LESTER PRAIRIE – A win in October is always a big deal. A win over your rival is even better.
The matchup with Mayer Lutheran has been circled on the calendar for the Lester Prairie football team for a while. It was everything they hoped for.
“It’s been marked on the calendar since last year when we played them,” senior Tanner Scheevel said with a smile. “We’ve all been excited about it. It was a big win for us and it was a lot of fun. It’s been a rivalry for a while. I haven’t been able to play against them the last few years so it felt really great to come out and get a win.”
Taking on each other in a matchup for the No. 1 seed in the Section 2A tournament, it was the Bulldogs who dominated the trenches on their way to an impressive 16-0 win over the Crusaders Thursday night.
“I thought we played great,” Lester Prairie coach Joe Scoblic said. “We shot ourselves in the foot twice in the first half on drives that we could have scored on. We talked a lot about that at halftime. In the second half, we wanted to get them in a grind and I think we did that.”
The Bulldogs came out and issued a statement early on. Lester Prairie scored on a seven-minute drive to open the game to take an 8-0 lead. Following the score, Jace Cacka set the tone defensively for the Bulldogs of what was to come as he and his team forced a three-and-out with a pair of big hits.
“He was just a beast,” Scoblic said about Cacka. “That little wrestler is a stud, there’s no doubt about that. I thought he really set the tone right away on two of the first three plays on defense. He set the tone and the defense just rallied after that.”
As good as the Bulldogs played in the opening half, they led by just eight. With Mayer Lutheran getting the ball first to start the second half, Scoblic knew how important the first few minutes of the second half would be for the rest of the game.
“I could tell they were fired up,” Scoblic said about Mayer Lutheran. “We thought we had to stop that first drive and if we stopped it we could get this game under control and it seems like that’s what we did.”
The Bulldogs did just that, forcing another three and out defensively, Lester Prairie went for the dagger on their first drive of the second half. Logan Lambrecht capped off a methodical drive by the Bulldogs with a five-yard touchdown run to put them up two scores and take all the momentum.
“It feels really good,” Cacka said about the win. “They’ve beaten us the last couple of years pretty badly so it feels good to get one back. We knew it was going to be a tough game and we had to just after it.”
Lester Prairie’s line on both sides of the ball was a big reason for the win. While they aren’t the biggest or strongest guys in the world, they get the job done time and time again as the Bulldogs moved to 7-0 on the season with the win.
“They just don’t quit,” Scoblic said about the line. “They just feed off each other and get after it. Are they perfect? No, but they’re pretty darn good.”
“I’m so proud of those guys,” Scheevel said. “They’ve been putting the work in since last year. We’ve been in the weight room all season and grinding. I couldn’t ask for a better line. They’ve been putting in all the work and it’s paying off.”
Mayer Lutheran was held to just 129 yards of offense in the loss as they struggled to get anything going. Knowing it would be a tough matchup coming in, the Crusaders took one on the chin in their first of what they hope will be two matchups with the Bulldogs this season.
“They’re just mature and a really good team,” Mayer Lutheran coach Dean Aurich said. “I like their whole athleticism on the team. They looked good on video and they looked even better tonight.”
The Crusaders might be the defending Class A state champions but they know there will be some growing pains this year. With several new players stepping into bigger roles, Mayer Lutheran needed a big game like this to see exactly where they are at and what they need to work on going forward.
“To beat these guys, it’s going to take a lot of work. They’re better than us right now. We knew coming in they would kind of be the favorite. They really are. They’re well-coached and have a really good program. When you’re growing, you just have to keep plugging. There are little things we can do better. If we play well and don’t get beat up, we can still make a run but it’s going to take a lot of work.”
For Lester Prairie, it’s been an impressive run for them this season. While the perfect record through seven games may come as a surprise to some, it doesn’t to them.
“They really like each other which is a big plus,” Scoblic said. “We started all of this in June when we started practices. We talked about this season and what a special year it could be. “
“This summer, we did a lot of team bonding stuff,” Scheevel added. “We would go to the beach a lot after practice. We just did a lot of team bonding stuff. It got us all together and we just kind of formed a brotherhood. That’s when we became a family and it just pushes everyone to work a little harder each day.”
“It’s like a family,” Cacka added. “Everybody helps each other out. Everybody cheers each other on. It’s a good team we have.”