Posted On: 10/27/19 11:37 PM

The section 5AAAAA semifinal contest between Spring Lake Park Panthers and the visiting Irondale Knights was a aggressive and physical contest that was fun to watch if you enjoy impressive defensive play. Both sides balled out and had some dudes on their defense, but a few performances were notable enough to deserve recognition in this edition of Northstar Football News Top Defensive Performances in the class 5A matchup from Saturday afternoon.

Blaine Cooper wears #1 for the Panthers and is the captain of their defense while playing as an undersized MLB at 6’1, 175 lbs. However, Cooper was arguably top defensive player of the afternoon. The senior was fast and tenacious in his finding of the football, and this led to 10 tackles and a sack on the day. He also had one of the biggest hits of the afternoon, as he met the Irondale RB in the hole early in the 1st half with a hit that popped so loud it sounded like a car rear ended a pole in the parking lot. He was fun to watch and the most athletic defender on the field for the Panthers.

-He was mentioned in my game recap, but Irondale’s MLB  Trent Taylor Trent Taylor LB Irondale | 2021 State MN  (6’2, 227) was one of the biggest kids on the field and played behind his pads just how someone with his combination of size and strength should. He was the most imposing players on the field for Irondale, and he also had a huge hit during the game for a key 3rd down stop in the 2nd quarter. Taylor made plays at clutch times for the Knights defense, and will be one of the best linebackers in the conference next year during his senior season. 

Jakobe Bass Jakobe Bass RB Irondale | 2020 State MN  (5’11, 185) is a Northern Sun DB recruit that I was excited to watch play. He definitely showed up, and was a consistent tackler and had impressive ball skills to go along with his energy and enthusiasm he brought to the game. When the ball was in the air, Bass played with good technique and stayed calm, which resulted in a couple endzone PBU’s that were fun to see. I hope he is playing on Saturday’s somewhere next year.

-Despite playing primarily running back for the Panthers, 2021 Henry Dennis Henry Dennis RB Spring Lake Park | 2021 State MN (5’11, 190) delivered my favorite defensive play of the ball game. On the opening kickoff of the 2nd half, Dennis was on the kickoff unit for SLP. After the ball was kicked, Dennis got his 190 lb. frame going in a hurry and plowed over a would-be Knight blocker on the first line of the Irondale KOR unit. The resulting pop was loud, and the blocker was a lot bigger than Dennis. He followed that up by decleating another attempted Irondale blocker, and then smacked the returner for a tackler behind the 25-yard line of Irondale. It was lit.

Irondale also had a primarily offensive player make the defensive POTW awards as well. After an int by the backup QB of Irondale, 6’4, 221 lb. 2020 WR Ignatius Ejiofor ran down the Panther DB who made the interception, and made one of more impressive football plays one can make as he stripped the defender of the ball on a huge hit, and the Knights fell on it and retained possession. After a few great catches on offense by Ejiofor, I was all in on the senior and hopes he is being recruited to play college ball.