PREP FOOTBALL: Missed opportunities haunt Lakers in season opener against to Upsala/Swanville

HOWARD LAKE – It’s hard to come out on top in a football game when you leave points on the board. That was the case for the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted football team in their season opener against Upsala/Swanville. The chances were there all night for the Lakers, but the key plays evaded them as the visiting Patriots came away with a 37-14 victory Friday night.

“(I’m) very happy with how they competed,” HLWW coach Ben Anderson said. “We dropped a couple of passes and left points on the board, though. I think we got inside the red zone three times and just couldn’t connect. It’s part of football. We missed executing a couple of plays, but we did make some nice plays, too.”

After falling behind 8-0 to the Patriots, the Lakers wasted no time in answering back. It took just 20 seconds as junior quarterback Bennett Paulson found Noah Bush on a double move for a 69-yard touchdown to put the Lakers right back in the game.

“He threw the ball really well,” Anderson said about his quarterback who was making just his second career start. “He made good decisions when nothing was there. He made some plays with his legs and got us a couple first downs doing that. Hopefully, he’ll be able to continue to do that. He threw a nice deep ball tonight.”

Following the big pass play to bring the Lakers within two, it was the defense’s turn to make a play. On the first play following the kickoff, senior Remington Albright picked off a pass, setting the Lakers up in prime position to take the lead.

“He was kind of an icon for us tonight as far as toughness goes,” Anderson said. “He made some great plays. He kept us in it because of some plays he made.”

Although Albright’s interception put the Lakers in scoring position immediately, HLWW was unable to take advantage. A pass interference call on 4th and six kept HLWW’s drive alive, but the Lakers would later turn it over on downs as the Patriots’ defense stood firm. Junior Carson Woolhouse nearly pulled in a touchdown from Bennett on 3rd and 10, but couldn’t hang on as the Lakers were held off the board.

“It’s frustrating and I know they get frustrated,” Anderson said about not capitalizing on opportunities. “When they execute, they do well. We execute three or four plays in a row and then we take a step back. Now, the defense kind of has you a bit.”

The Patriots would score 16 unanswered points to close out the first half, taking a 22-6 lead into the locker room at the half. The deficit could have been more, but towards the end of the second half, HLWW’s defense settled down.

“Early on, we had some alignment trouble,” Anderson said. “Once we got under the lights a little bit, kids were forgetting where they were supposed to be and their assignments. We got that cleaned up in the second quarter and started playing a little better football on defense.”

For the complete story and more HJ sports coverage, check out the Friday, September 6 edition of the Herald Journal. Click here for subscription information.

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