Rosemount senior Max Ritter isn't one of those soccer players moonlighting as a football kicker on game days. Rather, he trained four years for what became the biggest kick of his career Friday.
Ritter booted his team to a 10-7 victory with a 35-yard field goal with 1 minute, 38 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Rosemount, 5-0 and ranked third in both the Metro Top 10 and Class 6A state poll, soured homecoming for defending statechampion Lakeville South, 3-2 and ranked sixth in both polls.
After trading BMX biking for football, Ritter toiled on junior varsity behind Rosemount's excellent varsity kicker Leyton Simmering, who is now on Kansas State's roster. Working with Simmering, plus Irish kicking coach Ken Becka and Special Teams Football Academy owner Chris Husby, made Ritter ready for the moment in his first varsity season.
Ritter believes the right mentality is "the biggest part of the game because if you can't deal with the pressure, you can't kick."
Rosemount's defense made the slim lead stand. The unit entered the game allowing 7.8 points per game, fewest among the 32 Class 6A teams. The Irish maintained their stingy ways on a night when Lakeville South's defense was almost as good.
Owen McCloud led the Cougars with nine tackles. Teammate Ryder Patterson added seven.
"You allow 10 points, and you hope that's enough to win," Cougars coach Ben Burk said, adding that his team's vaunted Power-T offense wasn't in gear much of the night.
South did go ahead first. Patterson became the correct answer for seemingly every question the Cougars faced on their lone scoring drive. He caught a long third-down pass to get South in scoring territory. Then he ran for a first down on fourth-and-3. One play later, Patterson ran for a 5-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Before Friday, Lakeville South averaged 38 points per game, second in Class 6A.
"Scoring seven points is tough," Burk said. "Our goal is always 21. We went backward, and in this offense you can't go backward."
Rosemount took three victories out of an arduous stretch of slugfests against Lakeville North, Eden Prairie and Lakeville South.
"You recover right before the next game," Irish senior defensive lineman Hayden Bills said. "Then you just beat the heck out of yourself again."