The Prior Lake football team started fast in its bid to open the season with five straight wins.
Senior Joey Krouse returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown against perennial power Eden Prairie Sept. 30. But that was lone big play for the No. 2-ranked Lakers in the first half.
Fifth-ranked Eden Prairie answered that score and dominated the second quarter with three touchdowns en route to a 28-14 home win.
Prior Lake has started 4-1 five times under Matt Gegenheimer, who is in his 17th season as head coach with the last time coming in 2015. Since the Lakers joined the top class in football in 2003, it’s the program’s sixth 4-1 start.
Twice those 4-1 starts have led to state berths — 2012 and 2014 — and in both of those seasons Prior Lake lost in the state quarterfinals. In both years, the Lakers also finished with a 9-2 record.
Prior Lake also started 4-1 in 2010, but lost its last five games. In 2005, 2006 and 2015, the 4-1 start faded fast as the team ended up 5-4 overall in all three of those campaigns.
The Lakers are also searching for their first-ever big-school win over Eden Prairie. The loss Sept. 30 was the 11th straight against the Eagles with two of those setbacks coming in the playoffs.
Eden Prairie dominated the second quarter against Prior Lake, taking a 14-7 lead on a 35-yard reverse flea flicker pass. An interception and a blocked punt set up the Eagles’ next two touchdowns, which were 5- and 1-yard runs.
Prior Lake’s defense held Eden Prairie in check in the second half, despite the Eagles’ finishing the game with two running backs over 150 yards rushing and a total of 331 yards on the ground.
The Lakers’ offense was only able to manage one touchdown after the break. Krouse scored on a 24-yard run midway through the third quarter to cut the deficit to 28-14.
Eden Prairie fumbled on its next possession, but Prior Lake couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity missing a field goal.
Prior Lake is home in Week 6 (Oct. 7) to take on No. 6 Lakeville South, the defending Class 6A state champions.
The Lakers will be at No. 3 Rosemount Oct. 14. The unbeaten Irish (4-0) beat Eden Prairie Sept. 22, winning at home 14-7.
Prior Lake ends the regular season Oct. 20 at Park. The Class 6A playoff bracket comes out Oct. 21 and will be available at mshsl.org.
Prior Lake will be seeded with the seven other Section 6AAAAAA teams, which includes Eden Prairie (4-1), No. 8 Shakopee (4-1), No. 10 Minnetonka (3-2), Burnsville (3-2), Wayzata (2-3), Edina (1-4) and Hopkins (0-5).