With high expectations comes added pressure; pressure that Lakeville South’s football team must have surely felt at the beginning of their 35-21 win over Eagan Friday night. With a University of Minnesota recruit in quarterback Mitch Leidner and a high powered offense to go along with him, many have pegged Lakeville South as one of the top teams in the state.
The South Suburban Conference favorites didn’t fully appear until the second half when the game was tied 14-14. Leidner and the offense looked out of sync early on but did find opportune times to put points on the board. South’s big play ability did show through right away Friday night, as Leidner found senior wide receiver Matt Heller on 40-yard touchdown pass. After several unsuccessful series, South caught a break in the form of a long interception return from cornerback Ty Powell, shortly followed by a touchdown run by Leidner.
Mitch Leidner wasn’t the only quarterback to impress Friday night. Eagan’s starter Drew Bauer was impressive as well. He finished the game with 164 passing yards and three touchdown passes; including a 24-yard strike to tight end Mack Nelson that gave Eagan an early 14-7 lead.
It was clear that Lakeville South had shifted its pass heavy game plan to one devoted to the run game at half. The change paid dividends as the Cougars began to move the ball with much greater effectiveness and runningback Chris Moore accrued a bevy of rushing yards in the process. Third quarter rushing touchdowns from Leidner and junior runningback Austin Britnell gave South a 28-14 lead.
The Cougar defense also stepped up their game in the second half. Linebackers Nevin Andreas and Kyle Fatturi were running wild all over the field; they seemed to be in the middle of every key defense in the third and fourth quarter. Defensive ends Dylan Lampert and Brandon Meek each made their presence felt also – Lampert made several impressive plays in the Eagan backfield, including a couple knockdowns of passes from Bauer.
Eagan’s offense showed some questionable clock management in the fourth quarter while still only down by two scores. After several short runs and a lack of urgency, Eagan finally used its hurry-up offense at the five minute mark. Eagan did score once more near the end of regulation but it was too little too late. South was the better team on this night.
Although Lakeville South did shake off the early jitters and win rather convincingly, it is certain that the pressure that comes with the team’s lofty goals will not subside as the season continues.
Next week, the Cougars travel to Eastview High School to take on the 0-1 Lightning, who lost a tough 42-17 game to Lakeville North on Thursday night.