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Shane Novak accounted for most of the highlights for New York Mills, including this 35-yard field goal, in a 31-5 loss to K-M-S. Robert Williams/FOCUS

Football: Eagles' trends continue, remain winless

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NEW YORK MILLS -- The Eagles football team dropped to 0-4 after an ugly 31-5 loss to Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg on a cold, blustery evening at home Friday night.

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Penalties and mental errors put the Eagles in a hole early, which is the unfortunate dilemma that has plagued the team all season.

"We lost to a very physical and fundamentally sound football team," Eagles' Head Coach Matt Radniecki said. "K-M-S didn't do anything that we didn't expect. They just executed and basically played error-free football. It was a very disappointing performance on our part in that we had penalties and turnovers again. Our team also didn't respond to the challenge of playing physical football. We really need to work on making some plays but eliminating turnovers so we don't give the other team scoring chances in our own territory."

K-M-S (2-0, 3-1) got on the board in the first quarter, but not without a little help from the Eagles.

The Fighting Saints faced a fourth and one at the Eagles' 12-yard line and were granted a free first down when quarterback Kyle Baker induced an offsides penalty by using a hard count, giving K-M-S a first down and goal from the six.

A facemask penalty on the Eagles erased the next play setting up first and goal from the three.

Zach Carlson scored from three yards out and the PAT kick was good for a 7-0 lead.

A stiff wind and accompanying rain blew straight down the field and K-M-S had the wind at their back during the first quarter.

The winds knocked down punt attempts by Charlie Peeters, as the Eagles failed to move the ball effectively, thus, giving K-M-S decent field position early.

This is the second trend in New York Mills' football games this season - a definite disadvantage in field position.

The Eagles were at midfield near the end of the first quarter facing a third and four. The Saints coaching staff utilized two timeouts to set up a punt, on fourth and four, into the wind.

The Saints' offense seemed comfortable and unaffected by the weather.

They opened up scoring in the second quarter by going to the air.

Baker hit Jacob Zvorak for 35 yards and got to the end zone on a 23-yard pass to Jordan Rothers.

The Eagles blocked the PAT kick and K-M-S led 13-0 with 8:26 remaining until halftime.

New York Mills quarterback Charlie Peeters and the offense had a chance, with the wind, to drive down the field and get back in the game.

However, a Peeters pass was picked off by Travis Lamecker giving the ball to K-M-S on the Eagles' 47-yard line.

Shane Novak saved the game, up to that point, by intercepting Baker and Novak utilized his speed to return the ball 45-yards to the Saints' 19.

A penalty negated a nice effort by Novak on a run off right tackle and the Eagles would get no closer to the goal line ending up in fourth and seven.

Peeters nearly hit Taylor Ericksrud with a pass to the end zone that fell incomplete on third down.

Novak lined up and aided by the wind booted a 35-yard field goal that had plenty of distance for the Eagles' only offensive points in the game.

"It seems like when something good happens we let the other team take the momentum right back," Radniecki said. "We kicked a great 35-yard field goal only to have K-M-S put together a drive that went 70 yards for a touchdown. That is when we need to learn to make a stop and get the ball back to our offense so we can keep the momentum and confidence on our side."

Turnovers continued to haunt the Eagles late in the first half.

While nearly in the grasp of a defender 15 yards behind the line of scrimmage, Peeters heaved a desperation pass with nobody but Saints near both Peeters and the thrown ball that was eventually picked off and K-M-S turned that turnover into points to lead 25-3 at the break on a 15-yard pass to Lameker.

Peeters was yanked from the ballgame and replaced by Dan Kraft after the interception that sent Coach Radniecki's clipboard flying in dismay.

Peeters would return to the game and accounted for all four interceptions.

A rather quiet offensive second half saw six points from the Saints' Rothers on a 21-yard touchdown run.

Defensive lineman Max Carlson made a tackle in the end zone for a safety for the only other points scored by New York Mills.

The Eagles racked up 70 yards on six penalties, which was more yardage than was gained on offense.

The Eagles rushed 26 times for 19 yards and completed six passes, of 17 attempts, for 37 yards, giving New York Mills 56 total yards for the game complimented, left-handedly, by the four interceptions.

The Saints put up 313 total yards.

First downs were 19-4, in favor of K-M-S. Rothers' 96 rushing yards, two touchdown runs and a touchdown reception led the Saints.

The Eagles (0-2, 0-4) travel to West Central Area (0-2, 1-3) looking for their first sniff at victory.

The Knights will be out for revenge. The Eagles defeated West Central 20-0 last season for the Eagles' only win of 2011.

The last Eagles' win before that game was a September 2010 meeting at K-M-S 26-13.

Bad stretches that last years are difficult to turnaround, as this year's team is finding out, like many of their former classmates have also endured.

From 2002-2007 the Eagles were 24-26. Since the 2007-08 campaign, New York Mills has a record of 3-43, with two winless seasons.

This season, the Eagles have been outscored 119-46 and have faced double-digit deficits early in all four contests.

All of the negative trends that have thwarted Eagle efforts have to be reversed to put a notch in the W column.

The best chance for that comes this Friday. A future look at the schedule pits the Eagles against 3-1 Ottertail Central, who defeated No. 10-1A Royalton with ease in Royalton.

OTC will be the final home game for New York Mills.

The Eagles will travel to Browerville, who defeated OTC when the Bulldogs were ranked No. 10.

To wrap up the regular season, the Eagles face No. 5-1A and undefeated Barnesville at FargoDome.

In four games, the Trojans are outscoring their opponents 173-38.

A loss next Friday at West Central Area nearly assures a third winless season since 2008-09 barring a big upset down the stretch.

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Robert Williams
Robert has been the Sports Editor for the Focus since 2010 covering multiple state and national championship teams and is a mainstay at state tournaments each season covering the successful, athletic programs of Perham and New York Mills High Schools.
(218) 346-5900 x223
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