Knights get first-ever nine-man football win


CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Noah Watson finds a seam in the Lyle/Pacelli defense to pick up some yards for Kingsland.

CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Nick Ramaker sacks the Lyle/Pacelli quarterback for the Knights. Closing in to help him are James Howard (20) and Matthew Schwanke (15).

CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Kingsland’s Lucas Howard tries to get around a Lyle/Pacelli defender.

CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Ashton Kohn and Kingsland teammate Devin Carr break up a Lyle/Pacelli pass.
By: 
Chad Smith

It was a long time coming but the Kingsland football team broke into the win column on Friday night, thanks to a 14-6 home victory over Lyle/Pacelli.

Knights’ coach Brent Stinson said the team put in a lot of hard work to get that first “W” and break an eight-game losing streak dating back to last season. The Knights are 1-5 overall (1-4 sub-district).

“They really rose to the occasion,” Stinson said. “They put in a lot of work and it paid off. Some of these kids had to play four years ago as freshmen right after the year they forfeited (a playoff game at Rushford-Peterson). The kids faced a lot of adversity this year and some of our seniors had to overcome some bumps and bruises to keep things going forward Friday night.”

To win what was a low-scoring game for both squads, the Kingsland defense had to play exceptionally well. “Our defense had a total of nine tackles for loss,” Stinson said as he scanned the stat sheet. The Knights also finished with six sacks and one interception. “We pursued the ball well, something we’d worked on all week. The defense also made sure one of their best playmakers was a non-factor in the game.”

Lucas Howard finished with a team-high 11 tackles (8 solos, 3 assists), along with two tackles-for-loss and one interception. Matthew Schwanke chipped in seven solo tackles and one assist while getting two sacks as well. Devin Carr had six solo tackles and two assists. Nick Ramaker add five tackles, including three for losses, as well as three sacks.

“We controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” Stinson said. “Our blocking up front got the running game going. They’d come into the game after breaking a 31-game losing streak the week before. We knew if we came at them hard, the air would likely go out of them quickly.”

The Kingsland ground attack had 41 rushing attempts for 136 yards, including one touchdown and one two-point conversion. James Howard had 15 carries for 75 yards (5 yards per carry) and the successful two-point conversion. Lucas Howard added 12 carries for 60 yards and a TD. Carr had six rushes for 23 yards.

The Knights didn’t pass the ball a lot, but thanks to the running game they didn’t need to. William Jahn hit four of only six attempts for 39 yards, including a 22-yard TD toss to Reed Merkel, his only catch of the game. Noah Watson added two catches for 13 yards.

Injuries once again forced the Kingsland football team to slide players into positions the team hadn’t had much time to practice for.

“For example, William Jahn played safety against Lyle/Pacelli,” he said. “He hasn’t played safety all year. Matthew Schwanke went from tight end to left guard and played very well. He played there full-time last year but had been a tight end this entire season.”

Stinson said they talked all week about stepping up and making plays. “They took all the lessons they’ve learned over the last four years, stayed together,” he said, “and they went out and made some plays to win the game. It put a nice cap on Senior Night and Parents Night.”

Schedule

The Knights have a tough test in their final road game of the regular-season schedule, heading to face Southland at Adams on Friday night, Oct. 11. The Rebels are 5-1 overall after they beat Lanesboro 12-0 last week, and they were ranked at No. 7 in the most-recent nine-man state top 10 poll. Stinson said the Rebels will be one of the most physical teams they’ll face this year.

“They beat Lanesboro despite missing four guys who were out with injuries, which is impressive,” he said. “Not only are they physical but they play fast too. We’ll need to match their intensity along the line on both sides of the football. Their kids have played together a long time and they’re very disciplined at what they do.

“They will run the ball a lot with their physicality, but they can mix more of a passing game in this year, too.”