The #4 ranked Lakeville South Cougars (3-0) finally put it all together against a winless Apple Valley squad Friday night. In the midst of a season where the offense has gotten most of the attention, the Lakeville South defense got their day in the sun as the defensive starters shutout an Eagle offense that struggled to move the ball throughout the game. Nevin Andreas and Brandon Meek led the way with six tackles apiece. Apple Valley (0-3) barely surpassed the 100 total yard mark on offense, most of which came once the game was well in hand. South safety Matt Mehlhorn had the honor of scoring the Cougars’ first defensive touchdown of the year, a 32-yard interception return during a twenty-four point second quarter for Lakeville.
The Cougar offense was not at its sharpest Friday; lucky for them they didn’t have to be. South utilized a strong ground game during their first drive of the game onward to their first score. Braden Kaufenberg and Chris Moore each had long gains during the drive that ended with a Mitch Leidner one-yard quarterback sneak for a touchdown. After a costly Roughing the Punter penalty against the Eagles, it appeared Lakeville was headed for its second score. However, the drive ended after Leidner lofted a ball intended for a fading, yet triple-covered Devon Bzoskie. The pass instead found the hands of Apple Valley defender Travis Helling, who also led the Eagles with eight tackles. Leidner finished the game with a 47% completion percentage and forced several balls into heavy coverage. These are just a few mistakes Leidner has made in a season where he has done many, many things right.
Matt Heller continued his impressive play as well Friday night. When the score was at 7-0 in the second quarter, Heller returned a punt deep into Apple Valley territory, evading what seemed like all eleven Eagle pursuers in the process. Just minutes later, Heller caught his third touchdown pass of the season. After an Andrew O’Reilly field goal and Mehlhorn’s interception return the score was 24-0 with only a couple minutes remaining in the half, but the Cougar offense was not finished. Head Coach Larry Thompson implemented his two-minute, hurry-up offense. Behind the three-cogged rushing machine of Moore, Kaufenberg, and Austin Britnell, the Cougars moved steadily up-field. A quick pass to Bzoskie capped off the successful scoring drive, making the score 31-0 heading into halftime.
In the second half, the Lakeville starters saw only limited play. In this shortened time, big plays were still to be had. Leidner hit a wide open Heller on a post route for a 46-yard score that increased South’s lead to thirty-eight. Another O’Reilly kick and a rushing touchdown from senior Drew Wacker finished off the scoring for the Cougars. The Eagles finally got on the board with just minutes remaining when quarterback Tommy Singer found Mitch Hechsel for a twenty-one yard passing score. Dom McDew-Stauffer and Grant Christian combined for 74 rushing yards for Apple Valley.
Next week, the Cougars travel to Bloomington to take on the 1-2 Jefferson Jaguars. Apple Valley is scheduled to play Eagan, who is also 0-3.
By Luke Sleeper
Luke Sleeper is a regular contributer to kchkradio.net