From his team's long opening kickoff return to its repeated scoring drives and interceptions, Apple Valley senior Kellan McKeag said he felt a "big ball of energy" building.
Playing the part of main generator, McKeag, a standout linebacker and running back, rushed for three touchdowns and intercepted two passes in a 42-21 victory over Park of Cottage Grove to keep the Eagles undefeated.
"The energy level just kept going up until we were soaring," McKeag said.
The host Eagles (No. 4, Class 5A) dominated the first half, rushing for touchdowns on their first four possessions. A long opening kick return and three interceptions provided short fields. Three Apple Valley drives started from the Wolfpack 35-yard line or closer.
These Eagles (4-0) can go the distance as well. Their mammoth offensive line, led by senior captains Riley Hansen (6-5, 280 pounds) and Spencer Rolland (6-8, 240), pushed around the Wolfpack defense throughout an 85-yard scoring drive.
"We have the best offensive line in the state," said quarterback Tyler Cardella, who bolted left on a pair of short first-half scores.
Down 21-0, Park of Cottage Grove (2-2) showed glimpses of its explosive offense. Quarterback Grant Glazier found Gunnar Ossmo for a 45-yard catch. One play later, Glazier ran for another first down.
But the screen passes that produced long scores in games earlier this season didn't fool McKeag. He leaped to intercept a pass in the flat to kill a promising Wolfpack drive. He snared two of the defense's three interceptions in the first half.
Apple Valley didn't let up, turning Park over on downs to start the third quarter. On third-and-10, Cardella rolled left and hit Luke Martens on a deep slant for an 80-yard touchdown and 35-0 lead.
"That was pure improvisation," Cardella said. "It was supposed to be a screen play. But if it works, it works."