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Football: A tough-luck opener

Red Wing running back Kevin Hall is tackled by a New Prague defender during the first quarter of Friday's season-opening game in New Prague. Hall ran for 14 yards on seven carries in the Wingers' 56-8 loss. Joe Brown / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
Red Wing's Jack Kelly wraps up a New Prague ball carrier for a tackle during the first half of Friday's Big Southeast Blue Division game in New Prague. Joe Brown / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
Red Wing quarterback Marcus Walm puts up a pass before getting hit by New Prague's Ben Novak during the first half of Friday's Big Southeast Blue District game in New Prague. Joe Brown / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

NEW PRAGUE — After going 0-9 in 2016 and playing with its fourth coach in three years, Red Wing has taken its fair share of lumps.

Friday's season-opener wasn't much different, with a 56-8 loss to Big Southeast Blue District foe New Prague.

But, if there's one thing first-year head coach Nate Freier wants to build on, it's the Wingers' toughness. Yes, they've taken their lumps, but he sees a group that continued to get up every time.

"There's no such thing as rebuilding a high-school program. It's about building," Freier said. "It's about building character. It's about building commitment. It's about building discipline. It's about building intensity. It's about building a culture of effort.

"We have a lot of work to do, but I have no reason to be disappointed in these kids. ... They've been in turbulent times for a while now and we're trying to bring some stability back to it. Is this the way we wanted it to start? No. But it's a start."

The Trojans wanted to test that toughness right away with runs up the gut in the Wing-T offense. And that bruising style helped New Prague build a 49-0 halftime lead. Running back Tyler Montanye ran for 91 yards and three touchdowns on 12 carries. Cale Jallen and Connor Scharf each had a touchdown run in the first quarter. Add in a 22-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Nathan Berg to Carter Seymour and New Prague outgained Red Wing 212-(-19) in total yards the first half. Berg was 4 of 4 passing for 73 yards, with Seymour hauling in two for 43 yards.

The Trojans also managed to get a hand on three Winger punts, putting their average starting field position at the Red Wing 26-yard line.

"I told them the key to the Wing-T offense is don't watch the backs, watch the guard," Freier said. "I think we could have been more aggressive on our blitzes. Brand-spanking new defense for these kids. You make a call, you expect them to do what they're supposed to do. Naturally, in the first game of the season, there's going to be some hesitation."

With New Prague's reserves in the second half, Red Wing got its lone score of the game on an 8-yard bootleg run from quarterback Marcus Walm.

Walm was 5 of 16 passing for 33 yards, with Tre Moore collecting 33 yards on three catches. Mac DeSutter was the team's leading rusher with 45 yards on 10 carries while also picking up seven tackles on defense. Sam Guse tallied a team-best 10 tackles on defense.

"It's the old saying, 'It's not whether you got knocked down but whether you get up again.' And you know what? No one actually failed to get up again," Freier said. "That's something to build on right there. They might need to get better at certain aspects of the football game but they're not going to quit. I guarantee you they're not going to quit."

Next Friday, the Wingers will play their home opener against Austin. In Week 1, the Packers rolled past Rochester Mayo, 40-21.

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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