(Above) Clear Lake’s Austin Larson manhandles a Forest City running back during Friday night’s game. Ready to lend a hand were Alex Snelling (8), Jagger Schmitt (25) and Nick Danielson (5). Reporter photo by Chris Barragy
The Clear Lake Lions handled Forest City with ease Friday night, setting the stage for an important Class 2A District 3 contest this week at Lions Field. The Lions, now 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the district, will host New Hampton (2-5, 2-1), with a potential playoff wild card spot on the line.
District leader Crestwood defeated New Hampton in overtime Friday night to put themselves in a power position to claim the automatic playoff bid as District champion. New Hampton faces Hampton-Dumont (3-4, 1-2) and Forest City (0-7, 0-3) in the final two weeks of the regular season.
The Forest City game served as a character building exercise for the Lions, who were coming off a disappointing loss to Crestwood a week earlier. Coach Jared DeVries had challenged his team to win each snap with improved focus and want.
Despite being whistled for 13 penalties costing 121-yards, the Lions as a whole played an effective game against Forest City. The team piled up 408-yards of offense, while holding the Indians to 116. The Lions’ special teams also figured into the 36-0 victory.
“Our focus was so much better this game. Our defense handled sudden change and scoring on special teams was something we had been working toward,” said the coach. “I thought we played well in the first half and handled some adversity, but we still made some costly mistakes and turned it over in the red zone.”
The Lion defense made its presence known early, as Jagger Schmitt picked off a Riley Helgeson pass on the third play from scrimmage. Clear Lake’s offense established itself with an effective ground game on their first possession. The Lions took the ball all the way to the two-yard line before a fumbled handoff gave the ball back to the Indians, wasting an eight-play, 46-yard drive.
The Lion defense kept the Indians pinned deep in their own territory and when forced to punt from the back of the end zone, Seth Brock could only clear the ball out to the 22. Drew Enke caught the ball on the run and immediately returned it for a score. Hunter Nielsen kicked the PAT and the Lions were up, 7-0 with 5:06 remaining in the first quarter. Enke had good hands all night, handling two kickoff returns, three punt returns and a reception for 43-yards.
Enke opened the second quarter by snatching an interception and setting up the first of three Lion TDs in the second quarter. Jaden O’Brien-Green used his explosive speed to put his team up by two touchdowns in the opening minutes of the second on a 58-yard run. O’Brien-Green finished with 195-yards on 15 carries.
After another Lion defensive stop, it was Kody Kearns’ turn for a big play. Quarterback Jaylen DeVries found Kearns for a 75-yard touchdown midway through the quarter and the Lion lead was 21-0.
O’Brien-Green tacked on another Lion score as the clock wound down before the half. His 12-yard run gave the Lions a 28-0 advantage at the break.
Nielsen used his leg to pin the Indians deep in their own territory early in the third quarter. His 53-yard fun stopped inside the five. Two plays later the Lions scored a safety, 30-0.
An interception by Chase Stuver had the Lions in business again, but the persistent rain made conditions slippery and a double reverse attempt went bad and the fumble was lost, stifling the scoring drive. Before the quarter ended the Lions got their final score when O’Brien-Green accelerated past a host of Indian defenders to a 45-yard score to make the final, 36-0.To read more of this article, please login or sign up for our E-Edition