New York Mills headed to U.S. Bank Stadium after Class A quarterfinal victory

New York Mills advances to Class A semifinals with a win over Deer River.

New York Mills defeats Deer River in the Class A state quarterfinal at Brainerd High School on Nov. 12, 2021. Aaron Young / Perham Focus

The New York Mills football team punched its ticket to U.S. Bank Stadium on Friday night in defeating the previously undefeated Deer River Warriors 20-6.

“We’re excited,” New York Mills head coach Matt Radniecki said. “We beat a very good football team. We believe we’re a good football team, but we (put up a) heck of a fight here.”

Deer River’s (11-1) Sean Drotts recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff. The Warriors moved chains several times but were turned away at the goal line. The Eagles (10-1) forced a turnover on downs at the three-yard line.

New York Mills’ Ethan Ruther broke the scoreless stalemate when he ran the ball in for a three-yard touchdown four minutes into the second quarter. However, the extra point was blocked, leaving the score at 6-0.

The Warriors were pinned deep in their own territory after a block in the back infraction on the ensuing kickoff. The New York Mills defense came up big once again when linebacker Brayden Ehnert took an interception on third-and-long to the house. The Eagles punched in the two-point conversion and took a commanding 14-0 lead.


In the third quarter, the Warriors found a spark on offense. Josiah Herfindahl broke free for a 99-yard rushing touchdown to pull within eight points.

New York Mills’ Jonah Johnson pulled down a 43-yard catch with under seven minutes in the third. This led to Bren Salo’s 13-yard rushing touchdown to put the Eagles up 20-6 a few plays later.

Late in the fourth quarter, Deer River’s fourth-and-six pass fell incomplete, leading to victory formation for the Eagles. Radniecki was impressed to see his defense step up in the biggest game of the season so far.

“They’ve done it all year long, and this is no different,” Radniecki said, “We keep saying every week, but we made big plays.”

“This is unbelievable,” Salo said. ”We’ve been talking about this since we were kids, and this is the goal. The goal is to make it to state. We didn’t doubt ourselves. Being the (third seed), people doubted us. But we knew.”

The Eagles are headed to Minneapolis on Saturday, Nov. 20, for an 11:30 a.m. kickoff against Mayer Lutheran (11-1). Mayer Lutheran, the Section 2A champion, beat Murray County Central 34-18 in Jordan on Friday night.

What To Read Next
Get Local