Eagles receive top seed in Section 6A

By Chad Koenen


In a match up that could just as easily been played at US Bank Stadium in the state football tournament, rather than the Wednesday before Education Minnesota break in October, the 10th ranked New York Mills Eagles defeated the second ranked Mahnomen/Waubun Thunderhawks 26-21. Coming into the game the Thunderhawks were ranked behind just Lester Prairie in the state rankings and even received a pair of first place votes.

“What a fun night,” said head coach Matt Radniecki. “Great atmosphere big crowd for both sides and a great high school football game played by two good teams. The game was a very physical contest as both teams rely on their running game and it was that.”  

In a game of offensive runs, Mahnomen/Waubun opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 4-yard touchdown run and converted the two-point conversion to take an 8-0 lead. In the second quarter the Eagles answered with a pair of touchdowns on a Brayden Ehnert to DaShaun Robinson 44-yard pass. The two connected on a two-point conversion to tie the game at 8-8. 

NY Mills took its first lead of the game later in the quarter when Jonah Ruther scored on an 8-yard run to leave the score at 14-8 heading into halftime. 

The Eagles scored once again in the third quarter to jump in front by a score of 20-8 when Ehnert scored on a 1-yard run. 

That’s when Mahnomen/Waubun went on a run of their own to score 13 straight points in the third quarter when they scored on runs from 6-yards and 2-yards out to take a 21-20 lead heading into the fourth quarter. 

Trailing by just 1 point, Ehnert found Robinson on another long pass, this time from 37-yards out, to end up in the end zone and give NY Mills a 26-21 lead over the second ranked Thunderhawks.

Mahnomen/Waubun had one last chance to take the lead late in the fourth quarter, but the NY Mills defense held strong to stop the Thunderhawks on fourth down for the third time in the game to secure the win.

“Our defense did a really nice job of shutting down their quarterback. He made some plays, but we didn’t give up the big play,” said Radniecki. “We also forced four fumbles that we recovered to help our defense out.  On offense we ran the ball and made some big plays in the passing game.  Great win and a fun night.”

With the win the Eagles improved to 7-1 on the season and received the top seed in the section tournament. They will host eighth seeded Underwood on Tuesday night. The Rockets come into the game with a record of 0-8 and a QRF of 55. The Eagles on the other hand, come into the game with a QRF ranking of 4. 

The winner of the game will take on either fourth seeded Menahga, with a record of 5-3, or fifth seeded Breckenridge, with a record of 5-3, on Saturday at the high seed.

On the other side of the bracket, second seeded Pine River-Backus (6-2 overall), will take on Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (3-5 overall) in the opening round, while third seeded Otter Tail Central (5-3 overall) will host sixth seeded Lake Park-Audubon (3-5 overall) in the opening round. 

The Section 6A championship game is set for Friday, Nov. 4 at 5:30 p.m. at the FargoDome.