Osseo coach Derrin Lamker knew he had a good one in senior running back Bridge Tusler. After a 37-21 victory over Centennial on Thursday, it's safe to say that Lamker is feeling just as good about the rest of the Orioles.
Outside of Tusler, considered one of the metro's best backs, Lamker had justifiable concerns about the inexperienced Orioles. He said he felt, experience aside, that this squad had a chance to be among his best. The players just had to show it when it counted.
They did that in their season opener, taking a big lead and then withstanding a desperate Centennial rally.
"We know what we're capable of," Lamker said. "We just had to show it on a Friday night, and we did that."
They didn't do so badly for a Thursday night, either.
Things could not have started better for Osseo. The Orioles went 71 yards for a touchdown on their opening drive. It was capped off by Tusler -- who else? He gave them a 7-0 lead on a weaving, 49-yard scoring run.
Centennial tied the score 7-7 on the ensuing drive, but the Cougars seemed to let first-game jitters creep in after that.
Thanks to Centennial special teams breakdowns, Osseo followed with a pair of scoring drives that measured 12 and 10 yards, with Tusler scoring touchdowns to finish them off. The Orioles also got a 25-yard field goal from Aaron Bergh for a 25-7 halftime lead.
Tusler added his fourth TD on Osseo's first possession of the second half, extending the lead to 31-7.
Centennial, itself carrying high hopes, regrouped after its poor first-half showing. The Cougars cut into the Osseo lead on the legs of its own horse of a running back, Michael Diggins. He scored twice and Centennial cut Osseo lead to 31-21 with 5:04 left in the game.
With the knowledge that his team needed a boost and hoping to keep the ball away from Centennial's suddenly potent offense, Tusler stepped forward on Osseo's final drive. He carryied the ball three times for 39 yards and a game-clinching touchdown, his fifth of the game.
"I don't worry about stats," Tusler said. "I just knew that we needed to get 10 yards every two or three plays to keep the ball away from them. The offensive was great. They did it all. I just wanted the 'W.'"