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New Life football: Eagles blank SPA 28-0 in home opener for first Tri-Metro win

New Life Academy junior Matt Michaud ran the ball 14 times for 90 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way for the Eagles in a 28-0 win over St. Paul Academy on Friday, Sept. 9, at Park High School.1 / 2
NLA senior receiver Alex Heiser nabbed two catches for 35 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles' win.2 / 2

The New Life Academy football team notched its first Tri-Metro win 28-0 over St. Paul Academy on Friday, Sept. 9, at Park High School.

Controlling the ball behind a relentless ground attack helped New Life Academy (1-1) jump out to a 21-0 halftime lead en route to the win.

In the game, junior running back Matt Michaud filled in admirably for starting tailback and safety co-captain Jordan Nieuwsma, who did not play because of an ankle sprain. Despite having runs of 33 yards and 29 yards called back because of penalties, Michaud ran the ball 14 times for 90 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way for the Eagles.

In addition, senior fullback Max Mattila had 13 carries for 81 yards and a touchdown and junior Mark deLeon was 4-for-6 passing for 54 yards and a touchdown in his debut at quarterback, with senior receiver Alex Heiser nabbing two catches for 35 yards and a touchdown.

"deLeon did a very fine job at quarterback in his first varsity start," New Life head coach Paul Mork said. "It was a good first half, a good finishing drive, and a good first win sandwiched around a humility pill of a third quarter."

In the game, Michaud scored on a nine-yard run in the first quarter capping a sustained march with Luke Mikhail adding the first of four extra point kicks to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead. In the second quarter, Michaud again scored this time on a 10-yard jaunt. Later in the quarter, Heiser made an excellent catch in the corner of the end zone, going up over the defender, to snatch a deLeon pass for a 10-yard score.

The third quarter was the opposite of the first half, though, as the Eagles fumbled a number of times, several of them being turnovers. However, the NLA defense, although SPA never had the ball the entire third quarter in its own territory, rose to the task and continued to stymie the visitors repeated efforts even in four-down territory. Linemen Andrew Hrobochak, Matt Etzweiler, Jacob Salkowicz, and Dan LeMay plus linebackers Jayme Nelson, Jonathan Edwards and Mattila led the defensive stands.

The final tally for the Eagles came on a carbon copy of the first half efforts with Mattila plunging in from the two-yard line for the 28-0 final. Nelson, LeMay, and Cody Linton led the offensive line blocking which resulted in 217 yards of rushing for the game.

Next, the Eagles journey to Providence Academy on Friday, Sept. 16, to take on an old rival from the Minnesota Christian Athletic Association.