Fresh off its victory over Park, the Stillwater football team is hoping to make it two in a row when it hosts Forest Lake in Friday’s home opener at Pony Stadium. The Ponies (1-0 SEC, 1-0) dispatched the Wolfpack 26-7 in the opener while Forest Lake (0-1, 0-1) dropped a 20-9 decision to Hastings. Stillwater has won four in a row against the Rangers, including last year’s 48-0 victory, and leads the all-time series 19-7. Forest Lake has lost 14 games in a row since clipping Roseville 43-42 midway through the 2011 season.
The Rangers managed just 204 yards in the loss to Hastings, including 89 yards on 33 rushing attempts (2.7 avg.). Quarterback Brandon Rogers completed 11 of 26 passes for 115 yards with two interceptions. Five of those completions went to Dan Wassman for 62 yards.
“Offensively, they’re kind of spread out again and trying to spread the field a little bit,” Ponies coach Beau LaBore said. “They’re farther along defensively than they are offensively, but they did show some promise and put some good drives together against Hastings. It’s still pretty early and it’s a small sample size, but they might have a more conventional approach this week than what we saw last week.”
Most of Forest Lake’s experience is found on defense. The Rangers held Hastings to 268 total yards, but allowed 6.2 yards per rushing attempt (40 for 249 yards). The Raiders completed just two of nine passes for 19 yards, but will face a vastly different style of offense against the Ponies.
“We think they’re improved defensively,” LaBore said. “They’ve got some good size and they’re getting to the ball more aggressively. Watching Hastings play against them doesn’t give us a great look.”
The initial diagnosis on Stillwater running back Nick Wanovich was less optimistic, but it appears the junior will not need surgery on his ankle after getting injured on his first carry of the game. Wanovich is not expected to play on Friday, but should return in a few weeks. The Ponies are hoping to lighten the load for junior tailback Zach Knox, who rushed 36 times for 171 yards and four touchdowns. Among those expected to help carry more of the rushing load are Alec Hill, Anthony Pignato, Tyler Hein, Hunter Novak, Charlie Haumerson and Brooks Carroll. Senior quarterback Trevor Tillett played well in the opener, completing 8 of 18 passes for 106 yards — primarily to receiver DJ Skie (3 catches for 60) and tight end Matt Anderson (5 for 46).
“Take away a few drops and a few plays where the running backs or tight ends didn’t run the correct routes and he was better than the numbers indicated,” LaBore said. “We feel pretty good about how we adapted defensively and the things we were trying to do we did pretty well. That’s not to say we don’t need to make improvements because there were things we need to do a lot better. It’s not acceptable to come out there and not match the tempo of our opponents, but we only gave up seven points and there were good adjustments made.”
By the numbers
Forest Lake Offense Stillwater
89 Rushing 233
115 Passing 106
204 Total offense 339
204.0 Average 339.0
249 Rushing 71
19 Passing 268
268 Total defense 339
268.0 Average 339.0
13 First Downs 20
8-42 Penalties 1-5
0 Turnover rating 0