Panthers make it two wins in a row against Cooper
A 21-point second quarter sparked Spring Lake Park (2-2) to its second win in as many weeks with a 41-20 over Robbinsdale Cooper Sept. 20.
The Panthers offense was sparked by performances from running backs Grant Walter, Eji Ejiya and Richie Toweh.
Walter scored three times, twice as a running back averaging 9.5 yards per carry (17 carries for 161 yards) and a third score on a 74-yard interception return to give the Panthers a 35-0 lead in the third quarter.
Coach Jeff Schlieff praised the work done by both offensive and defensive lines to open space for the rest of the team to make plays on both sides of the ball.
The Panthers defense held Cooper to minus-21 yards rushing in the first half and held the passing attack to 8-19 for 89 yards in the game.
Ejiya and Toweh scored on runs of one and eight yards, respectively. Ejiya had 56 yards on 16 carries in the win and made 10 total tackles as a starting linebacker.
Toweh had 47 yards on just six carries (7.8 yards per carry) and seven total tackles as a linebacker to give the senior 44 tackles through four games.
Schlieff said Toweh continues to make progress from a preseason ankle injury and he’s seeing even more time on the field after holding down a starting linebacker role last season.
Junior linebacker Antonio Zepeda turned in his best game of his season so far with a season-high 15 tackles (seven solos) and his first sack one week after recovering his first fumble of the season.
“It’s nice to get another linebacker to create competition,” Schieff said. “It will only force your team to get better as guys get healthy and better.”
Schlieff noticed Zepedas’ intensity during practice ahead of the Cooper game, he said. “I asked him, ‘What got into you at practice?’” Schlieff said. “He said, ‘You were talking about 14 practices left in the regular season,’” Schlieff said.
Spring Lake Park will go for a third straight win at North St. Paul, the first of two non-conference opponents, Sept. 27. The Panthers will travel to Glencoe Oct. 4 before returning home to face conference foes – Benilde-St. Margaret’s (Oct. 11) and St. Louis Park Oct. 16.
The Panthers raised $2,500 through its Tackle Cancer fundraiser during the game.
Jason Olson is at firstname.lastname@example.org