Knights get strong start vs. defending nine-man champs

CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Noah Watson picks up some yards for the Knights in the game against Spring Grove.

CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Matthew Schwanke blocks in Kingsland’s game against Spring Grove.

CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Michael Watson (51) and Kingsland teammate Andrew Ramaker (75) bring down Spring Grove running back Hunter Holland.

CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE A wide-open Lucas Howard hauls in a touchdown pass for the Knights vs. Spring Grove.

CHRISTINE VREEMAN/SPRING VALLEY TRIBUNE Kingsland’s Dakota Hammand wraps up Spring Grove quarterback Chandler Bergrud.
Chad Smith

The Kingsland football team had its best statistical football game of the season but came up short at Spring Grove 46-18 on Friday night.

The Knights led the two-time defending state nine-man champions 12-6 before the Lions scored twice in 31 seconds to take a two-score lead at halftime. At the halfway point of the season, Kingsland is looking for their elusive first win of the season. The Knights are 0-4 overall (0-3 sub-district).

Knights’ coach Brent Stinson said his team went right at the two-time state champs and was very proud of the effort. “Twice, we either had the lead or were an extra-point away from taking the lead on the two-time champs,” he said. “We’ve had some adversity this year with injuries and the Spring Grove game was no exception.

“We were missing our starting quarterback,” Stinson added. “William Jahn didn’t play the whole game. Ethan Imm, who started at cornerback for us last week, hurt his ankle in a B squad game and couldn’t play either.”

Senior Nick Ramaker filled in under center and played very well. He threw for 196 yards through the air and led the team to 320 yards in total offense. Stinson said the team left even more yards out there on the field against No. 12-ranked Spring Grove. Neither team was dominant in the running game. Both teams gained the bulk of their yards through the air.

Ramaker completed seven passes in 20 attempts for 196 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. Devin Carr caught two of those passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. Lucas Howard added one catch for 51 yards and a TD. James Howard caught one for 44 yards and Reed Merkel added a catch for 39 yards.

Three Kingsland runners combined for 30 attempts and 115 yards running. James Howard was the most successful runner, carrying it 16 times for 67 yards (4.1 yards per carry). Lucas Howard ran it six times for 27 yards and the only rushing TD for the Knights. Noah Watson ran it eight times for 21 yards. However, in total, the Knights ran the ball a total of 47 times for a net 101 yards (2.1 yards a carry).

Spring Grove quarterback Chandler Bergrud is more-than-capably filling the shoes of graduated four-year starter Alex Folz. He finished the night completing 16 of 23 passes for 361 yards and five touchdowns. Wideout Caden Grinde was his favorite target, grabbing five passes for 124 yards and a TD. The Kingsland defense held the Lions to a combined total of 26 rushing attempts for 76 yards (2.9 yards a carry) and two TDs on the ground.

The Kingsland defense stopped all eight third-down plays by Spring Grove, as well as the Lions’ only fourth-down conversion attempt. Kingsland controlled the ball well, running 70 plays to 49 for Spring Grove. The difference in the game was Spring Grove’s big plays through the air, as nine pass plays went for 20-or-more yards.

“They caught us in a few defensive alignments in which we didn’t communicate well out on the field,” Stinson recalled. “We did shut down their run game. It was just the big plays on the edge that hurt us.”

Carr finished with a team-high seven solo tackles for the Kingsland defense, as did Ashton Kohn. Kaden Rath added four tackles, while Reed Merkel had two tackles and an interception.

“We had a few key penalties when we were stuck deep in our own end, which makes it tough to generate momentum,” he said. For example, a bad punt snap gave the ball to Spring Grove at the Kingsland 13, and the Lions scored a touchdown off that mistake with just 26 seconds left before halftime.

“I give a lot of credit to (Spring Grove coach) Zach Hauser and his team,” Stinson said. “Caden Grinde had a really nice game for them at wide receiver.”


The second half of the season begins on Friday night, Sept. 27, with a road trip to Lanesboro to face the Burros (1-3). Lanesboro is coming off a 49-24 loss to Grand Meadow last Friday night. Their lone win this year came in the season opener at Mabel-Canton 25-6. Stinson said the Burros are coming to run the football.

“They’re physical up front and they have some athletic playmakers at quarterback and running back,” he said. “Our focus will have to be shutting down the inside running game and the counter handoffs they’ll use to try and get us going in the wrong direction. It’s going to take some discipline on defense.”