In a season dominated by gaudy rushing numbers and dual-threat quarterbacks on teams earning state tournament berths, the best player in the area may have been a linebacker on a team that was eliminated in the section playoffs. Minnewaska linebacker and offensive guard Nathan Snider, a second-team selection last year, is a first-teamer this time around, having set multiple state and school records in 2012.
Benson quarterback Matthew Ahrndt and Dawson-Boyd running back Justin Lee are repeat first-teamers, and there are six repeat selections in all. Lee and Willmar's Alex Grove made the team for the third time.
BOLD and Dawson-Boyd both had four players make the team, and Morris/Chokio-Alberta, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City, Willmar and New London-Spicer each had three.
Although the area lacked a state champion, two teams had undefeated regular seasons, four made the state tournament and two reached the semifinal round. Those teams are well-represented here, along with players from teams on the other end of the spectrum that struggled through tough seasons.
A repeat first-teamer and West Central All-Conference pick, Ahrndt was a threat on offense as a passer and as a rusher, running for 817 yards and 16 touchdowns, while passing for 1,004 yards and 11 scores. "He is a true competitor and is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team win," Braves' head coach Scott Gonnerman said. "Matt had two great seasons at BHS and will be hard to replace."
A three-year starter at quarterback for the Cardinals, Grove was one of the best in the area in 2012 with 1,317 passing yards with 7 touchdowns and a 56.3 percent completion rate. He was also the second-leading rusher for Willmar with 93 carries for 510 yards and 10 touchdowns. A three-time Central Lakes All-Conference selection and three-time All-Area pick, Grove finished his career with over 4,600 total passing yards and school records in every passing category. "Alex was not only an outstanding high school quarterback, he is an outstanding young man," Willmar head coach Jon Konold said. "He is such a great competitor and is everything that is great about football."
The leading receiver in the area and a Little Sioux All-Conference selection, Huot pulled in 58 passes for 1,079 yards and 8 touchdowns. Blackjacks' head coach Cory Larson said Huot was a huge part of the offense of a Dawson-Boyd team that reached the Class A semifinals. "Not only as a target, but also a decoy," Larson said. "(He was) a very good run blocker on the perimeter as well."
Kollman anchored the Jaguar running game with 1,181 yards rushing and 12 TDs, averaging 6.4 yards per carry. "Austin was a workhorse for us on offense," BBE head coach Chris Moscho said. "(He) did not come down easy as it would often take two or more people to take him down." On defense, the 6-foot, 165-pounder had 132 total tackles. "Austin was very good at reading and was a very physical hitter who liked to deliver punishing hits over and over," Moscho said. "Teams had a tough time running inside on us all season."
Lee has been a top quarterback in the area for two seasons and is still just a junior. Lee was the leading passer in the area with 1,893 yards and 21 touchdowns while completing 67 percent of his passes. "(He's) a great leader and makes everyone better," head coach Cory Larson said. "He steps up when the games get bigger."
Averaging 7 yards a carry, Lee scored more touchdowns, 22, than any back in the area. He was named the Co-Most Valuable Offensive Back (with Canby's Wyatt Kraus) in the Little Sioux Conference and had 1,239 rushing yards despite struggling with an injury late in the season. He was also a strong defender with 34 solo tackles and 3.5 sacks.
Paynesville head coach Max Meagher said Meyer did it all for the Bulldogs. "Meyer never came off the field for us and provided the offensive explosiveness that led to the second-best rushing season in school history," Meagher said. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound running back was the second-leading rusher in the area with 1,373 yards and 13 touchdowns. On defense he had 19 solo tackles and 68 total with 4.5 sacks. He was also the Bulldogs' kicker and was named to the West Central All-Conference team.
Switching from wide receiver to quarterback in his senior season, all Rock did was lead his team to the Class AA state semifinals. He threw for 982 yards and 18 touchdowns with just 4 interceptions and was an effective runner as well, with 404 yards and 9 scores. As a safety, Rock led the Warriors with 6 interceptions.
Roush led the area in rushing and was named the West Central Conference Outstanding Back with 1,662 yards and 13 TDs. A workhorse on offense, Roush took the ball 243 times for a 6.8 yard average. "Chaz always gave his best effort and never cheated himself of a chance for positive yardage," BOLD head coach Steve Solem said.
The four-year starter at linebacker and offensive guard set two Minnesota State High School League records and eight school records and is listed as a Minnesota top recruit at middle linebacker on Scout.com. Snider's 19 solo tackles against Paynesville this season set a state single-game record, and his 275 career solo tackles also set a state mark. This season, he racked up 130 total tackles including 106 solo (a Minnewaska school record), 3 caused fumbles, 2 sacks and 5 tackles for lost yardage. He was named West Central All-Conference and was the Conference's Outstanding Defender for 2012.
Stone carried the ball 266 times for 1,291 yards for a New London-Spicer team that reached the Class AAA state tournament. Head coach Dan Essler said Stone, who scored 13 touchdowns, was the Wildcats' best offensive player. "(Stone) runs the ball with authority," Essler said. "He's tough to bring down." As a linebacker, the two-year starter had 28 solo tackles and a sack.
Amundson started the season as the Lakers' quarterback, but after a midseason switch to wide receiver still put up strong enough numbers for a second team selection. He was the area's third leading receiver with 669 yards and averaged 21.5 yards per catch with 7 touchdowns in eight games a receiver.
