By Shane Frederick
LE CENTER — Stuff a run. Sack the quarterback. Blow open a hole for a the game-opening touchdown.
The high school football season couldn’t have started better for Justin Perkins and the Le Center football team.
Perkins, a senior defensive and offensive lineman for the Wildcats, had three sacks and a forced fumble and helped the Wildcats score six rushing touchdowns Friday in a 57-7 nonconference victory over Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial.
“We came out ready to play right off the bat,” Perkins said.
Perkins sacked Knights quarterback Nate Meixell on the third play of the game. The Wildcats recovered a fumbled snap on the ensuing punt attempt a the 3-yard line, and running back Jake Hertaus scored two plays later.
“That set the tone,” Le Center coach Ken Helland said.
Indeed. The Wildcats scored points on their first eight possession to build a 49-0 lead midway through the third quarter.
Hertaus, a senior, had 11 carries for 76 yards and two touchdowns, including a 42-yard second-quarter scoring run on a fake reverse. Sophomore Mario Arroyo had 11 carries for 74 yards and two touchdowns. Senior quarterback Matt Collins ran for a 5-yard score and threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mitch Lang.
Lang, a senior, was 4 of 7 on PATs and also kicked a 35-yard field goal with no time remaining in the first half.
The Wildcats built a 37-0 lead at halftime and outgained the Knights 213-21 at the break.
“We played pretty well for the first day,” Helland said. “The offensive and defensive lines dominated the whole day for us. That’s going to be the key for our team.”
The Wildcats added second-half scores on junior backup quarterback Cody Bauleke’s 44-yard pass to senior Luke Traxler, and a run by freshman Ryan Zimmerman. The 5-foot-6, 221-pound Arroyo picked up almost all of his yards and one of his scores in the second half.
“All of our backs ran pretty hard,” Helland said. “The key to that is the holes in the front.”
The Knights got on the board in the third quarter on senior Tyler McMonagle’s 2-yard touchdown run. The score was set up by a 44-yard run by Meixell on a broken play and a 21-yard pass to senior Jordan Ziegler.
Kyle Pirron blocked a Wildcats extra-point kick.
“We’re very happy with how we did,” Perkins said. “We worked hard in the summer, and everything we did the past three weeks prepared us. But we can’t be satisfied; this is just the beginning. We just have to keep working hard.”
Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial (0-1) will host Minnesota Valley Lutheran Friday. Le Center (1-0) will travel to Mankato Loyola Friday.