Area Male Athlete: C-I's Larson taking the lead
Jake Larson Year: Sophomore School: Crosby-Ironton Sport: Football Position: Running back, cornerback Highlights: Rushed for 158 yards, caught two passes for 15 yards, picked off two passes and returned punt for score against Hibbing Jake Larson ...
Position: Running back, cornerback
Highlights: Rushed for 158 yards, caught two passes for 15 yards, picked off two passes and returned punt for score against Hibbing
Jake Larson was supposed to play a complementary role.
After the first two weeks of the prep football season, Larson is getting nothing but complements.
The sophomore running back rushed for 158 yards on 25 carries. He caught two passes for 15 yards and returned a punt 60 yards for a touchdown. He also picked off two passes, returning one to the Hibbing 1-yard line. That resulted in a Noah Gindorff 1-yard touchdown run. All that led to a 40-28 victory over Hibbing Sept. 5.
"We thought he would be a nice complement to players like Daniel Hudrlik and Brady Tesdahl, but he's become a serious impact player," said Rangers head coach Mike Gindorff. "He can catch and run and he's a good blocker. He's a triple-threat type of guy in that way.
"He has excellent vision and so many teams are focused on Daniel. Plus, he has a pretty good offensive line in front of him."
Gindorff said Larson has the ability to rush between the tackles as well as attacking the outside. Most of Larson's rushing yards against Hibbing came on a quick pitch.
"It's a really good play," said Larson. "I love that play. It worked really good because I had good lead blockers like Daniel and Brady Tesdahl and a pretty good line in front of me. Our line is doing a good job of blocking."
Larson said he enjoyed great blocking in front of him during his punt return.
The punt was coming to me and all I heard was Daniel saying, 'Follow me,'" said Larson. "So I had his lead block and there was a huge hole in the middle of the field. I broke through that hole and someone locked up the last guy I had to beat. It was an all-around good play. There was a big hole in the middle."
After two games, Larson has 287 rushing yards and a touchdown on 42 carries. He has three receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown. On two punt returns, he's gained 66 yards and a score. He's also returned two kicks for 60 yards.
Defensively, to go with his two interceptions, he has 12 tackles. Larson's second interception against Hibbing led to a touchdown, but Larson almost finished the deal himself.
"They were running a fade and he was just on his guy like a glove," said Gindorff. "The ball was underthrown so Jake turned back and picked it off. Then he is so good with the ball he just started running it back. He got caught at the three-yard line and he just ran out of gas."
Larson admitted he struggled playing cornerback last season. He moved from linebacker to corner last season and called it a big switch.
"We have good coaches and they are coaching us really hard," said Larson. "I'm doing a lot better. I'm starting to get the hang of it. I made one mistake in that Hibbing game, but I got used to what they were trying to do. This year is going good. It can only get better."
They'll need to get better as C-I faces a high-powered Braham team Sept. 19. Braham has outscored its first two opponents 72-14. The Rangers are 2-0 and Larson says a lot of that has to do with the senior leaders.
"This season I was just hoping to put my assets out there on the field," said Larson. "We have a really determined team this year. We have good captains that push us all and make us better players. I just try my best every game and do what I have to do."
Last season, Larson rushed for 206 yards and two touchdowns on 34 carries and caught one pass for three yards. He also returned four kickoffs for 20 yards and three punts for 51 yards. Defensively he finished with 41 total tackles, which included 18 solo tackles.
"He's a great kid," said Gindorff. "He's a good student and a just a good teammate."
Other notable performances:
Cross country: TJ Lukenan, Pine River-Backus, won the Pequot Lakes Invite in 18:34.
Soccer: Frederico Zonca, Little Falls, finished with three goals and an assist against Walker-Hackensack-Akeley and scored three goals against Becker and two more against Detroit Lakes.
Sam Beam, Little Falls, finished with three goals against Detroit Lakes.
Football: Colter Ehrmantraut, Verndale, rushed for 110 yards on 22 carries and caught two passes for 33 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown pass against Underwood.
Zach Struss, Pine River-Backus, passed for 211 yards and two touchdowns against Badger/Greenbush-Middle River.
Noah Gindorff, Crosby-Ironton, threw for a touchdown pass and rushed in three more against Hibbing.
CJ Borleis, Pequot Lakes, passed for two scores and rushed in two more against Park Rapids.
Robbie Skiba, Pierz, rushed for 163 yards, including a 57-yard TD run, against Maple Lake.