No. 4 Lourdes tops Lake City to finish regular season 7-1, re-take place among state's best
Section 1AAA rivals Rochester Lourdes and Lake City closed the high school football regular season Wednesday night with a matchup at Rochester Regional Stadium.
ROCHESTER — Four years can feel like an eternity to a football program that has had as much success as Rochester Lourdes.
Four years is how long the Eagles have waited to be back in the position they are in now.
With a convincing 35-14 victory against Lake City in the regular season finale for both teams on Wednesday at Rochester Regional Stadium, No. 4-ranked Lourdes finishes the regular season 7-1 and likely will be the No. 1 seed in the Section 1AAA playoffs.
In a seven-team section, the No. 1 seed carries with it a bye in the quarterfinal round. That means the Eagles — should the QRF ratings fall the right way and make them the top seed — won’t have to play again until the section semifinal round on Saturday, Oct. 29.
“We’re feeling really good,” Eagles senior fullback/linebacker Eli Haight said. “We’re meshing well. If we make mistakes, we don’t get down on ourselves or each other. We talk about it, figure it out and stay calm with each other. That’s the great thing.”
In the grand scheme of things, 2018 isn’t that long ago.
But for Lourdes, it has felt that way at times. Consider the following:
• Over the past three seasons, including the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, the Eagles had a combined record of 11-13.
• In the previous nine seasons — from 2010-18 — the Eagles went 101-11, with seven section championships and four state championships.
Lourdes certainly isn’t looking that far ahead — winning one or two games in the Section 1AAA playoffs will be a grueling enough challenge, with opponents such as No. 5-ranked Cannon Falls, La Crescent-Hokah and Plainview-Elgin-Millville looming — but going unbeaten in Southeast District, Red Division play and being back among the top-ranked teams in the state is a feeling the Eagles have longed to feel again since their last state championship season.
“We just have to keep getting better every day,” Haight said. “Especially in the playoffs, you have to go one game at a time. You can’t look too far into the future because if you do that, and you lose, you’re done.”
The Eagles had some ups and downs in Wednesday’s win, but as they have all season, the players found a way to climb to a different gear when needed, and to manufacture more highs than lows.
“We had a great week last week with some corrections on some stuff we saw on film,” Eagles head coach Mike Kesler said. “We have to realize that we can’t have some of these dips in games that we’ve had. In the playoffs, those will cost us.
“We need to get some things cleaned up. Hopefully we’ll get a few extra days to do that, to get some guys healthy. Anytime you can go onto the second round of the playoffs without having to play a game, it’s a good thing.”
Haight, one of 11 Lourdes seniors playing their final home regular-season game, came up with the play of the night on the game’s opening drive.
Lake City received the opening kickoff and proceeded to drive from its own 35-yard line all the way to Lourdes’ 4. But on a fourth-and-goal at the 4, Haight shot through the Tigers’ line and sacked quarterback Jaden Shones for a 9-yard loss.
The Eagles’ offense seized that momentum and flipped the field, driving 87 yards in 14 plays and taking a 7-0 lead when Haight powered in from 3 yards out. The Eagles led the rest of the game.
“That was huge,” Kesler said. “Lake City had a tremendous first drive, then we made that stop, which was terrific. Then, on top of that, to answer them, we had that long drive, which was huge.
“In that situation we just want to flip the field, get better field position and flip the field on them. But to go all the way down and score was big for us.”
Lake City used a strong passing attack to hang close for most of the game — Shones connected with athletic 6-foot-4 receiver Keegan Ryan eight times for 107 yards, including a 10-yard TD on the last play of the first half that gave the Tigers some momentum and cut Lourdes’ lead to 21-6.
But the Eagles answered on the first possession of the second half. After a 31-yard kickoff return by Aidan Jahns, Lourdes went 53 yards in five plays, Jahns capping the drive with a 29-yard scoring sprint on an end-around, to make it 28-6.
The teams traded fourth-quarter TDs to reach the final score, including the game’s final TD, a 16-yard Adam Sellner-to-Hudson Fix touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Fix is another of Lourdes’ seniors who has played a vital role on both sides of the ball this season.
“They’re just great leaders,” Kesler said of the Eagles’ seniors. “There’s not a lot of them, but they play hard and do a great job of teaching the young guys what the expectations are in our program.
“That’s all you can ask for as a coach, is to have a group of seniors like this. They handle things, take care of their business. They haven’t had a lot of success coming up through the program, but I’m proud of them and where they are now.”
Lourdes 35, Lake City 14
Lake City 0-6-0-8 — 14
Lourdes 7-14-7-7 — 35
LRDS — Eli Haight 3 run (Aidan Jahns kick) 1:31.
LRDS — Caleb Akinbolu 77 run (Jahns kick) 7:40.
LRDS — Aidan Jahns 37 pass from Adam Sellner (Jahns kick) 1:58.
LC — Keegan Ryan 10 pass from Jaden Shones (kick blocked) 0:00.
LRDS — Aidan Jahns 29 run (Jahns kick) 9:16.
LC — Aaron Lou 2 run (Keegan Ryan pass from Jaden Shones) 11:06.
LRDS — Hudson Fix 16 pass from Adam Sellner (Jahns kick) 6:38.
LC — LRDS
First Downs 16 — 17
Total net yards 229 — 339
Rushes-yards 25-35 — 39-258
Passing yards 194 — 81
Comp.-att.-int. 17-28-1 — 4-9-0
Fumbles-lost 1-0 — 0-0
Penalties-yards 4-20 — 5-46
Punts-avg. 4-30.5 — 2-42.0
Time of poss. 24:23 — 22:44
LC — Aaron Lou 7-29, 1 TD; Parker Rodman 2-11; Keegan Ryan 1-9; Karch Hegge 1-7; Colter Hegge 1-1; Jaden Shones 13-(minus-22). LRDS — Caleb Akinbolu 20-174, 1 TD; Eli Haight 8-39, 1 TD; Aidan Jahns 1-29, 1 TD; Sutton Fix 1-9; Adam Sellner 7-4; Abraham Lovely 2-3.
LC — Jaden Shones 17-28-2, 194 yards, 1 TD. LRDS — Adam Sellner 4-9-0, 81 yards, 2 TDs.
LC — Keegan Ryan 8-107, 1 TD; Aaron Lou 4-35; Rylee Fick 2-28; Gunnar Seydel 3-24. LRDS — Hudson Fix 3-44, 1 TD; Aidan Jahns 1-37, 1 TD.