Spring Lake Park football players needed no rousing pregame speech, no emotional pleas and no gimmicks to prepare for Benilde-St. Margaret's.
A victory meant clinching a share of the inaugural Suburban Red subdistrict championship.
The Panthers, ranked No. 2 in Class 5A, stormed to three consecutive touchdowns in the first quarter and rolled to a 42-18 victory. Spring Lake Park (7-0) must defeat Cooper (6-1) next week to win title outright.
"We knew we had to come out, hit them in the throat right away and get them on their heels," senior linebacker Jake LeVahn said.
Spring Lake Park quarterback Zach Ojile and running back Isley Carrington each ran for two touchdowns in spoiling Benilde-St. Margaret's homecoming festivities.
"We wanted to start fast, so scoring on the first three drives was great," said Ojile, who got loose for an 86-yard touchdown in the first quarter. "The defense got stops and we got up early."
When Benilde cut the deficit to 20-7, the Panthers answered with another touchdown for a 28-7 lead in the second quarter.
The Red Knights (3-4) showed better after getting manhandled and shut out last week at Park Center. Co-head coach Jon Hanks said he was "disgusted" with myriad defensive miscues but credited the team for battling.
Running back Ricky Floyd, who has posted some monster games this season, did not approach the 200-yard mark. But his speed and elusiveness allowed him to run for solid gains and a fourth-quarter TD.
"Our offense was doing things better but we could not stop them," Hanks said. "They do everything right. They are well-coached."
An example of Spring Lake Park's execution came in the third quarter, when Ojile hit LeVahn for a 35-yard touchdown down the seam. The option running-heavy Panthers don't pass often but can make it hurt when it matters.
"Zach and I grew up together and we used to always play catch in the back yard," LeVahn said. "Catching that pass from him was a dream come true, especially for a district championship."
Ojile never doubted his old friend's hands. "He's a basketball player so he's real athletic," Ojile said.