Josh Lanners just wants to continue to work.
If he’s working hard that means the Pierz Pioneers are still playing football and that’s what Lanners wants.
The Pierz junior running back and linebacker and the rest of the Pioneers have taken on this work-man-like attitude.
“I didn’t think we were going to be that good this year,” said Lanners. “Our whole line was seniors last year so we started fresh this year and they just worked hard. Our first game we started clicking and worked really hard. We just kept getting better and better.
“It’s been a really good season. We just keep working each week and we expect good things out of ourselves and we don’t want to fall short of that.”
Lanners’ work ethic was on display Nov. 4 at the Fargodome. He carried the ball 24 times for 138 yards and two touchdowns to lead Pierz to a 28-0 victory in the Section 6-2A final against Sauk Centre.
“He’s having a heck of a year,” said Pierz head coach Leo Pohlkamp. “He’s leading our team in rushing and defensively that’s where he really leads us. He led us in tackles last year and that was a key to this year. We didn’t’ know where to put him. Was he going to be a strong safety or was he going to play linebacker? We finally decided to put him right in the middle of the field so people couldn’t run away from him. He’s a very good open-field tackler.”
Offensively, Lanners has rushed for 1,205 yards and 18 touchdowns on 203 carries. He has 13 receptions for 198 yards and another score. He leads Pierz with 84 tackles. He also has two interceptions.
His importance on the defensive side was on full display against Sauk Centre’s feared Roosevelt Austin.
“Our whole defense was nervous about him,” Lanners said. “On film he would just run over people and run right past them all. Our plan was to hit him low and we did. He was physical. Even if you didn’t have the ball he would hit you hard. He was the most physical guy I’ve seen.”
Still Lanners and Pierz held the back to 39 yards on 11 carries and contained the Sauk Centre offense, giving up just 44 yards on 36 plays.
“I was very surprised by that number,” Lanners said. “That was the best defensive game we’ve played all year and (Sauk Centre) looked pretty solid. The whole game we just shut them down.”
In a 20-0 Section 6-2A semifinal win over Holdingford Oct. 29, Lanners rushed for 108 yards on 23 carries. He carried the ball just nine times for 78 yards and a touchdown in a 47-7 win over Wadena-Deer Creek in the quarterfinals Oct. 25.
“He’s a quiet kid, but he works hard,” said Pohlkamp. “What I like about him is he never loses yardage. He can get stood up and just slide off and always fall forward for one or two more yards.
“The way to describe him is he’s not a fast kid, but he’s a quick kid. I’ll take a quick kid every time. He has very good feet. He has fantastic footwork. He’ll cut right and run into a tackle and slide off. He makes people miss.
“His best asset is he has quick feet and makes cuts. He doesn’t run away from too many people, but he has decent speed.”
Other notable performances:
Football: Logan Lange, Pequot Lakes, rushed for 124 yards on 23 carries against Perham.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.