are led on offense by running back Quintcy Suggs, who had 193 yards on 34 carries in last week’s win over Farmington.



Kickoff at Eastview on Wednesday is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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 Eastview game as well as a preview of the upcoming playoff matchup.

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