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Football: Introducing the 2022 West Central Tribune All-Area Team

Prep Bowl-bound New London-Spicer leads the area's best

NLS senior Brycen Christensen, 81, celebrates with teammate Grant Paffrath after scoring a touchdown in the Class AAA state semifinals against Watertown-Mayer on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
NLS senior Brycen Christensen, 81, celebrates with teammate Grant Paffrath after scoring a touchdown in the Class AAA state semifinals against Watertown-Mayer on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
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The high-school football season concludes this weekend with the 40th installment of the Prep Bowl. Along with the state's best — including New London-Spicer — vying for state championships, why not reflect on the top gridiron talent in west central Minnesota?

The Wildcats lead the way in the 2022 West Central Tribune All-Area Football Team. NLS has two All-Area selections along with two honorable mentions.

At 1 p.m. Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Wildcats (10-2) face Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton for the Class AAA state championship. NLS is looking to win its second state championship after winning the AAA title in 2009.

Fresh off its first state trip since 2008, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg also has a pair of All-Area picks after winning the Section 4A championship. Also in that elite company is Willmar with two All-Area picks.

Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, Benson, BOLD, Paynesville and Renville County West are also represented on the 11-man All-Area squad.

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Here is the 2022 West Central Tribune All-Area Football Team (in alphabetical order):

NLS v Holy Family FB 008.jpg
Wildcats senior Brycen Christensen breaks away from defenders to gain yardage during a Homecoming matchup against Holy Family Catholic High School in New London on Friday, September 16, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Brycen Christensen

Sr. WR/DB, New London-Spicer

New London-Spicer's Brycen Christensen
New London-Spicer's Brycen Christensen
Submitted photo

A key part of New London-Spicer's run to the Class AAA Prep Bowl championship, Brycen Christensen has left his mark across the school's record books.

An All-Area selection in 2021, Christensen caught 44 balls for 725 yards and six touchdowns. He also ran the ball 38 times for 308 yards. On defense, he recorded 57 tackles and five interceptions. He also returned a pair of kickoffs for touchdowns.

In NLS' state quarterfinal win over Watertown-Mayer, Christensen had four carries for 66 yards, three catches for 49 yards and three total touchdowns in a 33-28 victory. He also had seven tackles and three pass break-ups.

NLS head coach Chad Gustafson said Christensen hopes to play college football at the D-II or D-I level.

Going into the Prep Bowl, Christensen owns the school record for career catches (117), receiving yards (1,769) and receiving touchdowns (22).

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"Brycen is as gifted of a player as we have had," Gustafson said. "He's even a better teammate. He combines speed and size and great hands to make himself a dominant player. He was double-teamed most of the year."

NLS junior Mason Delzer, 7, looks for a running lane during the Class AAA state semifinals against Watertown-Mayer on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
NLS junior Mason Delzer, 7, looks for a running lane during the Class AAA state semifinals against Watertown-Mayer on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Mason Delzer

Jr. RB, New London-Spicer

New London-Spicer's Mason Delzer
New London-Spicer's Mason Delzer
Submitted photo

Another key cog to NLS' championship run is junior running back Mason Delzer.

The feature back of the Wildcats' offense, Delzer has 268 carries for 1,781 yards and 24 total touchdowns (22 rushing, one receiving, one kickoff return) going into the Prep Bowl.

Breaking the 2,500 career rushing yards milestone this season, Delzer was named the East Central South District's Most Valuable Back.

"Mason combined speed and strength to go along with great vision to attack the defenses," said NLS head coach Chad Gustafson. "He is very shifty and gets lots of yards after contact. An extremely hard worker, Mason is a great teammate. He had over 100 yards in every game and over 200 three times this season."

Benson football 001.jpg
Benson senior running back Thomas Dineen runs through Browerville - Eagle Valley defenders while making his way up the field as the Braves hosted the Tigers in Benson on Friday, September 23, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

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Thomas Dineen

Sr. RB/DE, Benson

Benson's Thomas Dineen
Benson's Thomas Dineen
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Now a three-time selection, Benson's Thomas Dineen is the elder statesman of the All-Area football team.

The feature back for the 2-7 Braves, Dineen ran 173 times for 1,109 yards and 12 total touchdowns (10 rushing, one receiving, one defensive). At defensive end, Dineen tallied 50 tackles (five for loss), had two sacks and one fumble recovery despite facing double- and triple-teams all season. He is a three-time All-Mid State 3 selection and was the team MVP.

Dineen's future is in wrestling. He is a two-time state champion and a Division I commit at South Dakota State. But he leaves Benson football with five career records: Rushing yards (3,612), touchdowns (41), points (270), sacks (21) and tackles for loss (30).

"Thomas Dineen, without a doubt, left his mark on Benson football history," said Braves head coach Adam Foslien. "He's one of the big reasons why we were able to shift the culture of Benson football. ... He never misses the weight room and is one the hardest working players I've ever coached. There's not enough good things I can say about Thomas; he was an absolute joy to coach the past four years. I'm not sure we will ever have a player like Thomas Dineen who will leave his stamp on our football program like he did."

