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Football: Agates hope to rebound against Pine City

Ricky Brenna (42) of Two Harbors strongarms Brody Kaldahl (53)of Esko while rushing the ball during Friday's game in Two Harbors. (Clint Austin / / 3
Ryan Darsow (7) and David Anderson (11) of Two Harbors tackle Ryan NElson (6) of Esko during Friday's game in Two Harbors. (Clint Austin / / 3
Spencer Ross (34) of Two Harbors rushes the ball past Branden Matteen (17) of Esko during Friday's game in Two Harbors. (Clint Austin / / 3

Two Harbors formidable running attack was stymied last week in a 7-0 loss to Esko in which the Agates gained only 147 yards total in the game.

The Agates gained only 110 yards on the ground and averaged less than 2.5 yards per carry in the game. Coach Tom Nelson said Esko came in with a good game plan and a couple a big defensive tackles that could "muck things up" in the middle of the line that allowed Eskomo linebackers to make a lot of plays in support.

"They executed well, they did what they were supposed to do, but we did not," Nelson said. "I think that we were soft. That's not selling these guys out, but we obviously weren't ready to go and that's on me."

The Agates defense and special teams held the Esko offense in check for most of the game, allowing just a late fourth quarter touchdown that sealed the win.

"I thought our defense and our special teams obviously did a more than adequate position for us to win that game," Nelson said. "We lost 7-0, but it feels like 50-0. This was a depressed group and a depressed bunch of coaches."

The Agates (2-1) will travel to Pine City to face the Dragons at 7 p.m. today. Pine City won its first game of the season against Rush City 21-6 and lost to Greenway-Nashwauk-Keewatin 18-12 on Sept. 8. The Dragons have never lost to the Agates, winning the only six games the programs have played from 2007 to 2012.

Nelson said to get ready for the next challenge he and the team have gotten back to basics during practice this week.

"We told them that every team is going to see that now and see that there is a chink in the armor," he said. "We've got to get gritty. We are absolutely smash mouth football, there is no doubt about it. If we've got to pull a lot of tricks out of the bag to win a game, we probably aren't going to win the game anyway."

It looks as if the Agates will have to do it without junior Ricky Brenna. Brenna, a starter on both offense and defense, went down with a foot injury early in the game against Esko and will likely miss this week's contest with Pine City.

Nelson hopes this week, Two Harbors can get back to running the football and controlling the clock and he knows the Agate run game starts with the offensive line.

"We're getting back to basics and we're going to get back to pounding that thing," Nelson said. "It falls on our line. We always tell the line, when we run for 300 to 400 yards, who gets the credit? The backs do. But we know what butters those backs bread, it's the linemen."

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb has been a reporter for the Pine Journal since October 2018. He previously worked as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle from 2015-2018. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. 

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