Brainerd Dispatch/Nels Norquist
Don't blink, you might miss Lynn Chheang.
The freshman wide receiver/kick returner/punt returner for the Central Lakes College Raiders football team has been dissecting defenses this season by using a dangerous mixture of speed and quickness.
So far Chheang has thrived in the Raiders' pass-happy offense. He ranks second in the state with 23 receptions for 260 yards and two touchdowns.
His best game of the season came in CLC's only win against Rainy River Sept. 11, where he caught four passes for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Against Vermilion on Sept. 25, Chheang displayed his pass-catching skills with 10 grabs for 81 yards.
Chheang also has a number of long punt returns. He was recently placed on the kick return team as CLC coach Dennis Eastman tries to get the ball in Chheang's hands whenever possible.
"Lynn's a game-breaker," Eastman said. "We're putting him on every special team because we have to take advantage of his speed. We have to get him at least 10 touches a game to give him an opportunity to do what he can do with the ball."
Chheang transferred from Concordia-St. Paul where he redshirted last year. After spending the season on the scout team, Chheang wasn't sure about his future in football.
School: Central Lakes College
Position: Wide receiver
Favorite route: 3-5-yard stop
Favorite NFL team: Packers
Favorite NFL player: Brett Favre
When the Concordia coaching staff left for Truman State University, Chheang wanted to kick-start his career again.
Concordia-St. Paul offensive coordinator Scott Strohmeier suggested CLC to Chheang, mostly because his brother Jim Strohmeier is the Raiders' offensive coordinator and runs an almost identical offense.
"I wasn't digging football right away at Concordia," Chheang said. "I was a redshirt and on the scout team and all the coaches left. That was my biggest influence in coming to CLC. We run a lot of the same offense as Concordia so I caught on very easily and there's a lot of passing, which is what I like."
The year spent on the Concordia scout team has served Chheang well. Even though he's a freshman, his knowledge of the game and experience enable him to play like a veteran.
"I'm more experienced than most of the wide receivers on the team," Chheang said. "I try to lead by example. I do everything to the best of my ability and go hard on every play. I try to show the younger players this is how its supposed to be done."
In addition to his speed and receiving ability, Chheang has the uncanny ability to know exactly where defenders are and make them miss.
"I just react to what the defense is doing," said Chheang. "I have pretty good vision and I can move to the open spot well. When I'm coming at a defender I'm confident that I can make a move so they don't get a solid hit on me and I'll be able to get a few extra yards."
A week full of practice never looked so good for the Raiders as they try to regroup after their third straight loss to North Division rival Rainy River last week.
The Raiders (6-2 North Division, 15-6 overall) are a game behind Rainy River for the division lead as they play at Mesabi Range College Friday and at Vermilion Saturday.
Outside hitter Courtney Stach is ranked fifth in the North in kills (2.84 per game) and Lane tenCate is sixth in kills (2.78 per game). Middle hitter Shannon McCarthy leads the state in blocking with 1.47 blocks per game.
TROY GUNDERSON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5865.
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