2013 All-Area Football: Willmar, NLS, BBE, D-B all land two on first team
Two area teams will play for state championships this weekend. Two other teams reached section championship games.
It was a banner year for area football and it isn’t over yet.
Dawson-Boyd is fighting for its second Class A state title in three years, with the 12-1 Blackjacks playing defending champ Mahnomen on Saturday in Prep Bowl XXXII. D-B’s only loss this season came against powerhouse Minneota, which plays for the Class AA state championship today.
New London-Spicer sits at 10-2 and plays for the Class AAA title against St. Croix Lutheran on Saturday.
Paynesville almost got back to the state tournament, putting together an undefeated season before losing to Minneota in the Section 5AA finals.
And Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa finished 9-2 with an upset loss in the Section 4A title game.
Further evidence of area teams’ successes is the almost 50 players who earned spots on the 2013 Tribune All-Area Football Team.
The team features a 2,000-yard rusher in New London-Spicer’s Adam Essler and six more 1,000-yard rushers.
Willmar quarterback Augustine Hahn topped 2,000 yards passing in his first season as a starter, and six others reached the 1,000-yard mark.
There are two repeat first-teamers in Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa’s Austin Kollman and Dawson-Boyd’s Joey Lee.
Essler was an honorable mention last year before moving up to the First Team this year.
Three others — Dawson-Boyd’s Michael Lee, ACGC’s Lucas Damm and Hancock’s Taylor Holleman — repeat as honorable mentions, which means there are 40 new faces on this year’s team.
Essler led the area in rushing and led his team to the brink of the Class AAA state championship, which will be played Saturday.
Going into the title game, he has 2,209 rushing yards and 31 touchdowns. He has 172 yards receiving, averaged 15 yards on punt returns and 29 yards on kickoff returns.
On defense, he totaled 63 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 fumble recovery and 2 interceptions.
A three-year starter for BBE, Goodwin passed for 1,441 yards and 12 touchdowns, earning a passer rating of 152.8 (using the NCAA rating formula).
As a runner, Goodwin averaged just 1.2 yards per carry, but had 69 yards and 6 touchdowns.
“Brian was a student of the game,” BBE head coach Chris Moscho said. “He was a smart kid who got a lot better as the season went on. (He) knew the playbook inside and out and could teach anyone any position.”
He was an effective defensive back, as well, amassing 88 tackles and 4 interceptions.
Hahn took over for three-year starter Alex Grove and exceeded all expectations.
Not even named the starter until just before the season started, Hahn set a team single-season record with 2,032 passing yards, was an All-Central Lakes Conference selection and was the Cardinals’ team MVP.
With a completion percentage of 65.2 percent and 15 passing touchdowns, the 5-foot-9, 195 lb. junior also ran for 460 yards and 8 scores.
His QB rating was 152.
“Augustine brought a spark to the Cardinal offense spreading the ball to multiple receivers throughout the season,” Willmar head coach Jon Konold said. “Along with being an accurate passer he was a powerful runner.”
The most prolific scorer on a 6-3 Cardinals team that averaged 37 points per game, Heitzman totaled over 800 yards of offense as a rusher (636) and receiver (203) and scored 17 touchdowns on his way to an All-Central Lakes Conference selection.
“Michael was the heart and soul of the Cardinal football team,” said Willmar head coach Jon Konold. “In the open field, Michael was tough to take down and when in a crowd he used his strength to carry tacklers. Michael is one of the toughest runners in the conference and the area.”
A repeat first-teamer, Kollman rushed for 1,551 yards and 14 touchdowns for a BBE team that came within one game of the Class A state tournament.
He ran for a team record 351 yards on Sept. 20 against Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted. The game also landed him at No. 9 all-time in the state record books for yards in a single game.
On defense, he had 114 tackles and played on all special teams.
The Jaguars’ team MVP on offense and defense, Kollman finished his high school career with 3,539 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns.
Lee is wrapping up a stellar career for the Blackjacks in which he’s led the team to a 37-3 record, three straight state tournament berths and the 2011 Class A title. He’ll have a shot at his second title when the Blackjacks play in the championship game Saturday at the Metrodome.
This season, he passed for 1,838 yards and 20 touchdowns on 98 completions. He threw just six interceptions and had a 189.1 QB rating, which is first among area quarterbacks.
Lee also served as the team’s punter and had a 32.7 yard average.
