Revenge was sweet

(Above) Austin Larson was very close to blocking this Crestwood punt.  The Lions topped the Cadets 35-0 in Friday night’s match-up.  -Reporter photo by Chris Barragy

by Marianne Gasaway

The Clear Lake Lions took care of a major piece of business Friday night.  The Lions shut out Crestwood, 35-0, in Class 2A, District 2 play.  The Lions dominated from the opening whistle and played like a team with “unfinished business,” their theme for the season. The win puts the Lions on top of the district with a 2-0 record.  They are 6-0 overall and ranked second among all 2A teams.

The win was especially sweet because it avenged a 2018 loss which contributed to the Lions being left out of the post-season play-offs.

“It was a really fun game to watch.  The kids played hard and that’s what we ask,” said Head Coach Jared DeVries.  “We stress ‘one snap at a time’ and the kids are buying into that culture.”

Clear Lake’s defense, in particular, has been a model of DeVries’ ‘practice how you want to play’ mindset.  Against the Cadets the Lion defense repeatedly came up with big plays and stops.

The Lions’ first score came courtesy of its defense.  Connor O’Tool picked Crestwood’s Garret Ollendieck and ran the ball back for a 50-yard touchdown late in the first quarter.  Hunter Nielsen’s PAT, the first of three on the night, gave Clear Lake a 7-0 lead.

Crestwood, helped by four Lion penalties in the first quarter, moved the ball all the way down to the Lion 21 and the game was shaping up to be the battle most had predicted.  But again, Clear Lake’s defense rose up.  A sack by Thomas Gansen may have unnerved Ollendieck.  On third and 27 the Cadet QB launched a pass into the end zone and the Lions’ Tyres Green came down with the ball to slam the door on Crestwood’s scoring opportunity.

With three-minutes left in the first half, the Lions pushed their lead to 14-0.  A 10-play, 53-yard drive was capped by Jaden O’Brien-Green’s nine-yard run into the end zone.

The Cadets worked quickly to get themselves in a position to score before halftime.  They drove to the Lion 23, but Jack Barragy was ready and waiting for an Ollendieck pass.  The senior intercepted the ball at the two-yard line as time expired.

“Jack Barragy had a heck of game, along with Thomas Gansen and Connor O’Tool,” said Coach DeVries.  “Those three play with a lot of toughness and are real leaders on our defense.”

Clear Lake’s offense began to click in the second half, but not before another defensive stop kept the Cadets down.  After 17 plays and 54-yards the Cadets were forced to turn the ball over on downs at the Lion 12.

On the strength of their passing game the Lions outscored the visitor 21-0 in the half.  Quarterback Jaylen DeVries finished with 243-yards on 12/21 passing.  Two-hundred eighteen yards of the total came in the second half on 5/7 passing.

A 99-yard pass play to Nick Danielson accounted for much of that yardage.

A hand-off miscue pinned the Lions on their own one in the third quarter.  The DeVries to Danielson

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