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New Richmond football 'outplayed, outnumbered' at RF

Tiger senior Kaleb Kier (6) has his legs taken out from under him on a running play on Friday in River Falls. Kier led the Tigers with 84 yards rushing in the game.

When the New Richmond football team headed to River Falls on Friday, the Tigers knew they were facing an uphill battle against a highly athletic Wildcat squad.

The Tigers' lack of experience hurt them early and often as River Falls rolled over New Richmond 47-14 in the 2012 season opener.

With just one pre-season game this season, the Tigers jump into Middle Border Conference play this Friday. The Tigers will play at home Friday, against the Durand Panthers. Durand, along with Somerset and Ellsworth, has been singled out as a favorite to win the MBC title this season.

Durand uses the Single Wing offense, which relies on deception and quickness to create big plays. New Richmond coach Jason Eckert said that after seeing Durand and Prescott run that offense for several years, he is confident the Tigers will play well on defense Friday.

"We picked up some keys the last few years against Prescott and Durand that have helped us," Eckert said.

The Tigers ran into a big, athletic team at River Falls on Friday and by the end of the first quarter the game was already out of reach.

"We were just outsized, outnumbered," Eckert said. "We competed, we just couldn't stop them defensively."

Turnovers on the Tigers' first two possessions put the Tigers in a bad spot. The Tigers fumbled the ball away on both those possessions. River Falls had already scored on its first possession. The Tiger turnovers gave the Wildcats a short field on their next two possessions. Each was quickly turned into a touchdown. Before the first quarter was over, the Tigers were already facing a 20-0 deficit.

The Tigers don't have a large varsity roster to begin with and they were missing several players on Friday. Among them were injured two-way starters Zac Parfitt and Dominic Ficociello. Those players had to be replaced by sophomores, several of whom were getting their first varsity experience.

Many of the Tiger starters played both ways with very few chances to rest until younger players were sent in at the end of the game.

The Tiger offense did have a few positives after the rough start. Quarterbacks Drew Durham and Kaleb Kier both threw the ball well. The quarterbacks completed 5-8 passes for 115 yards. Kier's only pass attempt produced a 69-yard touchdown to halfback Connor O'Laughlin. O'Laughlin caught the ball on a crossing pattern and was able to cut through the Wildcat defense to the end zone. Kier also led the Tigers with 84 yards rushing.

The Tigers scored their second touchdown with four minutes left in the fourth quarter. Fullback Taner Hoppe finished the drive with a 1-yard plunge, one play after Kier had run 12 yards to put the ball inches from the end zone.

River Falls used a balanced offense to overpower the Tigers. Wildcat quarterback Alex Call, the son of New Richmond teacher Katy Call, completed 13-18 passes for 198 yards. River Falls was able to carry for 161 yards on the ground, compared to 56 yards rushing for the Tigers.