Knights drop football opener to perennial power R-P

Kingsland football players take a break under a fiery sunset during the season opener at Rushford-Peterson. The game started an hour earlier than usual due to the threat of rain. CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE
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The Kingsland football team dropped its season opener to perennial Class A power Rushford-Peterson 54-12 on Friday, Aug. 31, in Rushford.

After a quiet start to the game, the Trojans offense got going in a hurry, scoring through the air and on the ground. The Knights are 0-1 on the season (0-1 Mid-South East District). Despite the end result, Knights’ coach Brent Stinson said they started off the game playing hard.

“I thought it started very well,” Stinson said. “We were down 6-0 at the end of the first quarter. I thought we met them at the point of attack and were able to do some nice things. That being said, they were very athletic and very physical. They do a tremendous job of taking away what you want to do, and they don’t make a lot of mistakes.”

Rushford-Peterson scored touchdowns on its first eight possessions of the game. By way of comparison, the Knights offense had six punts and two turnovers on its first eight possessions, not scoring until late in the ballgame during their ninth possession. Stinson said the turnovers prevented Kingsland from getting any momentum going and gave the ball back to the Trojans with a short distance to go to the end zone.

“It’s a credit to the Trojans for playing a great game on their home field and they took away what we wanted to do,” Stinson said. “We just weren’t able to establish anything on offense. Defensively, they just ground on us and got some turnovers that led to good field position, which really changed momentum. A short field hurts.

“For the kids, turnovers like that mean a quick switch to defense,” he added. “More than anything, it’s a momentum swing. That carries over to the next play because they’re on a high after taking the ball away. Against a team like Rushford-Peterson that’s been a perennial top-five team in Class A for 10 years, you just can’t do that.”

Kingsland scored on two of its last three possessions. The Knights’ ninth possession turned into a seven-play, 70-yard scoring drive, capped off by a three-yard TD run from Noah Watson. The two-point conversion pass attempt fell incomplete. The Knights also scored on their last possession of the game, getting a three-yard TD run from freshman running back James Howard.

Three different Knights attempted a pass for the Kingsland offense, led by William Jahn’s 5-of-10 for 40 yards (two INT). The Knights struggled to move the ball on the ground, finishing with 28 total carries for a net 52 yards, 1.86 yards a carry. Watson was the top ground-gainer, getting 37 yards and one TD on four carries.

Rushford-Peterson quarterback Landon Skalet went 17-of-22 for 231 yards and five touchdowns. Triton Meldahl was the top rusher with nine carries for 61 yards and a touchdown. Ethan Sense added 10 carries for 59 yards and two TDs.

The Knights return to Spring Valley for their home opener on Friday night, Sept. 7, against St. Clair/Loyola. Stinson said the Spartans bring in a very athletic and quick quarterback, running back and wide receiver.

“They played a good game against Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity (39-17 win),” Stinson said. “We’re excited to get home and have the momentum of our home crowd. We’re going to have to play smart and disciplined because of the speed they have in their skill positions.

“We’ll also see what can look like a tornado from their defense,” he added. “They’ll be moving up and back and mixing different thing up front at the line. We’re also going to have to be disciplined offensively, especially up front, and know who we have to pick up along the offensive line.”