Lancers roll to three-straight
Concordia Academy/New Life Academy football coach Mitch Jensen wasn't sure what this half-time pep talk was going to be like.
His team had 250 yards rushing in the opening half of its homecoming game against Providence Academy.
Yet it was losing, 15-13.
"In the locker room, coach was telling us statistically, we were dominating them," said Lancers co-captain Lowell Schoenherr. "But our defense was playing really flat."
Consider the problem fixed.
The Lancers took their third-straight victory of their 2006 campaign, beating Providence Academy 33-15 after turning out 422 yards rushing on 46 carries in Minneapolis Friday night.
"I don't remember winning three games in a row, ever," Jensen said. "I don't remember it happening. We're 3-3, we're at .500 and the kids are feeling good about the season."
It was an evening full of landmark occasions.
Besides three straight wins, tailback Joey Graybill broke the school's rushing yards per-game record after recording 338 yards rushing on 31 carries in the Week 6 contest.
On the season, the junior Lancer is sitting at 825 rushing yards, while Class of 2006 New Life Academy standout Josh Wallert was the first athlete Jensen ever had to rush over 1,000 yards in one season.
With two regular-season games left and a playoff appearance already in the bank, Graybill has scored
62 points and along with teammate Robbie West, has made four sacks this season. Fellow Lancer Mitch Peterson has five.
It's all an accumulation of a lofty season for the Lancers.
Concordia/New Life Academy opened its season with a 43-0 loss to Le Center, a team that is now 5-1 on the season and is second in the Gopher Valley A conference only to Blooming Prairie (6-0).
After falling to Lake Crystal-Wellcome 21-14, the Lancers met conference leader Blooming Prairie in Week 3 and fell, 47-6.
The opening loss against a good team gave the squad's defense confidence, Schoenherr said, and the following contest was a good trial run for the offense.
But the team's third loss was something different. It was the staging ground for a turn around.
"We saw we weren't playing with a lot of heart and we saw the rest of our season could go like this," Schoenherr said. "We broke down there and told the guys we didn't want our senior season to be that way."
Concordia hasn't lost since.
The Lancers (3-3, 2-3 conference) went on to beat West Lutheran 21-20, Bethleham Academy 28-15 and Providence 33-15, locking a playoff game after six weeks of play -- a historical run for the athletes from New Life Academy, who recorded two wins last season.
"I think our offensive line has matured," Schoenherr said. "We've been playing together for four years, and I think that's helped the rushing game. With Joey, Joey is just a phenomenal running back and he's an ultimate team player. He's always talking about team first."
That team has excelled in more areas than one.
Besides Graybill's runaway talent on the ground, quarterback Tyler Metkowski has posted 273 passing yards in six games. Mark Baur is among the league's best tackle leaders, making 51.
The team has two regular season games left before it makes its post-season run, beginning with a matchup against Randolph (1-5-0, 0-5-0 conference), the league's current last place team. The Lancers will end regular season play Oct. 18 at home against Lester Prairie (5-1-0, 5-1-0 conference), who is currently tied for second place in the league ahead of Concordia/New Life Academy (3-3-0, 2-3-0 conference).
"We have an opportunity next week, another opponent with whom we match up well," Jensen said of Randolph.
"Lester Prairie will be tough. In our conference, there are three teams ranked in the state. There are nine teams in our section, and five of them are ranked in the top 10 of the state. That's just our luck -- we have an opportunity to make the playoffs and we have five teams in the section that are ranked in the state. But we'll take it. Our seniors get a ninth game, win or lose."
CONCORDIA ACADEMY/NEW LIFE ACADEMY 33,
PROVIDENCE ACADEMY/HERITAGE CHRISTIAN ACADEMY 15
PA 8 7 0 0 -- 15
NLA 13 0 8 12 -- 33