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Football: Detroit Lakes runs away with the Pigskin Paddle in dominating victory over Perham

The Detroit Lakes football team put on a clinic in its 49-6 win over Perham in the Battle for the Paddle. The Lakers gained 600 yards of total offense including 290 yards rushing from Ethan Carrier

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The Detroit Lakes football team hoists the Pigskin Paddle after a 49-6 win over Perham on Sept, 23, 2022 at Mollberg Field.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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DETROIT LAKES – When preparation is fueled by motivation, it’s often a game that plays out like the one that happened on Friday night at Mollberg Field.

The Detroit Lakes football team had Sept. 23 circled on their calendar for 365 days. After last year’s stunning 30-27 loss against Perham, where the Yellowjackets won on a 52-yard hook-and-ladder touchdown with 13 seconds left, the Lakers cruised to a 49-6 to take back the Pigskin Paddle on their home turf.

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Detroit Lakes' Mason Carrier breaks a tackle on his way to the end zone for a 77-yard score in the Lakers' 49-6 win over Perham on Sept, 23, 2022 at Mollberg Field.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

“All of us know what happened last year,” Mason Carrier said. “The senior that got beat on that play–after the game, he was so down on himself, saying it was all his fault. I know there are guys on this team that made sure to take that into this season. We wanted to come out here and play Laker football. We wanted to play like this, and I’m glad it happened like this.”

The 2021 classic at Ted Meinhover field saw five lead changes and a finish for the ages. This time, Detroit Lakes took a touchdown lead on the first offensive play from scrimmage and didn’t look back. Ethan Carrier broke off a 79-yard run to the house. Nick Buboltz made the first of seven extra points to put the Lakers ahead 7-0.

Shortly after quarterback Caden Strand connected with Grady Kirchner for a 12-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter, Ethan Carrier broke free again. He got loose for an 87-yard score early in the second quarter to take a 21-0 lead.

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Perham's Blaiz Schmidt looks for a receiver in the Yellowjackets' 49-6 loss against Detroit Lakes on Sept, 23, 2022 at Mollberg Field
Jared Rubado / Perham Focus

Perham found an answer in the form of a Braylon Rach 84-yard touchdown run a minute later. The Yellowjackets’ only touchdown drive, and a plethora of first-half penalties, were the only blemishes on an otherwise perfect night for Detroit Lakes.

“We had 8-10 penalties that really got us,” Detroit Lakes head coach Reed Hefta said. “We have games where we’re going to be tight like that. We have to keep working on being sound defensively. That being said, it was fun to see a plan come together for a group of young boys who work their tails off. We ask them to put their team first and not worry about the stuff that doesn’t matter. It was fun to play an awesome game of football tonight.”

Ethan Carrier found the end zone one more time in the first half. He punched in a 13-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter to regain a three-score lead.

“Man, he can run,” Mason Carrier said of his brother Ethan. “I could have 100,000 yards and break every school record, but I would give it up to block for him and see him score a touchdown. This is his last year here. I think he’s the best running back I’ve ever played with or against. Seeing him run like this is the best feeling in the world. There’s not a Christmas, birthday or holiday out there that beats being on the field with him when he does this.”

Detroit Lakes wasn’t done there. Mason Carrier got in on the scoring action two minutes later. He caught a 77-yard touchdown pass to make it 35-6 following Buboltz’s extra point.

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Detroit Lakes' Caden Strand throws a pass to the end zone in the Lakers' 49-6 win over Perham on Sept, 23, 2022 at Mollberg Field.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

The Lakers found the end zone one more time in the first half in poetic fashion. Caden Strand threw a short pass to Charlie Kalina, who pitched the ball to Mason Carrier on his way to the end zone for a 25-yard hook-and-ladder touchdown play. It put the finishing touches on the latest chapter of this Highway 10 rivalry.

“Man, this feels good compared to last year,” senior tackle Connor Zamzo said. “I was on the sidelines right where (Perham’s Levi Richter) caught that hook-and-ladder with the missed tackle. I saw the whole thing. It was heartbreaking. This just feels amazing. We respect (Perham) and know they’re going to be a tough team, but we want to beat them bad every year. Make no mistake about it.”

Detroit Lakes added one more touchdown in the third quarter with the second-team players in the game. Tommy Suckert ran in a four-yard score to give the Lakers a 49-6 lead.

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Ethan Carrier ran for 290 yards on 10 attempts for three touchdowns. Strand was 9-for-11 passing for 197 yards, with three of them going to Mason Carrier for 145 yards and two touchdowns. In total, the Lakers had 600-yards of offense. Detroit Lakes’ broke off one big play after another largely due to its experience in the trenches.

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Perham's Evan Kovash braces for a tackle in the Yellowjackets' 49-6 loss against Detroit Lakes on Sept, 23, 2022 at Mollberg Field
Jared Rubado / Perham Focus

“This team is a whole family, but the guys on the line are our own little posse,” Zamzo said. “With (Isaac Cariveau) back now after his season-ending injury last year, he’s just going hard. It’s great to have him back. Braydon (Sjoblom) works hard. Henry (Lee) and Brock (Okeson) have been great. All of them and everyone has been great. We just hate losing, even if it’s one play. We don’t like losing, especially to Perham.”

