Week 8 Recap: Eastview
It was not a pretty start for the Lakers with multiple early turnovers but they rebounded behind two interceptions by safety Derek Kay and three touchdowns by running back/linebacker Spencer Shaver to beat Eastview 27-7 Oct. 18, securing a district championship and top seed in the playoffs.
Joey Casey returned the opening kickoff for Prior Lake, carrying the ball across the 30-yard line before he was met by an Eastview defender who knocked the ball out and gave the Lightning great field position to begin the game.
The Laker defense stood tall though, stopping the Lightning over the next four plays to get the ball back to the offense. However, Prior Lake’s offense immediately turned the ball back over as the snap on the first play came before the Lakers were ready and the Lightning fell on the football.
Eastview (2-6) got their only score of the game four plays later when quarterback Derek Tichner threw a “jump ball” to wide receiver Larry Wright who outjumped cornerback Jaden Dorn in the back of the end zone for the touchdown, giving the Lightning a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.
The Lakers got a good return from Dylan Bair on the ensuing kickoff to the 45-yard line but running back Preston Jelen fumbled on the first play, making it three fumbles on Prior Lake’s first four touches.
“We’ve been fortunate to get away with some turnovers but, now that it’s time for playoffs, we have to take care of the football if we want to keep playing,” Prior Lake coach Matt Gegenheimer said.
Luckily for the Lakers, the defense forced a three-and-out so the fumble didn’t do any damage.
Prior Lake was forced to punt on its next possession, pinning Eastview around its own 20-yard line.
Lightning running back Quincy Suggs was unable to handle a pitch from Tichner, letting the ball bounce off his chest. The ball was recovered by Bair, setting the Lakers up in the red zone.
Three plays later, Shaver ran the ball into the end zone from 12-yards out for the touchdown. Jelen’s pass attempt on the two-point conversion was incomplete, making the score 7-6 Lightning with 56 seconds left in the first quarter.
On the next Eastview possession, with the Lightning facing a third-and-5 at their own 35-yard line, Tichner tried to force the ball to Wright but Dorn tipped the ball into the air, allowing Kay to pick it off and returned it all the way to the Eastview 3-yard line.
Shaver added his second touchdown from a yard out a couple plays later to give the Lakers the lead. Kicker Daniel Wee added the extra point to make the score 13-7 Lakers with 9:46 to go in first half.
After the defense stopped Eastview on the next drive, the Lightning lined up to punt but the snap could not be handled by the punter, who was tackled by Kay at his own 8-yard line.
Shaver scored his third touchdown two plays later, increasing the lead to 19-7 with 7:22 to go in the first half. Jelen’s pass was incomplete on the conversion attempt.
Kay got his second interception of the game on the next possession, returning the ball to the Lightning 39-yard line.
However, Laker quarterback Colin O’Connor threw an interception of his own on a deep throw on the following play.
With Eastview backed up on their own 4-yard line, Tichner tried a deep throw of his own, intended for Wright but corner back Jordan Olson intercepted the pass to get the ball back for the Lakers.
“For the defense to keep creating turnovers and getting us good field position, that’s how you win big games and if they continue to do that, we’ll be very competitive,” Gegenheimer said.
Setup with first-and-10 on the Eastview 35-yard line, the Laker drive started with a long 16-yard carry by running back Jordan Johnson who got Prior Lake into the red zone. However, the drive stalled and Wee’s 33-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.
The score was 19-7 at halftime.
It was a scoreless third quarter but Bair delivered the dagger on the first play of the fourth quarter, returning a punt 55 yards down the Laker sideline for the touchdown and put the game out of reach. Wide receiver Spencer Marlier ran in the two-point conversion attempt to reach what would be the final score of 27-7.
Shaver led the Lakers with 57 yards on 14 carries while Johnson had 44 yards on nine carries.
Olson and linebacker Noah Benson led the defense in tackles with 10 while linebacker Zach Wick and lineman Zach Whaley each had nine.
A little help from my… rival?
While the Laker win was exciting, perhaps the highlight of the night came postgame when Prior Lake met on the field for their meeting with Coach Gegenheimer as they awaited the result of the Shakopee-Rosemount game.
As I detailed last week, the Lakers needed a win and a Rosemount loss to claim the district championship and likely secure a top seed in the playoffs.
At that point, the Sabers were leading the Irish 19-14 with little time to play and the coaches watched for updates on their phones as Coach G addressed the team.
A few moments later, linebackers coach Alex Van Krevelen interrupted to say that the game was over and Shakopee had won. The team then went crazy, jumping up and down, hugging each other.
They had just won a district title.
“Compared to where we were a few weeks ago (after three straight losses), to be in the running for a district championship and a possible #1 seed says a lot about the team and their willingness to keep grinding,” Gegenheimer said. “It was a really fun, exciting moment to share with all those guys.”
The next morning, Gegenheimer went to the coaches meeting where the Lakers were indeed awarded the top seed in the section, allowing Prior Lake to have multiple playoff home games should they win their first-round matchup.
“For us to be the #1 seed is ultimately where we wanted to be and now the ball is in our court to take advantage of that and make some things happen,” Gegenheimer said.
A few hours later, the full 31-team bracket was released with the Lakers being matched up with White Bear Lake in the first round of the playoffs Oct. 27 at Dan Patch Stadium. The winner of that matchup will play the winner of Blaine-Robbinsdale Armstrong on Nov. 3, who are the 4 and 5 seeds in the Prior Lake bracket.
The other matchups in the Prior Lake bracket are sixth-seeded East Ridge against third-seeded Rosemount and seventh-seeded Forest Lake against second-seeded Minnetonka.
The Lakers (5-3) finished the regular season ranked tenth in the AP Class 6A rankings.
The next opponent: White Bear Lake
The Lakers will be facing a new opponent in White Bear Lake Oct. 27 at Dan Patch Stadium, a team that Prior Lake has not played, at least in recent history.
“It’s fun to play teams that you haven’t played before and the new (Class) 6A format allows you to do that,” Gegenheimer said. “I’d much rather play some of these new teams, even though there’s unknowns, I think it’s more exciting for high school football.”
The Bears (0-8) are winless on the season though the final scores show that they have kept some games close, particularly a 27-21 loss to fourth-ranked Centennial in the season opener.
White Bear Lake’s other losses are to Mounds View 31-19, Cretin-Derham Hall 35-14, Woodbury 33-0, Roseville 41-6, Stillwater 26-19, East Ridge 31-15 and Osseo 20-19.
The Bears are sparked offensively by wide receiver Blake Charles, who is quarterback Daniel Lyons’ top target, with 25 catches for 270 yards and two touchdowns through the four games entered on MN Football Hub. Lyons is 54 for 86 for 603 yards.
On the ground, running back Zachary Griebel shoulders much of the load with 285 yards on 79 carries through those same four games.
“Any 6A program is a good program regardless of win-loss record,” Gegenheimer said. “Our kids understand that any team can end our season so we prepare for them like everybody else and we expect our kids to perform well and move on to the next round.”
Kickoff against White Bear Lake 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 White Bear Lake game and (if the Lakers win) a preview of the Round 2 matchup.
Taylor Smith can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @taysmith2013.