First-year Maple Grove football coach Matt Lombardi never gave a timetable for success with his program.

But others were happy to do it for him. The former Wayzata defensive coordinator helped three Trojans teams to Class 5A championships, creating an anticipation for immediate success.

Instead, the Crimson was forced to wait several weeks before its first victory. It heads into the season's second half with a 1-3 record.

"I don't know that I expected any record," Lombardi said. "I knew we were starting at the scratch level."

While happy to be in the win column after a 48-13 victory against Park Center last Friday, Lombardi said much was gained from the three losses.

A season-opening 18-16 loss at home against Armstrong, Lombardi said, "was probably a shocker, but they are not a bad team."

He blamed the 24-3 loss at Champlin Park in Week 2 on the Crimson's inability to finish games, something rooted in the culture he's working to change.

Getting blanked 35-0 by No. 1 Eden Prairie, he said, "was a blessing for us. At halftime, the kids came into the locker room and you could just see them thinking, 'Oh, that's how you do it.' They play hard and physical and come at you."

Lombardi's players have impressed their new coach. They have brought a high energy level to practices and trusted changes in positions and offensive philosophies.

"The kids have tried hard through the whole thing," Lombardi said. "I still think we have a chance to get better and make an impact."

Eagles finally soar

Bloomington Kennedy came into last Friday night's game at Eastview winless on the season, 0-3 in games played since the Lightning knocked the Eagles out of the playoffs last year. But running back Lexis Jones ran 31 times for 278 yards, including a pair of long touchdown runs in the third quarter, as Kennedy built a 31-10 lead and held on for a 31-24 victory.

Any victory is a good one, but this comes at a particularly ideal time. The Eagles know they will have their hands full this Friday playing at home against Prior Lake. The Lakers nailed a 40-yard field goal to win 23-21 in a regular-season game last year. But Kennedy got revenge in the Class 5A, Section 3 tournament, winning 21-19 at the last second by stopping a two-point conversion.