DES LACS - Des Lacs-Burlington football coach James Johnson couldn't recall the last time the Lakers had won a playoff game.
Prior to Saturday, it had been more than 10 years since the Lakers won a playoff game. The losing streak ended after DL-B defeated New Salem-Almont-Glen Ullin 25-8 in the first round of the Class A playoffs.
"We're moving on," DL-B coach James Johnson said. "That's a good feeling. Whenever you're getting ready for next week, it's a good feeling. Some teams are packing it up and that very well could be us, but we get to prepare for another week."
Des Lacs-Burlington senior defensive lineman Michael Preston pressures New Salem-Almont-Glen Ullin quarterback Spencer Rebel on Saturday at Des Lacs High School.
The fourth-ranked Lakers (9-0) forced eight turnovers in their first postseason appearance since 2009 and will host Velva on Saturday. DL-B senior defensive back Cole Edwards picked off Holsteins junior quarterback Spencer Rebel three times in the first half. Two of Edwards' interceptions came inside the Lakers' 20-yard line.
"I thought we played well," Edwards said. "We have a pretty good defense and haven't allowed a lot of points this year. We prepared well through the week, so that helped."
DL-B capitalized on New Salem miscues, scoring all 19 first-half points off turnovers. Senior defensive lineman Alex Davy put the Lakers in front, returning an interception 18 yards for a touchdown with 7 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the first quarter. It was the first of five picks thrown by Rebel.
"It moved the momentum more toward us and gave us a big jump start," Davy said.
A muffed punt by New Salem senior John Duppong at the Holsteins' 32-yard line set up a 9-yard touchdown run by DL-B senior Justin Thomas in the final minute of the opening quarter.
Edwards' first interception of the second quarter halted a promising drive and set up the first big DL-B play of the game. Senior quarterback Austin Schestler avoided pressure in the pocket and scrambled to the strong side before hitting a wide-open Brett Schaefer for a 37-yard touchdown.
Schestler threw his
second touchdown pass on the first drive of the second half, a screen pass to Thomas that went for 67 yards. Schestler completed 6 of 12 passes for 167 yards.
DL-B's offense was out of sync most of the game despite putting up 25 points. The Lakers turned the ball over five times in what became a comedy of errors by the second quarter. In the final two minutes of the first half, the teams combined for four interceptions on five plays.
"I thought it was a sloppy game," Johnson said. "We hadn't played like we played all year. We turned the ball over way too much. We had too many penalties, so we didn't get a flow offensively. Defensively, we created some turnovers. That was the good thing."
The turnover contest continued into the third quarter. Schaefer fumbled near midfield with 3:38 remaining in the third quarter. On the next play, Schestler picked off Rebel. Six seconds later, the Lakers gave the ball back to the Holsteins (4-4) on a botched lateral play. The teams combined for 13 turnovers, which doesn't count two turnovers on downs by New Salem.
"They were the killer," New Salem coach Steve Kleinjan said of the turnovers. "Turnover, turnover, turnover that's all I can really say. Des Lacs-Burlington is a heck of a football team, but if we don't turn the ball over and we get a couple things to roll our way, it might be a little bit of a different ball game."
The Holsteins' only score came on a 3-yard run by sophomore running back Cullen Seeger with 2:55 left in the first half. Senior running back Zach Cofer rushed for a game-high 104 yards.
Mike Kraft covers high school athletics, the Minot State University men's club hockey team and the Minot Minotauros. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft23_MDN.