Detroit Lakes won the Battle for the Paddle for the eighth time since the rivalry was renewed in 2011. Mason Carrier, who couldn’t finish the game last year due to an injury, wanted to make up for lost time.

“I was angry last year. I knew I should’ve been on the field,” Mason Carrier said. “To come out here, play every drive and be out there the entire time and give it 100% so I don’t have any regret at the end of the game no matter what happens feels amazing. We gave it all we had. This is the result. I’m happy with it.”

Through two games, it looked like Mason Carrier’s most significant impact would be on the offensive side of the ball. Despite his commitment to play for PJ Fleck’s defense at the University of Minnesota, he was lined up under center at quarterback. That was until last week when Strand took over. While some would have a harder time stomaching the idea that they’re more valuable to their team in other positions, Mason Carrier was more than happy to pass the torch to the budding quarterback even after an impressive two games.

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Detroit Lakes' Ethan Carrier runs for a big gain in the Lakers' 49-6 win over Perham on Sept, 23, 2022 at Mollberg Field.
Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune

“I knew I was going to start the first couple of games until Caden Strand was ready,” Mason Carrier said. “The first drive against (Thief River Falls), he messed up a couple of plays on the first drive because he was nervous. I gave him a talk, and he was good from there.”

“I love playing fullback and defense. I got a couple of text messages from the Gophers asking why I was throwing the football around instead of playing defense,” Mason Carrier said jokingly.” I just love hitting guys. I’m glad Strand is playing QB. I’d take him over anyone. He’s a great kid.”

Hefta is thrilled to see Mason Carrier take this personnel change as a chance to solidify himself as a leader.

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“Each game is an opportunity for (Strand) to grow as a quarterback,” Hefta said. “We’re going to rely on him to be our guy. It’s fun to see him have some confidence and see him take his licks. He’s learning how to be a great football player. There was no one more excited for Caden Strand to start at quarterback than Mason Carrier. He puts this team first. He’s a selfless kid that works his tail off.”

At the midway point of the season, the Lakers are guaranteed a .500 record. However, the road gets much tougher starting next week with a road game against a much-improved Pequot Lakes team.

“We know the back half of our season is going to be the toughest part,” Mason Carrier said. “We have to get way meaner and way faster. We have to know our assignments. These next four games determine where we are in the section and what seed we’re going to get. We have it in us. We just have to come together and get it done.”

PERHAM 0 6 0 0 – 6

DETROIT LAKES 14 28 7 0 – 49

SCORING- FIRST QUARTER- DL- Ethan Carrier 79-yard TD run, Nick Bubotlz PAT good, 7-0, 11:40; DL- Caden Strand 12-yard TD pass to Grady Kirchner, Buboltz PAT good, 14-0, 0:51

SECOND QUARTER- DL- Ethan Carrier 87-yard TD Run, Bubuoltz PAT good, 21-0, 8:58; PERHAM- Braylonn Rach 84-yard TD run, PAT blocked, 21-6, 7:53; DL- Ethan Carrier 13-yard TD run, Buboltz PAT good, 28-6, 5:17; DL- Strand 77-yard TD pass to Mason Carrier, Buboltz PAT good, 35-6, 3:15; DL- Strand 25-yard TD pass to Carrier, Buboltz PAT good, 42-6, 1:03

THIRD QUARTER- DL- Tommy Suckert 4-yard TD run, Buboltz PAT good, 2:01

TEAM TOTALS- DL- 18 first downs, 403 rushing yards, 197 passing yards, 600 total yards, 8-10 third down, 1-1 fourth down; PERHAM- 6 first downs, 127 rushing yards, 70 passing yards, 3-11 third down, 0-4 fourth down

DL OFFENSE- RUSHING- Ethan Carrier 10 carries, 290 yards, 3 TD; Easton Wahl 9 carries, 41 yards; Caden Strand 6 carries, 28 yards; Tommy Suckert 7 carries, 27 yards; Mason Carrier 4 carries, 17 yards; Nick Buoltz 1 carry, 1 yard; PASSING- Strand 9-11, 197 yards, 3 TD; RECEIVING- M. Carrier 3 catches, 145 yards, 2 TD; Grady Kirchner 2 catches, 23 yards, TD; Jack Pace 2 catches, 12 yards; E. Carrier 1 catch, 15 yards; Charlie Kalina 1 catch, 2 yards

PERHAM OFFENSE- RUSHING- Braylon Rach 8 carries, 113 yards, TD; Noah Thompson 3 carries, 19 yards; Sawyer Dilbeck 2 carries, 4 cards; Hudson Hackel 6 carries, 4 yards; Tyrus Courdron 2 carries, 1 yard; Gage Aanenson 1 carry, -3 yards; Easton Kennedy 1 carry, -4 yards; Blaiz Schmidt 1 carry, -6 yards; PASSING- Schmidt 6-14, 46 yards; Kennedy 1-2, 24 yards; RECEIVING- Evan Kovash 4 catches, 39 yards; Thompson 2 catches, 7 yards; Brandon Sandberg 1 catch, 24 yards

Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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