Regular Season wrap-up.
October 21, 2011By Brian Vossen of Lakeville North Football
The Lakeville North Panthers started the season against state ranked Eastview High School. Eastview looked to avenge a 3-0 OT loss at their place the year before. The Panther looked to earn some respect beating one of the 4 teams ranked ahead of them in the SSC. They made that message loud and clear with a 42-17 victory and broke the post game huddle with a statement they would echo every week. "First in the Conference!"
Onto Apple Valley. Good teams beat the other good teams and they beat the ones they're supposed to badly. North claimed the victory by a score of 45-17.
Week 3 the Panther hosted their first Lake Conference opponent Edina in place of Jefferson. Edina came in ranked ahead of the Panthers. They played an extremely physical game, but the Panthers prevailed once again. A final second interception for a touchdown by Alex Wood game North a 27-14 victory over the Hornets.
Off to Rosemount to battle the defending state runners up. The Irish were ranked ahead of the Panthers entering the game, but the Panthers used their speed to overwhelm a talented Irish football team. That game ended like the previous 3. "First in the Conference!" (28-7)
Homecoming week 5 would provide an extremely difficult challenge. Stay up after an emotional Rosemount victory and avoid looking ahead to the undefeated South match-up on the horizon. Burnsville brought a large and physical team to Lakeville North. The Panther struggled to hang onto the ball allowing 4 turnovers in the game. But, the Panthers walked away the victor despite being humbled.
Separated by 2 miles stood the only remaining undefeated teams in the SSC. Lakeville North had moved to a 5th rank in the state, one spot behind rival South. The side story of crosstown QB's filled the newspapers and town chatter. The night of the game the Panthers proved to be a better team frustrating the South passing game with an aggressive blitz package and lighting the score board up in the second half. The Panthers won the game 30-6 and moved on as the sole leader in the conference.
Entering week 7 with the play-offs approaching Lakeville North's QRF score became the talk of the team. Section 1AAAAA moved to a new ranking system that awarded points for wins, opponents wins, and strength of schedule. Entering the game the Panthers were behind undefeated Owatonna. A victory over the Eagles would move North to the top spot in the Section. That was all the motivation they needed winning 35-7 over the Kennedy Eagles.
The final week of the season came with plenty on the line. A win would give the Panthers sole possession of the SSC championship vs. a shared title with their opponent Prior Lake. Both teams played to keep their top seed in their respective section rankings. Despite the strength of schedule, Owatonna would take the top seed if the Panthers lost. But, Lakeville North was determined to not let that happen. They finished the first half with a close 7-3 lead, but came out in the second half with the energy to pull our a 21-3 victory over a physical Lakers football team.
The season ended the way it started. The announcement, "First in the Conference!" Now the Panthers stand 5 games from the ultimate goal with an extremely challenging path ahead of them. Tune in to read how they handle the challenge. If there is one thing they have proved this year to this point it is that we find a way to win...at everything we do.