Flags, big returns bite FL in loss to Raptors

East Ridge rolls to 28-point halftime lead, wins 42-7


The Forest Lake Dance Team gave its first performance of the fall at Friday’s football home opener. From left: Chandler Boyd, Emily Isaacson and Aly Proulx. (Photo by Clint Riese)

Clint Riese
Sports Editor

One would expect there to be a tangled web of countless factors contributing to a 42-7 loss. The Ranger gridders indeed fell by that total in their home opener against East Ridge last Friday, but there were two clear-cut, obvious culprits.

Eleven first-half penalties grounded the offense, while East Ridge used two long kick returns to pile up early points.

“We made a lot of improvements from the first week to the second,” said coach Billy Kirch. “Offensively and defensively, we did a lot of things better. The part really hurting us right now is the mental mistakes and penalties.”

Most of the flags came for false starts and delay of game offenses. Penalties affected the home team’s first six drives.

“They turned second and five into second and 15, and when it’s second and 15, now you’re in a tough spot,” Kirch said. “We don’t have a lot of plays in the playbook for third and 20.”

East Ridge junior Auggie Ollrich took the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown.

Forest Lake senior Harry Olsen takes the field against East Ridge. (Photo by Clint Riese)

Up 7-0 on their next drive, the Raptors fumbled and Ranger junior Cody Mehsikomer recovered the ball.

The forced turnover led to points, as quarterback Trent Rabel found senior wideout Zach Freer along the sideline for a 33-yard touchdown. Freer, a first-year football player, reeled in the ball with his arms extended and outran a defender to the end zone.

East Ridge again busted open the kick return, this time reaching the 6-yard-line. Junior running back Nick Leach scored on the next play and the extra point made it 14-7 with 5:57 remaining in the first quarter.

Zach Freer stretches out to haul in a nice throw from Trent Rabel. The 33-yard touchdown led to a brief 7-7 tie in Fridays’ home opener against East Ridge. (Photo by Clint Riese)

Forest Lake got the ball back on the East Ridge 26 after a muffed punt, but fumbled it back to the Raptors, who then took control of the game with 12-play drive capped by another Leach touchdown run.

East Ridge (1-1) finished the half with two more scoring drives to make the score 35-7 heading into the locker rooms.

Glen Miron led the Rangers in rushing with 69 yards on nine carries. Rabel went 11-25 for 125 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Up next is a home contest this Friday versus White Bear Lake. The Bears (1-1) will bring a new spread offense under first-year head coach Ryan Bartlett.