Blackjacks’ head coach Cory Larson said about the three-time All-Little Sioux selection: “Phenomenal career, great athlete, tremendous leader. Career record speaks for itself.”
Overcame fractures in three vertebrae suffered in last year’s postseason to score 19 touchdowns and lead the Blackjacks in rushing (1,486 yards).
“He’s a great example of ‘it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog,’ ” head coach Cory Larson said. “He plays fast and fearless and has overcome a lot to get to this point.”
Already a two-year starter as a junior, Quade passed for the second-most yards in the area (1,779) with 16 touchdowns and a 134.1 QB rating.
Quade led the Bulldogs to a 10-1 record and was named the West Central Conference MVP.
“He was the director of our no-huddle offense that set the school scoring record of 434 points and 43.1 points per game,” Paynesville head coach Max Meagher said. “He was our leader and kept everybody focused.”
Meagher added that Quade has already set all of the school’s career, season and game records for completions, touchdowns and yards.
Quade also rushed for 609 yards and 11 TDs and had 31 tackles and 1 fumble recovery as a strong safety.
Steffel was second in the area in rushing in his first year on the Warriors’ varsity, racking up 1,651 yards on 217 carries and scored 16 touchdowns.
He was an All-West Central Conference selection and was the conference’s Back of the Year.
“As the year went on, he got better each game,” said BOLD assistant coach Daren Sagedahl. “Ben was a patient, strong runner with speed and shiftiness you don’t see often.”
Vraa, leading a team with more than 5,000 yards of total offense, has thrown for 1,425 yards with a stellar 69 percent completion percentage.
He’s connected for 19 touchdowns and has a 185.2 passer rating.
Vraa also serves as the Wildcats’ punter, averaging 37.6 yards per kick.
A bruising runner, Whitcomb averaged 7 yards per carry, totaling 808 yards and 17 touchdowns.
He also caught 11 passes for 135 yards.
He was a true two-way player, with 55 total tackles and 5 sacks.
Whitcomb was All-West Central Conference and the Falcons’ MVP back.
Abraham was a two-way threat at quarterback, passing for 834 yards (9 TDs) and rushing for 774 (10 TDs).
As a strong safety, Abraham accumulated 35 tackles.
A bad hamstring injured in Week 8 limited Anyasike, but the 5-foot-11, 174-pound. running back still managed 1,234 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns while fumbling only once.
With 11 rushing touchdowns, Beuning made good use of his 367 yards, often taking the ball on short runs near the end zone.
He paced the Wildcats’ defense with 92 total tackles, 5 sacks, 8 tackles for loss and 1 interception.
The West Central Conference Defensive Player of the Year, Damm collected 12 solo and 36 assisted tackles with 1.5 sacks while being consistently double-teamed.
In Damm’s four years starting, the Falcons have had five 1,000-yard rushers and another reach 880.
Dingmann set a school record with 9 touchdown receptions, and he totaled 454 receiving yards.
A West Central All Conference selection, Dingmann also had 66 total tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception at free safety.
Fester was a leader on the defensive line with 48 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 1 fumble recovery.
He was an All-West Central Conference pick and ACGC’s co-MVP lineman with Lucas Damm.
Grove caught 2 touchdowns and led the Cardinals in receiving yards with 529.
He was an All-Central Lakes Conference honorable mention.
Holleman was a four-year starter at quarterback and linebacker and a three-time All Pheasant Conference pick.
He passed for 1,135 yards and 5 touchdowns, while rushing for 720 yards and 6 TDs.
He racked up 95 tackles on defense and 1 interception, and he averaged 29.1 yards as a punter.
Jaenisch was the Wolverines’ leading receiver and an All-Little Sioux Conference selection, despite playing through a torn labrum the last two seasons.
He caught for 341 yards and two touchdowns.
On defense, he racked up 68 total tackles and three sacks.
The Cardinals’ defensive MVP, Johnson used his power/speed combination to lead the team with 90 tackles, 4 sacks and 5 tackles for loss.
Kessler did a little bit of everything for the Eagles.
Primarily a quarterback, he passed for 317 yards and ran for 426 yards and 8 touchdowns.
He also had 11 receptions, 40 tackles, 2 interceptions, a 28-yard punting average, and averaged 36.3 yards on kickoff returns.
He was an All-Little Sioux Conference selection.
Kotzer had 116 tackles and 1 pick on his way to being named to his first Wright County All-Conference team.
