Lakeville North and Lakeville South held their scrimmages on the same day this year, that’s just about where the similarities between the two events end. The Cougars brought out all the pomp and circumstance for their scrimmage Wednesday night, the Panthers kept things simple.
South had food vendors, a silent auction, Encore choir singing the National Anthem and open concessions. North, ice cream in the school atrium after practice with a Senior meet and greet.
South had overflow attendance into the stadium plaza, most of which, however, seemed disinterested at best in what was actually taking place on the field. The North fans, while few, were hanging on each snap sitting comfortably in the bleachers.
It’s not to say that either one was better or more appropriate, they were just different.
Lakeville South activities director Neil Strader admitted Wednesday night wasn’t exactly about the football for the program as a whole. It was a fundraising opportunity. All sale proceeds went towards the Lakeville South Football program.
However, that doesn’t seem to surprise anyone. Cougar football, since its conception, has always been the flashier program. They’ve had the more high-profile players, they’ve had the more high-profile games, they’ve had Larry Thompson.
While Lakeville North Football Coach Brian Vossen spent most of his scrimmage barking out plays and calling on different teams. Lakeville South Coach Larry Thompson was walking around his field, laughing with players and coaches, addressing the fans over the PA system and wondering whether the football field will still have patches of sand on it come the season opener.
“I didn’t like our field, it’s awful, with the sand and things out there. It’s really bad.”
Assistant Coach Mark Zeise was showing pictures to people he took on his phone of the spots on the field that look the worst. Exposed dirt and sand bring with it the concern for ankle injuries come the time the team takes the field Friday against Eagan. Even team trainer Molly Malundo joked with Coach Thompson about having to join the grounds crew team.
The issue at hand, at least according to Coach Zeise, is a combination of natural wear and tear, the South Lacrosse team sharing the field and a lack of necessary funding for consistent up-keep.
Looks like we might be seeing more of these scrimmage/fundraisers in the future.
With an artificial turf field, Lakeville North doesn’t have to worry about that problem. And they took it to their full advantage. Vossen used Wednesday night to find out where the varsity squad needs to improve heading into their Thursday night season opener.
“I liked the aggressiveness, I like the competitiveness. I liked that once the offense got going, they looked pretty good,” explains Coach Vossen, “What I didn’t like is it looked like we struggled a little bit picking up the blitz.”
Thompson used Wednesday night as an opportunity to find out where they have depth.
“I know what (Mitch) Leidner and (Matt) Heller and (Devon) Bzoskie, I know what all they can do. I had to find other guys that can play. So the starters, they had their reps in there, but other than those few key guys they didn’t play a whole lot.”
With North’s season opener scheduled for a Thursday, they will be using their Friday practice this week as a “Monday” practice.
Both schools have four-team scrimmages on Saturday.
Lakeville North opens their season Thursday at home against Eastview. Lakeville South opens their season Friday at home against Eagan.