LANESBORO — This week, the Lanesboro High School football team found itself among the Minnesota high school football 9-Man state rankings, checking in at No. 5 after a 2-0 start.
On Friday, the Burros stayed perfect, and showed why they deserve to be mentioned among the state’s best.
Senior running back J.T. Rein led the way with a mammoth 185-yard rushing effort, and the fifth-ranked Burros toppled District 9-South rival LeRoy-Ostrander 38-27 in the Post Bulletin's Game of the Week.
“We just don’t want to settle for this, though,” Lanesboro coach James Semmen said. “We want to keep going and make sure we get a little better each and every week. We lost to these guys last year, so it’s nice to get a win. But we talked about this even before today; it’s just one more game. We just want to keep winning and keep getting better.”
Rein also rushed for two scores, both in the third quarter, the second of which spanned 75 yards en route to Lanesboro’s largest lead of the night at 38-14. Senior quarterback Seth Semmen added 83 yards and two touchdowns of his own on 16 attempts, as the Burros (3-0 overall, 2-0 district) racked up a grand total of 352 rushing yards as a team.
“We pound the ball,” said Rein, who also had a 42-yard touchdown on the Burros’ opening possession of the second half. “We pass here and there to throw them off guard, but for the most part we love to pound the ball, wear teams out, and by the fourth quarter, everyone else is gassed and we can finish out the game.”
That’s exactly what the Burros did against LeRoy-Ostrander (2-1), whose defense conceded five separate Lanesboro drives of at least 4 minutes, 24 seconds. The Burros’ ground attack kept the clock moving and subsequently kept the L-O defense on the field.
In all, Lanesboro racked up a whopping 32-minute, 46-second time of possession, more than doubling the Cardinals in that regard.
“At the end of the day, our kids battled hard,” LeRoy-Ostrander coach Trevor Carrier said. “Hey, nothing but respect from us. They’re a really good team. They were physical, and they were the better team tonight.”
In countering the Lanesboro rushing attack, the Cardinals (2-1, 2-1) looked to the air on offense.
And it paid off on more than one occasion. In fact, senior quarterback Chase Johnson found junior receiver Tristan Lewiston for three passing touchdowns, as Johnson completed seven of his 18 pass attempts for 206 yards while also adding a team high 108 rushing yards on 12 attempts.
But Johnson’s efforts weren’t enough to match Lanesboro’s relentless rushing attack. The Burros simply had more weapons.
“We grind it out,” said James Semmen, whose team ran on 56 of their 62 offensive plays. “That’s our strength. That’s what we like to do.”
A gusty call gone wrong helped open things up for the Burros early in the second quarter, with the game still very much in the balance at that point.
Trailing 12-7 with the ball at his own 21-yard line, Carrier opted to go for it on fourth-and-4, a call which later produced a costly turnover on downs deep in Cardinals territory. On the very next play, Seth Semmen rushed in a 21-yard touchdown to make it 18-7 Burros.
Lanesboro led by as many as 24 points after Rein's 75-yard TD, but LeRoy-Ostrander’s passing attack kept the Burros honest. All three of Johnson’s touchdown passes found junior wide receiver Tristan Lewiston, who finished with 188 yards on five receptions. Johnson also fought his way for a 39-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter to keep the game within two scores.
But the Cardinals simply ran out of time, as the Burros successfully managed the lead down the stretch to preserve their unblemished start to the season.
“I think that the results speak for themselves so far,” Rein said. “We have a strong team. We’ll have to finish out the rest of the year strong to show that we belong in that conversation as being one of the best teams in the state.”
Lanesboro travels to Houston next week, while the Cardinals welcome top-ranked Mountain Lake Area.
NO. 5 LANESBORO 38, LEROY-OSTRANDER 27
LA — Hayden Lawstuen 4 run (pass failed), 7:18.
LO — Tristan Lewiston 56 pass from Chase Johnson (Gavin Sweeney kick), 4:02.
LA — Seth Semmen 23 run (run failed), 11:03.
LA — Semmen 21 run (run failed), 9:18.
LO — Lewiston 58 pass from Johnson (Sweeney kick).
LA — J.T. Rein 42 run (pass failed), 8:08.
LA — Rein 75 run (Ryan run), 5:20.
LO — Johnson 39 run (pass failed), 2:26.
LA — Jacob Peterson 13 pass from Semmen (pass failed), 8:31.
LO — Lewison 55 pass from Johnson (Sweeney kick), 3:26.
RUSHING: LA — Rein 22-185, Semmen 16-83, Lawstuen 9-46, Mason Howard 7-34, Orion Sass 2-7, Team 1-(minus-3); LO — Johnson 12-108, Memphiz Gomez 5-28, Layne Bird 2-13, Lewiston 1-4.
PASSING: LA — Semmen 3-5-1-70; LO — Johnson 7-18-0-206.
RECEIVING: LA — Howard 1-43, Rein 1-14, Peterson 1-13; LO — Lewiston 5-188, Sweeney 1-7, Hayden Sass 1-1.