On offense, he picked up 204 yards and 3 touchdowns as a receiver and 74 rushing yards.
Kranz led the Thunder Hawks with 769 yards rushing with 5.5 yards per carry.
On defense, he had 81 total tackles, 7.5 tackles-for-loss and 1 pick.
Kubesh led the Mustangs in receptions with 26 for 312 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Had 3 sacks and standing 6-foot-6, had a knack for batted balls as a defensive end.
Kubesh was 6-for-8 on field goals (longest 36 yards) and 36-for-39 on extra points.
He averaged 37.4 yards on punts and gave the Warriors great field position with multiple touchbacks on the kickoff team.
The 6-foot-5 Lee was one of the best receivers in the area, racking up 770 yards on 42 catches for 10 touchdowns.
He is a two-time Little Sioux All-Conference selection.
Derek Ludwig/Michael Ludwig/Chris Strodtman
The Bulldogs’ trio were two-year starters who paved the way for an offense that gained over 4,800 yards.
The O-line allowed just four sacks all season, and the defense held opponents to an average of 15 points per game.
All seniors, Derek Ludwig played DE/OT, Michael Ludwig was G/DE and Strodtman was C/MLB.
All three were named to the All-West Central Conference team.
Nelson totaled 53 tackles and 7 sacks with 2 tackles for loss.
He took the ball 5 times on offense and scored 1 touchdown.
A strong, durable runner who didn’t miss a game in four years, Nelson ran for 1,118 yards and 9 touchdowns and was named to the West Central All-Conference team.
He also played special teams as the Falcons’ primary kick returner, averaging 22.9 yards per return.
Nibaur, in his first year as a starter and standing 6-foot-6, was a huge target for quarterback Augustine Hahn, racking up 486 yards and 4 touchdowns.
He was All Central Lakes Conference and the Cardinals’ Offensive MVP.
The 6-foot-4 tight end led the Warriors in receiving with 428 yards and 9 touchdowns, averaging 21.4 yards per catch to earn an All-West Central Conference selection.
A two-year starter at QB for the Lakers, Ostrander passed for 1,094 yards, 7 touchdowns and a 101.1 passer rating. He was also a threat as a runner, with 373 rushing yards and 8 scores.
The 6-foot-3, 180-pound Ostrander was a two time West Central All-Conference selection and the team MVP in 2013.
Rau emerged as a standout receiver with 629 yards and 6 scores on 39 catches.
He averaged 22.6 yards on kick returns and had 3 interceptions.
The Dragons’ junior was 2013 All-Wright County selection.
Richards was the anchor of the offensive and defensive lines for the Cardinals.
Playing nose tackle on the D-line, he was often double-teamed but collected 49 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
A three-year starter and two-time West Central All-Conference, Sandgren was part of the powerful BOLD offense that gained over 3,500 yards.
He helped call signals at the line of scrimmage and didn’t allow a sack all year.
A standout defensive player, Schulte had 58 tackles, 2 picks, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries.
On offense, he had 195 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns.
Schultenover split time as a receiver and running back, racking up 4 total touchdowns on 10 catches for 231 yards and 285 rushing yards.
As the Lakers’ cornerback, he had 23 total tackles and two interceptions.
He also served as a kick returner, and averaged 25.6 yards per return and scored 1 TD.
The three-year starter notched 91 tackles and 2 sacks, and was the signal caller of an offensive line responsible for over 3,500 yards of offense.
He was an All-West Central Conference selection.
Despite an offense that spread the ball to many receivers, Topp posted the fourth-best receiving year in school history with 621 yards and 6 touchdowns and was named the West Central All Conference and Most Valuable Receiver.
Vipond came into the season as the veteran on the Tigers’ line — with four varsity starts under his belt.
He had 42 total tackles, 5.5 sacks and 4 tipped passes as the key part of the line that paved the way for 1,000-yard rusher Isaac Wente.
Serving as the Wildcats’ snapper and center on the NLS offensive line, helped the Wildcats pile up more than 5,000 total yards of offense. On defense, Welsh had 8 tackles, including 5 solo.
Wente carried the load for an inexperienced Tigers’ offense, running for 1,134 yards and 11 touchdowns.
He was named the Tigers’ team MVP and was a West Central All-Conference selection.
The favorite target of QB Vraa and the Wildcats’ leading receiver, Zylstra pulled in 42 catches for 681 yards and 12 touchdowns.
He had 16 tackles and 2 fumble recoveries on defense.