LAKE LINDEN - Saturday's Great Western Conference opener against Baraga was about all coach Andy Crouch could hope for from his Lake Linden-Hubbell Lakes: no turnovers, steady progress with the ball, less than 100 yards allowed and most importantly, a comfortable victory.
The Lakes, solid in just about every facet, pushed aside the Vikings 34-6 at Warner Field.
"I think we played well as a team. From our scrimmage to this game, we played better together. We stepped up on the defensive side of the ball and that was a huge area," Crouch said.
Lake Linden-Hubbell’s Trent Ambuehl breaks up a pass intended for Baraga receiver?Chris Goodreau during the first quarter of Saturday’s game at Warner Athletic Field. Lakes Alex Knight (33)?and Cole Beauchamp (42)?look on. LL-H took the season opener for both teams, 34-6. (DMG photo by Brandon Veale)
The defense was stout just about all day. Baraga went three-and-out on all six of its first-half possessions, while the Lakes scored on three of theirs, all in grind-it-out fashion, ending in short running plays.
"They just fired off the line. Everyone talks about us and our size advantage, but it doesn't really matter if you're playing against a team that's more fundamentally disciplined and gets off the ball," Baraga coach Doug Hodges, an LL-H alum, said.
LL-H took advantage of favorable field position for its first score, pinning the Vikings deep and starting its drive on the Baraga 22 after a hurried punt. Six running plays later, quarterback Trevor Ongie barreled in from a yard out, with Beau Dupuis tacking on the two-point conversion.
Baraga0 0 6 0 - 6
LL-H8 14 12 0 - 34
LLH - Trevor Ongie, 1-yard run (Beau Dupuis run), 1:25
LLH - Tyler Roose, 3-yard run (Mitchel Kumpula run), 7:44
LLH - Dupuis, 3-yard run (pass failed), 4:39
LLH - Cody Kumpula, 38-yard run (run failed), 7:39
BAR - Jon Kaster, 4-yard run (pass failed), 3:15
LLH - C. Kumpula, 20-yard run (run failed), 2:06
Total offense - Baraga 86 (92 run, minus-6 pass); LL-Hubbell 242 (242 run, 0 pass); First downs, Baraga 6, LL-Hubbell 12. Rushing - BAR, Kaster 14-85, 1 TD; Michael Turunen 8-41; LLH, C. Kumpula 10-101, 2 TDs, Dupuis 13-57, Cole Beauchamp 5-40; Tylor Rickard 8-23. Passing: BAR, Kaster, 2-11-(minus-6); LLH, M. Kumpula, 0-1-0; Receiving, n/a.
The Lakes went 50 yards in eight plays on the next possession, with Tyler Roose finishing it off and Mitchel Kumpula adding the conversion run.
The third and final score of the half was a 3-yard run by Dupuis.
"We tried to make them run laterally. We're so much smaller than them, we thought if could get them running a little bit, tire them out, it would pay dividends and I think in the second quarter it did," Crouch said.
Having a deep stable of backs (six Lakes had at least four carries) was particularly useful during a sun-drenched day on the shores of Torch Lake in which the mercury rose well into the 80s.
"We've got some backs, they're not real big, but they're really quick and I've got confidence in all of them to carry the ball," Crouch said.
The Lakes finally broke a big run early in the second half, as Cody Kumpula sprinted 38 yards down the left sideline to make it 28-0, but instead of capitulating, Baraga fought back.
The visitors' first drive of the half was its best of the game, as quarterback Jon Kaster began to find success cutting option runs up the hash marks, with his first carry of the quarter a 31-yard keeper.
He had four more runs in the series, the last of which got Baraga on the board from four yards out.
The Lakes responded with a big kickoff return from Ongie which set up Cody Kumpula's second TD of the day, from 20 yards, just two plays in.
Cody Kumpula cracked the 100-yard barrier, posting 101 on 10 carries. Dupuis added 57 yards on 13 carries and Cole Beauchamp 40 yards on five attempts.
Kaster picked up 85 yards on 14 attempts to pace the Vikings. Baraga will try again for a road win Friday at Hancock.
The Lakes, meanwhile, face an early showdown at Hurley, Wis., a GWC (if not Wisconsin state) title contender Friday.