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New Life Academy football: Injuries hobble Eagles in Saint Anthony rally

New Life Academy lost key players and the lead late in a 20-14 loss at St. Anthony Village on Oct. 16.

“We had courage in the face of adversity,” NLA Eagles coach Paul Mork said.

Their senior co-captain and fullback Matt Etzweiler broke his ankle on his first carry of the game. It also hurt the Eagles’ defense since he plays on both sides of the ball.

“He is our leading blocker for our offense and a key inside linebacker,” Mork said.

Backfield depletion already had been an issue for the Eagles since they lost sophomore Eby Ketema to an ankle sprain the week before against Brooklyn Center. New running backs became an immediate need for the Eagles.

The SAV Huskies did not help matters either as junior quarterback Justice Spriggs connected with senior wide receiver Zach Siggelkow for an 80-yard touchdown. The Eagles responded in the second quarter with a touchdown drive, capped by a 1-yard run by junior quarterback Seth Rice.

Junior kicker K.J. Munn put them ahead on the extra point, 7-6, since the Huskies missed theirs. The Eagles held the lead into the fourth quarter and even extended it.

Eagles senior running back Jake Brand put the Eagles ahead 14-6 with a 7-yard touchdown in the final frame. Spriggs got the Huskies on the board again with a 40-yard touchdown pass, but a failed two-point conversion kept Eagles in front, 14-12.

Unfortunately for the Eagles, they had to play the fourth quarter without their junior free safety Sean Jacboson due to a head injury.

That loss hurt the Eagles pass defense as Spriggs threw two passing touchdowns in the quarter.

His second one put the Huskies ahead on an 8-yard pass to senior wide receiver Christopher Schieffer. The two connect on the two-point conversion, and the Huskies (2-6, 1-5 Tri-Metro East) held on for the 20-14 win.

The loss dropped the Eagles to 2-6 overall and 2-6 in the Tri-Metro Conference East Division. They finished fourth overall in the division, and they received a No. 6 seed for the Class 4A, Section 4 playoffs.

The Eagles will take on No. 3-seeded Hill-Murray (3-5, 3-5 Classic Suburban) on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m. The Pioneers will enter the game fresh off a 48-7 drubbing of Richfield.

The winner will face No. 2-seeded Saint Paul Johnson (4-4, 3-2 Saint Paul City) on Saturday, Oct. 26, at 1 p.m. The Eagles beat the Governors in 26-15 in the playoffs last year.

–Matthew Davis