Thunder and then lightning was unleashed by the White Bear Lake Bears, on an otherwise pleasant Thursday evening, in the football opener.
Cam Zaleski was the thunder in a 46-6 win over Anoka, rumbling into the end zone four times in the first half, on bursts of four, seven, five and one yard, in his varsity debut.
Brice Peters was the lightning. A returning starter, he bolted 85 yards for touchdowns — twice — on a pass from Branden Berwald and a run off right tackle, both in the second half.
“We want Cam to have the ball in ‘downhill’ situations,” coach Ryan Bartlett said. “He is a strong kid, tough kid, and he can break tackles.”
Peters isn’t much of a tackle-breaker, but watch out if he sees daylight.
“Brice is explosive. He makes plays,” Bartlett said. “If he gets some space, he is hard to catch.”
Berwald threw just six passes but completed four for 154 yards. The junior QB’s first varsity pass was a 19-yard completion to John McBride. Peters had 170 of his 195 yards on those two plays, totaling 107 yards in six rushes, and 88 yards on two receptions. Zaleski carried 14 times for 65 yards.
Will Menier hit five of six passes for 34 yards in the fourth quarter when the backups took over, and Moses Hancock closed the scoring with a five-yard run.
The Bears defense came up with interceptions by Spencer Oxton and Will Flemons and held Anoka to 57 rushing yards in 28 attempts. The Tornadoes did gain 150 yards in the air, completing 15 of 25.
The Bears took a quick 20-0 with three straight “short” fields, all leading to Zaleski touchdowns.
‘We wanted the wind at our back in the first quarter,” Bartlett said, “thinking if we could get some three-and-outs from our defense we’d be in good position. And that worked out pretty well for us. We’ve been on the other side of that a few times.”
A sack by Monte Collins and Mitch Landsberger forced Anoka to punt from the goal line, and the punt was shanked out of bounds at the 25. The subsequent kickoff bounced off the Anoka return man and Caleb Mitchell recovered at the Anoka 18. The next series started at the 36 as Anoka had to punt from the back of the end zone after Collins snared their QB at the two on third down.
Anoka, a struggling program (1-17 the last two seasons), got on the board with a three-yard run by Cody Lindenberg late in the second half.
It looked like the half would end 20-6, as the Bears had a third-and-long at midfield with under a minute left. However, Berwald hit Rico Kirk in stride over the middle, and the 6-4 wide receiver took it 49 yards. He was tackled at the one and Zelaski scored from there.
Anoka ……………..... 0 6 0 0 — 6
White Bear Lake … 14 12 7 13 — 46
WBL—Cam Zaleski 4 run (Jeff Odamtten kick)
WBL—Zaleski 7 run (Odamtten kick)
WBL—Zaleski 5 run (kick failed)
Anoka—Cody Lindenberg 3 run (run failed)
WBL—Zaleski 1 run (kick failed)
WBL—Brice Peters 85 pass from Branden Berwald (Odamtten kick)
WBL—Peters 85 run (kick failed)
WBL—Moses Hancock 5 run (kick failed)