After a first round win in the Section 4AAAA tournament, the New Life Academy Eagles ran into a buzz saw in the form of South St. Paul, losing 43-0 Thursday night.
The New Life Academy football team opened its tournament schedule Tuesday night against St. Paul Johnson and defeated the higher-seeded Governors 26-15, as senior co-captain Matt Michaud became the first New Life Academy player to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark. Michaud ended his stellar season with 1,263 yards on 157 attempts, averaging just over 8.0 yards per carry. He also scored 15 touchdowns.
During the back-and-forth contest against the Governors, the NLA Eagles - the smallest school in the 4AAAA division - used a balanced attack led by the big men up front to battle and defeat St. Paul Johnson.
New Life head coach Paul Mork said he was extremely proud of the way the offensive linemen - Nolan Johnson, Blake Anders, Elliott Larson, Jacob Salkowicz, Jacob Jones, and Jonathan Edwards - played all evening.
The Eagles scored first on an 8-yard pass from senior quarterback Mark deLeon to junior Matt Etzweiler, but the extra point was missed.
St. Paul Johnson snatched the lead near the end of the first half on an 80-yard punt return, but the Eagles reclaimed the lead near the end of the third quarter on the legs of junior fullback Jake Brand on a 4-yard run.
Johnson was able to jump ahead of NLA early in the fourth quarter, and after a successful 2-point conversion, the Eagles were behind 12-15, but Michaud was able to run in a touchdown from 3 yards out on the ensuing drive after a great kickoff return by the Eagles.
On the next Eagles possession, they were able to put the final nail in the coffin on a bootleg quarterback keeper run of 3 yards by deLeon giving the Eagle the 26-15 victory.
On Saturday, in the section semifinals, the Eagles met their match as they bumped up against the much bigger and more populated top seed South St. Paul 43-0.
The injury-depleted New Life didn't have any answers for the Packers, as South St. Paul drove the ball 80 yards in three plays on the opening drive and never looked back, leading 36-0 at the half. The Eagles finished 5-5 overall on the year.
"I have never been prouder of a team than I am of the Eagles at the end of this fall," Mork said. "Finishing 5-5 in the (football-strong) Tri-Metro conference and winning their first playoff game as the dwarf school, are testimonies to the heart, soul, as well as bodies of this year's squad. They competed as family, stuck together and succeeded as family, and will have lifetime memories as family."