Lakeville South football coach Ben Burk projected sophomore Carson Hansen to be a strong defensive back who would "also play offense" this season.
Hansen made his first start at running back Friday at Prior Lake. Four touchdowns later, the athletic and fast youngster made his case to remain in the offensive backfield.
He scored twice in each half to pace top-ranked Lakeville South's 49-35 victory against No. 3 Prior Lake.
"We've known about Carson for a couple years," Burk said. "He was a stud for the freshman team last year. We had Johnny Shabaz last year and we see a lot of him in Carson, and we're really excited about what he will continue to become."
Drawing comparisons to Shabaz, a Star Tribune All-Metro second-team selection as a senior last fall, put a smile on Hansen's face.
"I watch him on film almost every day, and I really look up to him and the player he was," Hansen said.
Lakeville South (3-0) walloped Prior Lake (2-1) despite the absence of senior Riley Mahlman, a Wisconsin-bound offensive lineman and arguably the state's top college prospect. Listed as a tight end, the 6-8, 290-pound Mahlman plays like an additional offensive lineman and throws key blocks in the Cougars' power-T offense. He was injured in the season opener against Burnsville and has not returned to action.
An injury to senior running back Will Geary provided Hansen a starting opportunity. The deep Cougars looked no worse for wear. They scored on their first four possessions for a 29-21 halftime lead.
"They're good," Prior Lake coach Matt Gegenheimer said. "They had some guys who were banged up, but they had other guys who stepped in. They do a great job of winning the line of scrimmage. Once they can do that, with the backs they have, it's difficult to get stops."
Prior Lake sophomore Joseph Krouse proved difficult to corral, too. His work in the first half — a 45-yard run and a 93-yard kickoff return — kept the Lakers on track.
In the second half, the Prior Lake defense got two coveted stops and forced Lakeville South to punt. But each time, the offense gave the ball back.
"We hung in there, but you can't fumble the ball in games like this," Gegenheimer said.
The Cougars turned each gift into Hansen touchdowns.
"The offensive line did a great job making holes against a good defense," Hansen said. "Beating them gives us a lot of energy going forward for the next few weeks."