St. Croix Lutheran junior Jonathan Liesener said he had no trouble falling asleep Thursday, the night before first start at quarterback for the Crusaders.

He certainly appeared comfortable Friday, throwing three touchdown passes in a 40-12 victory over visiting Providence Academy.

Liesener completed six of eight passes for 173 yards as the Crusaders built a 40-0 lead. Senior running back Mike Stern added 121 rushing yards and three touchdowns for last year’s state runners-up in Class 3A.

“I love football, and this is a dream,” Liesener said. “I’m living it out.”

Liesener is one of only three new offensive starters for a St. Croix Lutheran. Two of his touchdown passes went to senior receiver Garett Maag, who has committed to North Dakota, and a third went to senior Cory Bryant.

St. Croix Lutheran’s defense didn’t allow Providence inside its 40-yard line until the fourth quarter.

The Crusaders and Lions have played most years in recent memory, with St. Croix Lutheran winning each meeting. That includes a victory in the 2011 state semifinals.

Providence Academy was coming off a 7-3 season but lost seven offensive linemen from that team. Justin Mason threw touchdown passes to Evan Condon and Jackson Sonderby in the fourth quarter.

NATE GOTLIEB