Knights conclude season as they eye switch to nine-man schedule in 2019

Mathew Schwanke (54) blocks up front against Blooming Prairie with help from Kingsland teammates Austin Stephans (71) and Carleton Corson (61). CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
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The Kingsland football team had its season wrap up in the first round of the Section 1A playoffs, falling to No. 1 seed Blooming Prairie 53-20 on Tuesday, Oct. 23.

The No. 8 seed Knights wrapped up a rebuilding year with a road loss and finished 1-8 overall (1-6 sub-district). The 20 points against Blooming Prairie was the third-highest scoring game of the season for Kingsland. It was similar to many of their other games in which the young Knights played good spurts of football but couldn’t put together a complete game. 

“I thought we were able to find some matchups we liked because of the speed we have,” said Knights’ coach Brent Stinson. “We thought we established some things and were able to take some chances against a good team. In the first few possessions of the game, we had passes that hit off the hands of intended receivers and fell incomplete. You make a few of those plays and the game score changes quite a bit.

“They have an awful lot of speed,” he added. “It’s awfully hard to mimic the speed and the experience BP has in practice as you prepare for the game. But the guys played as hard as they could, while Blooming Prairie just made a few more plays than we did.”

Stinson said Blooming Prairie is a hard team to run on successfully. The Blossoms’ stand-up defensive ends do a great job of keeping containment on outside runs and turning it back into the teeth of the defense.  The Blossoms also have two good linebackers that pursue the football very well.

Yards were hard to come by against BP. William Jahn completed two of 12 passing attempts for 68 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Top running back Dallas Jones carried the ball 11 times for just 37 yards. Nick Ramaker added three rushes for eight yards and one touchdown. Jahn had four carries for 15 yards and one TD. Reid Kruegel had one catch on the night, but it was a big one.

“We had the opportunity to make some big plays,” he said. “Our biggest play was a 65-yard pass to Reid Kruegel. For a team like ours that’s been through a lot of adversity, especially with injuries, all you want is to have chances to make plays.”

Defensively, Kruegel (one assist) and Lucas Howard (two assists) tied for the team lead with five solo tackles each. Devin Carr added two tackles and one interception.

“As a program, we feel the kids took big steps forward,” Stinson added. “It takes time and doesn’t happen overnight. We’re excited because we were able to score some points and make big plays at times this season. We are so proud of these kids and the effort they gave us. Improving the execution will come with more experience, repetitions, and time in the summer.”

Stinson said the coaching staff is looking forward to the offseason work that builds a program. He said the offseason conditioning already started this Monday, Oct. 29, at 6:15 a.m. in the gym. As the Knights look to next season, the schedule will look a lot different as Kingsland moves to nine-man football.

“With the move, we can almost play an entire team of seniors next season,” Stinson said. “With that said, there will still be a big learning curve. This spring and summer, we’ll be putting a lot of time in to make the transition successful. We’ve raised the bar for expectations and accountability, which the kids did a good job with last summer. Now it’s time to take another step up.

“We’ll lift weights three-to-four times a week in the offseason,” he said. “We’ll have a good stretch of time to work on getting bigger and stronger. The summertime work involves getting them in condition and ready to go for next fall, already. We’ll head to a team camp at Minnesota-State Mankato. When the season starts, two weeks is not enough time to get them ready. It just doesn’t happen that way.

“We’re looking forward to getting started on preparing for nine-man football,” Stinson said. “It’s an exciting time.”