FOREST LAKE, MN - It wasn’t how Forest Lake offensive tackle Patrick Kasl wanted to end his career at home, losing to Stillwater, 28-3, on senior night, but the loss summed up Kasl’s three year varsity career with the Rangers - winless.
Having a three-star offensive lineman listed at 6-6 and 290 pounds will certainly help teams stay competitive, but Kasl's record in varsity games the last three years have fallen to 0-27. With Kasl working at tackle, it was clear Forest Lake head coach Jeff Wilson wanted to run toward Kasl’s side early and often.
“We always like to run toward his side; we have (David) Jankowski on the other side at tackle who does a real nice job and helps take some pressure off of Kasl,” Wilson told BadgerNation. “If teams want to overload it, it is not a problem for us to switch and run to the other side. Obviously it is really tempting to run to his side; he’s going to do the job that needs to be done.”
The Rangers consistently ran the ball in the first half, rushing for 122 of the team’s 192 yards, but mental errors disrupted rhythm on offense. Kasl registered his first pancake on the third drive of the game, helping spring a 20-yard run – the longest of the game - by running back Prince Eiden.
From the point, Jankowski was called for a hold, following by an intentional grounding penalty by quarterback Payton Ziedler and then a pick six to give Stillwater a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Kasl helped the offense respond with his aggression, as the unit rushed for 78 yards on a second-quarter drive that resulted in a 25-yard field goal.
“Obviously there’s still a lot of growth left for him,” said Wilson of Kasl’s ability to run block. “They will continue to teach him when he gets to Wisconsin. He’s a very smart kid, as he’ll pick stuff up pretty easily. I just think his aggressiveness this year and confidence in his skills really changed. He realized that he can handle whoever they put in front of him, which made it easier for him.”
With Forest Lake down 21-3 at halftime, Stillwater neutralized the run game and dared the Rangers to beat them through the air. The formula worked, as the Rangers only reached Stillwater’s red zone once in the second half and failed to capitalize on a fourth-and-goal inside the 3-yard line.
“Stillwater did a nice job; they’re well coached and they were able to make the proper adjustments,” said Wilson. “We did miss a number of times with our blocks, which created opportunities for the defense to step in to stop the run.”
Despite Kasl being winless on the varsity level, Wilson is proud of how Kasl, who committed to Wisconsin in June, improved as a player and helped the 26 member senior class stick together throughout a challenging year.
“We had a real good core group of seniors that worked really hard in the offseason to prepare,” Wilson said. “It is really obvious watching them on the field in their successes. We are hoping that what the underclassmen had seen from those kids translate into them to continuing to work hard in the offseason. Great bunch of seniors who worked really hard, never complained about anything, wish they could have gotten a win.”