Panthers start fast on short rest

Lakeville North safety Hayden Oster (44) forces a fumble near the White Bear Lake goal line in Saturday afternoon's game. Will Arendt recovered at the 1-yard line, leading to a touchdown in the Panthers' 49-14 victory.

Playing for 3rd time in 9 days, North routs White Bear Lake

The grind continues for Lakeville North this week after the Panthers completed a stretch of three football games in nine days with a 49-14 victory at White Bear Lake on Saturday afternoon.

“I think the key thing is handling adversity,” said Panthers quarterback Matt Miller. “We’re all a little banged up; we’re all hurting a little. But we pride ourselves on being ready to play, whenever it is.”

Next up for North is another short preparation week as the Panthers play host to Farmington at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Lakeville North is scheduled to play its first postseason game Tuesday, Nov. 17, and if it wins the next game would be just four days later on Nov. 21.

The Panthers know the short-week drill by now. Perhaps more than any team in the metro area, Lakeville North has had to be flexible. Its first two opponents weren’t originally on the schedule but were last-minute additions for other teams that had to back out because of COVID-19 concerns. After a 35-15 loss to Lakeville South on Oct. 30, the Panthers’ scheduled game Nov. 2 against Eastview was canceled. But Burnsville, which had to cancel an Oct. 15 game against North, stepped into the spot, and North (3-2) won 42-28.

White Bear Lake (1-3) was playing its second game in five days Saturday after an unplanned break of more than two weeks. North showed no ill effects of its compressed schedule, scoring four touchdowns in the first quarter.

Panthers senior running back Logan Freeburg scored three of the first four times he touched the ball, running for touchdowns of 49, 61 and 14 yards. The only downside was he left the game in the second quarter because of a leg injury after gaining 127 yards on just four carries. Freeburg’s backup, Gavyn Schraufnagel, rushed for 102 yards on 11 attempts and scored a 37-yard touchdown.

Fullback Gunnar Swetala carried only twice but scored on runs of 1 and 37 yards. Miller also completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Reed Smith.

On defense, Swetala picked off a pass. Junior safety Hayden Oster forced a fumble near the White Bear Lake goal line that Will Arendt recovered, setting up a Panthers touchdown.

North has scored 91 points in its last two games. “Our defense has played well all year,” Miller said, “and I think we’re starting to do a lot of good things on offense.”

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