DES LACS - Des Lacs-Burlington coach James Johnson worried a letdown was looming.
A chilly Thursday evening game ... on a short week of preparation ... following an emotionally draining road win at Harvey-Wells County six days prior. It had all the ingredients for disaster.
On the No. 5 Lakers' first offensive play, junior running back Brett Schaefer soothed his coach's anxious feeling with a 51-yard dash down the sideline to set up an early score.
Des Lacs-Burlington junior running back Brett Schaefer rushes for 51 yards on the Class A No. 5 Lakers’ first offensive play against visiting Bottineau on Thursday night.
DL-B (6-0 overall, 5-0 Region 3) found the end zone two plays later, and the Lakers walloped Bottineau 36-0.
"It really set the team off to a good start," Schaefer said. "The first play, to get a big run really set the tone for the whole game."
Schaefer carried 11 times for 108 yards and senior quarterback Austin Schestler completed 7 of 12 passes for 135 yards.
Following Schaefer's waltz down the Bottineau sideline, junior running back Eric Knutson barreled in from 5 yards.
The Lakers smothered Bottineau's offense in the first half, not allowing a positive yard on the Braves' first two possessions. They limited Bottineau (1-5, 1-4) to 109 yards and six first downs en route to their first shutout of the season.
"I think our defense has played pretty well all year," Johnson said. "I'm pretty happy with where we're at. We've got a ways to go, but we're getting there."
Schestler passed for a pair of touchdowns - a 17-yard strike to senior tight end Tanner Holte and a dump to senior receiver Cole Edwards for 23 yards - to put DL-B ahead 22-0 at halftime.
Bottineau negated nearly all of its yards in the opening half (57) with six penalties for 55 yards. The Braves found themselves in third-and-38 and first-and-30 situations on separate drives. On the final drive of the first half, they wasted their best scoring opportunity - second-and-1 from the Lakers' 1-yard line - with false start and intentional grounding penalties, resulting in third and fourth downs from the 21-yard line.
To begin the second half, Schaefer found the end zone twice in a span of 27 seconds.
The shifty junior closed out a nine-play, 62-yard drive with a dive from 2 yards out.
Edwards recovered a Braves fumble 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff return, and Schaefer ran in for a 20-yard score two plays later.
Johnson and Schaefer both lauded the Lakers' young, but steadily improving offensive line.
"If I don't have them, I don't get my yards," Schaefer said. "That's the bread and butter of what I do. If I don't have them and my fullback ... that's what keeps us going."
The Braves strung together three consecutive first downs to drive deep into DL-B territory in the waning moments of the fourth quarter, but junior running back Ethan Kerslake coughed up the ball, allowing the Lakers to run out the clock.
In its first week ranked in the Class A media poll, DL-B proved worthy of its No. 5 distinction. Given the circumstances, Johnson's simply relieved the ranking lasted one week.
"I was really afraid of a little bit of letdown," he said. "We came out and got on the board early and I was pretty happy with how things went."
Ryan Holmgren covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @ryanholmgren.