It turns out Camden Dean can throw the ball pretty well when given the opportunity.
Entering his team’s showdown with Eden Prairie on Friday night, the Lakeville South senior quarterback had attempted only 10 passes in the Cougars’ first two games.
But against the Eagles, he completed 6 of 7 passes for 88 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for another as the Cougars rolled to a 42-7 victory in a matchup of the top two teams in Class 6A.
Lakeville South, ranked No. 1, improved to 3-0. The Eagles, ranked No. 2, fell to 2-1.
“Sometimes other teams make fun of us for not throwing the ball that much,” said Dean, whose team operates primarily out of the Power-T formation. “But our response is you better hope we don’t throw the ball because we have the talent to do it.”
Of course, Lakeville South is still a running team by nature, and on Friday the Cougars rushed for 287 yards. That rushing attack was led by junior Carson Hansen, who finished with four touchdowns — the last three on runs of 64, 10 and 64 yards and the first on a 13-yard pass from Dean early in the second quarter to put the Cougars on top 14-0.
Hansen finished with 202 yards rushing.
“We know our Power-T is pretty powerful and we can always lean on it,” Hansen said. “But it’s nice to be able to mix it up a little every now and then, and we were able to do that tonight.”
Eden Prairie, which was already battling injuries on defense entering play, lost a couple more key players Friday in senior defensive end Trey Bixby (a University of Minnesota recruit) and senior Danny Frischmon.
“We were down three starting defensive ends,” Eagles coach Mike Grant said. “We lost two (in a win at Farmington) last week and then we lost Trey tonight. And we lost one of our captains (Frischmon) in the first quarter. So we were playing a lot of inexperienced guys against a really good team.
“But you have to give them a lot of credit. They came out and played really well on both sides of the ball.”
Eden Prairie struggled to get on track offensively. The Eagles’ lone score came on an impressive 92-yard kickoff return down the sideline by senior Logan Gareis that cut the gap to 14-7.
But after that, the Cougars defense — which has now not allowed an offensive touchdown in nine-plus quarters — hung tough.
Lakeville South recovered a pair of fumbles (both of which set up touchdowns), blocked a 45-yard field goal attempt and twice turned the Eagles over on downs deep in Cougars territory.
“Our defense is the heart and soul of our team,” Cougars coach Ben Burk said. “That’s where we put our best athletes and that’s where we spend the most time in practice.”
That showed as Lakeville South held the Eagles to just 21 yards of offense in the first half.
Dean threw for two touchdowns in first half, the last of which, a 44-yard strike over the middle to junior Ian Segna, put his team on top 21-7 at halftime.
“That’s something we haven’t done a whole lot of so far this season,” Dean said of his team taking to the air early on. “But it really helped us get going tonight. If we hadn’t put those plays in, who knows what the final score would have been.”
But, as it turned out, the final score ended up well in his team’s favor, giving the top-ranked Cougars even more momentum heading into the rest of their schedule, which continues with a home matchup against Farmington (1-2) next week.
“This win means a lot to us,” Dean said. “Eden Prairie is a great program and we have a lot of respect for them. I’m so proud of every one of our guys for the way they played tonight. It’s a huge confidence booster for us.
“But we’re not satisfied yet. We know there is still a lot of season to go. So we’re already moving past this one and focusing on next week.”