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New Life Academy football: Grill, Etzweiler step up as Eagles end skid

Andrew Grill, a middle linebacker for New Life Academy made sure his team won the turnover battle for a change.

He returned a fumble 44 yards for a touchdown against the Concordia Academy Beacons and helped the NLA Eagles to an 18-13 victory on Friday, Sept. 20. Turnovers had plagued the Eagles in their first three games, all losses. This time, the ball rolled their way.

“The quarterback tried to pitch it back, but just sort of dropped it,” Grill said about the fumble. ”Our corner back just kicked it forward, and I scooped it up.”

Grill burned the Beacons offense with his speed and put his team within a point, 13-12. The senior middle linebacker's big play came in only his second varsity start and his first season in football since middle school. 

“He’s really stepped up at middle linebacker for us, “ senior fullback Matt Etzweiler said. 

Grill attends Liberty Classical Academy, which joined NLA as part of their five-school football co-op. LCA did not have football before, so Grill competed in many other sports including soccer, basketball and baseball at LCA. As a solid pitcher and outfielder in baseball, Grill has aspirations to play baseball in college. For now, he is making an impact for NLA football.

“He’s always giving 110 percent,” Etzweiler said.

Etzweiler also put forth a big effort in the Eagles' win against the Beacons. He played with a broken finger but still made many blocks on offense as the Eagles churned up 201 yards rushing.

“He played a great game,” Grill said.

Running backs Andrew Nieuwsma and Eby Ketema ran for 55 and 87 yards respectively. Such efforts helped the Eagles start the second half strong with a 14-play, 70-plus-yard drive that ate up six minutes, 30 seconds. Unfortunately, the drive ended in an interception but the Eagles defense kept the Beacons in check, and the Eagles put another score on the board for the win.

“I told the guys, this time, we earned something,” Eagles coach Paul Mork said.

The Eagles also ended their 0-3 skid to start the season. They will play at Saint Croix Lutheran on Friday. 

—Matthew Davis

Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
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