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Metro Top 10: How will Shakopee fight adversity?

By JIM PAULSEN, Star Tribune, 10/10/21, 4:15PM CDT


How the Sabers adapt to the loss of their starting quarterback could determine their season.

Shakopee quarterback Leyton Kerns leaped over Eden Prairie defenders as he scrambled in the first half. (Photo by Alex Kormann, Star Tribune)

Shakopee was flying high, living up to preseason expectations — exceeding them, actually — when reality splashed cold water in the Sabers’ collective faces.

Quarterback Dominic Jackson, the junior who made the read-option offense go, tore an ACL in his knee in their victory over Edina two weeks ago.

Shakopee’s success was due to far more than a single player. They’re big and deep and deserved to be ranked as highly as they were. But Jackson has proved difficult to replace in the weeks following his injury.

After averaging nearly 50 points during the first four weeks of the season, the Sabers managed just nine total in their past two games. And Thursday, they host the state’s best team in Lakeville South.

All of which is evidence of how easily a season can change in a moment. Shakopee is surely not giving up. Coach Ray Betton is one of the best in the metro and knows how to develop the type of esprit de corps that runs through successful program. The Sabers have the foundation in place for a run of success. Running backs Jadon Hellerud and Chandler Ross Jr. will have to pick up the offensive slack while sophomore QB Leyton Kerns gains experience. The defense has already stepped up with one shutout and should continue to do so.

How they deal with this stretch of adversity will say a lot about how their season will turn out.

Metro Top 10

1. Lakeville South (6-0), def. Prior Lake 25-13: Like a heavyweight champ, the Cougars keep knocking out all comers.

2. Eden Prairie (5-1), def. Shakopee 23-0. This is the Eden Prairie to which we’re accustomed: suffocating and physical.

3. Centennial (4-2), def. Blaine 26-14. I love the Cougars approach: straight-forward, nothing fancy or elaborate, back-to-the-basics football.

4. Stillwater (6-0), def. Forest Lake 37-6. As the season goes on, the Ponies’ confidence keeps growing and they keep getting better.

5. Maple Grove (5-1), def. Wayzata 21-3. The Maple Grove defense stood firm until the Crimson offense found its groove.

6. Minnetonka (5-1), def. Totino-Grace 41-8. How’s this for offensive balance: The Skippers average 140.2 yards passing, 136.3 rushing.

7. Shakopee (5-1), lost to Eden Prairie 23-0.

8. Woodbury (5-1), def. Park of Cottage Grove 55-21. Sophomore George Bjellos is the most unsung QB in the metro with 1,235 yards passing and 17 TDs.

9. St. Thomas Academy (6-0, 5A), def. Mahtomedi 18-13. A touchdown from Love Adebayo on the final play of the game kept the Cadets undefeated.

10. Andover (6-0, 5A), def. Coon Rapids 49-13: A three-touchdown burst in 3:33 of the first quarter put the game away early.

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