The 5'11, 180 pound junior did a little bit of everything for the Section 6AAA champion Wildcats. Essler rushed for 409 yards, caught for 180 yards, played cornerback on defense and also served as the punt and kick returner. He had a combined 12 touchdowns and had 35 solo tackles and 2 interceptions. "Adam is very fast and shifty," Wildcats' head coach Dan Essler said. "He's hard to catch in the open field (and) is a very good corner."
Hoerchler was another player who saw time all over the field. He was the starting quarterback and strong safety, was the punt and kickoff returner, and even caught 5 passes. He passed for 734 yards and 5 touchdowns for an ACGC team that reached the Class A state semis, losing to eventual champion Mahnomen. He also ran for 322 yards and 3 scores. Falcons' head coach Terry Karlsgodt said Hoerchler was a big component to the team reaching the state tournament. "He provided great leadership offensively and his running, passing and receiving ability were key to our offensive success," Karlsgodt said.
Tigers' head coach Jerry Witt called Holland "A tough, hard-nosed kid with a strong fever for the game." Holland was the leading rusher on a Morris/CA team that went undefeated in the regular season, racking up 888 yards and 11 touchdowns, and averaging 7.3 yards per carry. The West Central All-Conference pick finishes his career with 1,085 rushing yards and 72 tackles on defense.
A three-year starter at quarterback for the Dragons, Kinny passed for 1,322 yards and 10 touchdowns while rushing for 168 yards. The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder finishes his career with nearly 4,000 passing yards.
A gifted athlete, Larson's 15 interceptions set a school record. He was a true all-around player, racking up over 100 yards as a rusher, passer and receiver. He scored 2 touchdowns and threw for 3 more, and had 23 unassisted tackles on defense.
The only sophomore to make the All-Area team, Lee had 40 receptions for 630 yards at tight end. He scored 11 touchdowns and Blackjacks' head coach Cory Larson said he improved as the season went along. "(Lee) has great hands and is a great route runner," Larson said.
A Prairie South All-Conference selection and the team MVP for the Fighting Saints, Rothers ran for 785 yards and 15 touchdowns. At linebacker spot, Rothers led the team in tackles with 90, including 51 solo. "(Rothers) is a very hard-nosed, hard-working player," KMS head coach James Cortez said.
The 5-foot-11, 175 pound senior split time between running back and linebacker and excelled at both for the Dragons. As a back, he had 109 carries for 620 yards and 2 touchdowns, and had 119 tackles and 1 sack on defense. "(Schliemann) is a very special defensive player," Dragons' head coach Jon Johnson said.
Overshadowed by teammate Chaz Roush at running back, Seehusen turned in a fine season of his own with 979 yards and 13 touchdowns. He was also a two-year starter at defensive end and was second on the team with 4 sacks.
The Cardinals' captain led the team in tackles the past two seasons, including 85 this year (39 solo). He had 2 sacks and 4 tackles for loss. He was a threat on offense, too, with 222 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns.
A third-year starter at offensive tackle, Damm was a powerful force at 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds. He 31 solo tackles, 9 sacks and 3 forced fumbles for the Falcons. "His stats don't reflect his dominance," ACGC head coach Terry Karlsgodt said. "(But) opposing coaches always accounted for him defensively and knew he was often the focal point of our offensive rushing attack."
Dreier had 50 solo tackles and 4 interceptions in his first season as starter at free safety, and was excellent at breaking up passes. One of his interception he took back for an 83-yard touchdown. He also started at long snapper for three seasons.
Willmar head coach Jon Konold said Geurtz was the "quarterback of the defense," getting the secondary in the right coverage and a sure tackler. Geurtz had 29 solo tackles and 6 for lost yardage.
Harrison paired with teammate John Tiernan for a formidable duo on the offensive line. Defensively, Harrison had 41 total tackles with 3 going for lost yardage and was named the West Central Conference's Outstanding Lineman. "We had the luxury of two great tackles this year and we could go behind Joel anytime we wanted," Tigers' head coach Jerry Witt said. "We haven't had two tackles like these guys in several years."
Hatch led the Warriors with 87 tackles including 37 unassisted. He grabbed 4 interceptions and returned one for a touchdown. He was a two-year starter at linebacker, and BOLD head coach Steve Solem said he'll be greatly missed. "Nobody had more collisions on our team than Alex," Solem said. "He had a nose for the football."
Holleman has started all three years at quarterback for the Owls and really got his work in this season with 1,519 passing yards on 296 attempts for an 11.5 yard average. He led Hancock in tackles on defense with 80 solo and 122 total.
The two-year starter and West Central All-Conference pick had 49 solo tackles, 8.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries and 13.5 tackles for lost yards.
Rooney was one of the Jaguars' team leaders on defense and his tackling skills were a huge reason teammate Austin Kollman was able to run for nearly 1,200 yards, said head coach Chris Moscho. Rooney rushed for 436 yards himself and scored 3 touchdowns. He was BBE's captain and a two-time Central Minnesota All-Conference selection.
Thissen pulled in 46 catches for 497 yards as the Wolverines' primary offensive weapon and Little Sioux All-Conference pick. He scored 5 touchdowns as a receiver and 3 more rushing.
Tiernan started both ways at tackle for the Tigers and had 56 total tackles including 7 for a loss. "We ran a ton behind our tackles this year and John was one of the best in the conference," Tigers' head coach Jerry Witt said.
Renville Co. West
Treml was second in the Southern Confederacy Conference in both receptions (44) and yardage (611) and scored 8 touchdowns. Opponents often put double coverage on him and he still accounted for 63 percent of the Jaguars' receptions. As a defensive back, Treml had 42 tackles and 2 interceptions.