Knights winless at halfway point in football

Devin Carr grabs a streaking Fillmore Central ball carrier while Kingsland teammate Austin Stephans pursues. CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
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The Kingsland football team is still looking for a consistent game from start-to-finish as the Knights dropped their fourth straight game to Fillmore Central 41-6 in Harmony on Friday night.

As has been the case this season, a couple key mistakes led to quick opponent points and the Knights were unable to mount any sort of comeback. With the loss, the Knights are 0-4 (0-3 district) at the halfway point of the football season.

“It was a tough game against a physical ball club, but I thought we played one of our more complete games of the season,” said Knights coach Brent Stinson. “From tackle-to-tackle along the offensive and defensive lines, I thought we played very well against a solid, physical, and well-coached team in Fillmore Central.

“We were very pleased in a lot of areas, especially being able to run the ball well between the tackles,” he added. “We gave them three interceptions and short fields to work with on offense. They didn’t make any mistakes and they capitalized on ours, which was the difference in the game.”

The Falcons consistently found themselves with a short distance to go for a potential score after the big momentum swing caused by Kingsland turnovers in the Knights’ end of the field. The home crowd gets even louder, and players get frustrated because of mistakes. Stinson said it’s much easier to have to go 30 yards to the end zone versus having to go 80.

The Falcons came out strong after dropping back-to-back games against state-ranked teams (Blooming Prairie, Rushford-Peterson). They put 14 points on the scoreboard in each of the first two quarters to take a 28-0 halftime lead. Fillmore Central added another 13 points and led 41-0 before the Knights got their first and only touchdown of the game. Nick Ramaker hit Reid Kruegel for the lone Kingsland score in the fourth quarter.

Ramaker finished the game eight of 17 passing for 64 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions. Dallas Jones led the Kingsland ground game with 68 yards on 15 carries and Noah Watson added three rushes for 10 yards. Kruegel was Ramaker’s favorite target, pulling in four catches for 30 yards and the lone Knight score. Reed Merkel and Jones both had one catch for 11 yards.

The Knights lost three offensive linemen earlier in the season, which meant some new faces had to learn to play together in a short period of time. Two of the linemen will be able to return soon and provide some depth up front for the Knights. Other than that, Stinson said the team is getting some quality reps against good teams with a consistent lineup every week.

“We are developing more team cohesion so far,” Stinson said. “The teams we’ve played so far are very good programs and they’ve had things in place for their kids for several years. That makes them confident and strong in what they do.”

The key to getting things moving in the right direction in the second half of the season has a lot to do with the opening minutes of the first quarter. It’s all about emotion at the start of each game.

“We need to come out more with our hair on fire,” Stinson said. “We need more emotion and attitude when it hits 7:00. I told the players that we need to find a way to be self-motivated to play at your best for 48 minutes. We need our kids to get mentally prepared to come out and play the game at 100 miles-per-hour.

“It’s a hard thing to fall behind like we did against Fillmore Central and play uphill,” Stinson said. “I don’t care who you’re playing against, either. That’s tough to do.”

The Knights return home to Spring Valley this Friday night against winless Wabasha-Kellogg (0-4, 0-4 district). Stinson said Kingsland will see an offense that’s been around likely since before their parents were born.

“It’s the old single-wing offense that started back in the 1940s,” Stinson said. “They’re one of the few teams in the entire state that run a single-wing offense. There will be multiple guys in the backfield that can receive the snap from center. The quarterback will spin in a half-circle and we won’t know who has the football.

“He could potentially give it one of the other guys in the backfield or he can keep it himself and either run or throw,” Stinson said. “It’s really a difficult offense to prepare for because it’s hard to mimic at full speed in our practices. Their kids have been running that spin offense since they were in fifth grade so they’re very good at it and know what they’re doing.”

Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. on Friday night, Sept. 28.