New York Mills football building for more wins
Two victories in the past four seasons have the New York Mills Eagles football team looking to reverse that trend.
The Eagles were 1-7 overall last season.
"We want to be more competitive," Head Coach Matt Radniecki said.
Radniecki, in his third stint as coach for the Eagles, has the numbers this year with six more kids out than last season totaling 45 gridders, 26 being from the freshman and sophomore classes.
The program hit a low in 2009 with only 28 players suited up.
"Football is a numbers game, so we're happy with that," Radniecki said. "We'll have a better team, but we will start a lot of sophomores and we can't afford any injuries at key positions."
Radniecki coached NY Mills from 1989-1998 and returned for the 2002-2006 seasons, before firing up again last season. He led the Eagles to their only state tournament berth in 2006.
J.J. Weller and Bryan Dunrud also return as assistant coaches.
The majority of offensive threats will be replaced from last year's team.
Junior Charlie Peeters takes over for graduated senior Tanner Wegscheid at quarterback. Peeters saw action last season but this will be his first full season under center.
Shane Novak, who broke bones in his wrist during preseason last year, as a sophomore, will handle the ball at tailback with Tyler Patron filling fullback duties.
Patron has to ability to pick up necessary yards in short yardage situations. Novak, if he can get to the second level, has the speed to break big runs.
Peeters will look to throw the ball to Taylor Ericksrud at wide receiver and has some size at tight end in the form of Noah Pesola. Pesola's height should prove valuable in the Eagles' passing game.
Of the eight games played last season, the Eagles were in half of them, but suffered four blowouts.
"Our schedule got more difficult this year. We want to avoid those blowouts."
A realignment of the Prairie Conference, creating two divisions, one comprised of smaller schools and the other larger schools has added more competition from districts with larger class sizes and removed two schools, Parkers Prairie and Pillager, schools that compare more in size with NY Mills.
Pillager moved to the North Star Conference and Parkers Prairie dropped to nine-man.
According to Radniecki, when he started coaching nearly 20 years ago, NY Mills used to be the second largest school in the conference. The Eagles now find themselves the second smallest school.
NY Mills moves from the Prairie Conference - North to the South division. They will play five conference games versus Ottertail Central, Browerville, Kerkoven-Murdock-Sunburg, Royalton and West Central Area and three cross-conference games.
The Eagles open the season with two cross-conference games against Upsala/Swanville Area and Osakis, both at home, before getting into the meat of their conference schedule. They finish the season with a tall task on the road at last year's Class 1A runners-up Barnesville.
Concerning the realignment, Radniecki noted the potential for some good natural rivalries.
Rebuilding will continue in New York Mills with players getting a second straight year under Radniecki and a growing familiarity with his schemes on both sides of the ball.
"I've got a better feel for our talent and the players are more familiar with what we are going to do scheme-wise."
Radniecki brings a positive attitude to a program that has had a string of less than stellar seasons.
"I'm just lucky to be able to coach. Having fun is what high school sports are all about and hopefully, we can accomplish that again this year."
NEW YORK MILLS
9/1 7:00 PM Upsala/Swanville
9/9 7:00 PM Osakis
9/16 7:00 PM @ Royalton
9/23 7:00 PM @ Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg
9/30 7:00 PM West Central Area School
10/7 7:00 PM @ Ottertail Central Bulldogs
10/14 7:00 PM Browerville
10/19 7:00 PM @ Barnesville