Apparently, there is a lot more to Burnsville than Kamal Martin. And, after the Blaze ran over host Lakeville South 24-6 to improve to 2-0 on the season, it's time the rest of the teams in Class 6A take notice.
How impressive was the Blaze? Martin, a 6-foot-3 senior quarterback whose athletic skills wowed University of Minnesota coaches so much they offered him a scholarship, spent much of the game as a role player, content to let his talented teammates prove themselves.
One in particular, junior running back/linebacker Stephan Olson Jr., stood out, making plays all over the field. He put the Blaze on the scoreboard first with a remarkable one-handed interception, returning it 20 yards for a touchdown.
"I told Steph that was an above-average catch," said Burnsville coach Tyler Krebs, grinning at his understatement. "He's a game-changer."
Olson said he was surprised he came down with the ball. "I didn't think I'd catch it. I blew some coverages last year, and I didn't want to make the same mistake."
Martin, on the other hand, wasn't surprised at all. "He does that in practice," Martin said. "I see it all the time."
Olson wasn't finished, adding the game's most important score, a 5-yard run with 40 seconds left in the first half that capped a nine-play, 80-yard drive. Most important, it came immediately after Lakeville South appeared to get back in the game with a touchdown that cut the lead to 7-6.
While Olson scored the touchdown, the heroes on that drive were members of the Burnsville offensive line, who opened mammoth holes for the Blaze running backs. Burnsville had five runs of 9 or more yards en route to the score.
"It was a really great night for our offensive line," Krebs said. "I thought they controlled things all game."
While the Blaze was setting the tone for the game, Lakeville South kept hurting itself with mistakes. The Cougars committed nine penalties and quarterback Will Heller struggled, throwing three interceptions. The Cougars also had two dropped passes that essentially killed promising drives.
"That is so frustrating," center Eric Rousemiller said. "Don't get me wrong: I'm excited for Burnsville because they've been down for so long, but it's tough when you know you're a good team but you don't show it."
Burnsville scored all 10 points in the second half, getting a 46-yard field goal from kicker Josue Gonzalez and a 44-yard touchdown burst from Jackson Martens. Olson finished with 99 yards rushing on 14 carries while Martens added 80 in seven rushes. As a team, Burnsville finished with 231 yards rushing.
"It's a big win for us, but it just means we have to work harder for next week," Martin said. "We're not satisfied. We can do anything we want if we play together."