Lakeville North rolled into its Class 6A quarterfinal football game Thursday boasting a pretty darn good running back in Wade Sullivan.
The Panthers' opponent, undefeated and No. 1-ranked Totino-Grace, has a pretty good one of its own in Ivan Burlak. And another in Gayflor Flomo. And Brady Bertram. And a good quarterback in Kyle Halverson. And receiver in Joe Russell. And … well, you get the idea.
The Eagles ran roughshod over Lakeville North, rolling out to a 28-0 halftime lead and cruising to a 42-14 victory that wasn't as close at the final score indicated.
"We're playing our best, by far," Totino-Grace coach Jeff Ferguson said. "Over the last couple of weeks, we've really been locked in."
Lakeville North (9-2) returned the opening kickoff into Totino-Grace territory and moved the ball to the 2-yard line before turning it over on downs.
That was as good as it would get for the Panthers. Totino-Grace shut down Sullivan, who entered the game with 1,787 yards rushing and 32 touchdowns, better than anyone has all season. The 5-8, 170-pound ball of muscle and speed managed just 27 yards on 13 carries before halftime.
"We knew he was a really good running back and that we had to stop him," said Russell, who also plays defensive back and had an interception to go with a diving 17-yard touchdown reception.
While the defense knocked Lakeville North around, the offense was executing with precision. Totino-Grace (11-0) scored on four consecutive possessions in the second quarter, twice finishing off long drives and twice on one-play bursts after changes of possession. By halftime, the domination had become so complete that only the final score was in question.
Halverson passed for two touchdowns in the first half — one to Russell and another to Burlak, who went 54 yards down the left sideline. The quarterback ran for two short touchdowns in the second half.
"He's a really good quarterback," Ferguson said. "He's really playing well."
Lakeville North coach Brian Vossen wore a bewildered grin after the game, unable to understand how his team could be thrashed so thoroughly.
"That was just a terrible night," he said. "I don't want to take anything away from Totino-Grace because that's a great football team, but sometimes with kids, when it starts to rain on you it pours, and the frustration plays a role in how you perform."