Paynesville senior Grayson Fuchs, 12, looks to fire off a pass during a Mid State 2 District game on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022 at Paynesville.
Paynesville senior Grayson Fuchs, 12, looks to fire off a pass during a Mid State 2 District game on Friday, Sept. 16, 2022 at Paynesville.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Grayson Fuchs

Sr. QB/DB, Paynesville

Paynesville's Grayson Fuchs
Paynesville's Grayson Fuchs
Submitted photo

Making his second appearance on the All-Area football team, Paynesville's Grayson Fuchs did it all for the 5-5 Bulldogs.

As the team's signal-caller, Fuchs completed 59.6 percent of his passes (121 of 203) for 1,678 yards and 20 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He also shouldered the load as a runner with 156 carries for 769 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Named the Mid State 2 District's defensive back of the year, Fuchs made 43.5 tackles (18 solo) and two interceptions. He was also named Academic All-State.

Fuchs is committed to play baseball at Division II St. Cloud State.

"Grayson is a true leader both on and off the field; his positive attitude and leadership were a huge factor in how our season went," said Paynesville head coach Tim Pattrin. "His ability to run and throw the ball drove our offense all season. He made numerous big plays with his arm and legs in key situations in games. He is a sure tackler on defense and understands the routes that are coming at him to make plays on the ball. He is truly a great all-around football player.”

RCW senior Noah Gullickson, 75, pass blocks Hancock's Weston Nohl during the Section 2 Nine-Man championship game on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022 at Lakeview High School in Cottonwood.
RCW senior Noah Gullickson, 75, pass blocks Hancock's Weston Nohl during the Section 2 Nine-Man championship game on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022 at Lakeview High School in Cottonwood.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Noah Gullickson

Sr. G/DT, Renville County West

Renville County West's Noah Gullickson
Renville County West's Noah Gullickson
Submitted photo

Noah Gullickson was a pillar in Renville County West's senior class that went 35-6 and went to four straight section championship games.

This season for the 9-1 Jaguars, Gullickson was a lead blocker for an offense that had 2,340 yards and 30 touchdowns in the run game and more than 1,000 yards and 15 TDs passing.

On the defensive line, Gullickson made 47 tackles (13 for loss) and had five sacks on the way to All-Nine Man South West District honors. He was also named Academic All-Sub District.

Gullickson will also represent RCW at the Minnesota High School Football All-Star Game on Saturday, Dec. 10 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

"Noah has been the foundation of our line over the past 3 seasons," said Jaguars head coach Ryan Hebrink. "It’s quite an accomplishment for Noah to be selected to the MN High School Football All-Star game. He is the first player in RCW history to be selected and the only nine-man player in the entire state to be selected this season. And it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving individual.”

KMS junior Hunter Kallstrom, 33, drops back to pass block ACGC's Carson Borchert during a Mid State 3 District game on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022 at Grove City.
KMS junior Hunter Kallstrom, 33, drops back to pass block ACGC's Carson Borchert during a Mid State 3 District game on Friday, Oct. 14, 2022 at Grove City.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Hunter Kallstrom

Jr. TE/FB/DE, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg

Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg's Hunter Kallstrom
Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg's Hunter Kallstrom
Submitted photo

Whether on offense or defense, Hunter Kallstrom was Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg's battering ram. And the Fighting Saints used Kallstrom's physicality to reach the Class A state tournament for the first time since 2008.

At fullback, Kallstrom ran the ball 92 times for 574 yards and six touchdowns, including KMS' lone score in a 28-6 loss to Springfield in the Class A state quarterfinals. Also lining up at tight end, he hauled in 35 balls for 566 yards and six scores.

On defense, Kallstrom bull-rushed his way to 53 tackles (42 solo, nine for loss) and nine sacks, earning All-Mid State 3 District and All-Section 4A honors. KMS wrapped up the season with an 8-3 record.

With a year to go in his prep career, Fighting Saints head coach Jason Fernholz said Kallstrom is getting D-I and D-II recruiting interest.

"He is always in the backfield and wreaks havoc," Fernholz said. "Anchored a defense that gave up just over 10 points a game. Opposing coaches tell us they try to game plan away from him. Offensively, he can do it all; good blocker and is fast."

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BOLD High School senior wide receiver Ryan King, center, bursts through a trio of Minneota defenders as the Warriors played host to the Vikings on Saturday, October 29, 2022, in Olivia.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Ryan King

Sr. WR/CB/P/K, BOLD

BOLD's Ryan King
BOLD's Ryan King
Submitted photo

Ryan King had a nose for the end zone for 8-2 BOLD.

The Warriors' top receiving threat, King wrapped up the season with 38 catches for 850 yards and 10 touchdowns on the way to being the Mid State 3 District's wide receiver of the year. On defense, King recorded 45 tackles (29 solo), two interceptions, one pass deflection and a fumble recovery.
King's leg was also frequently used by BOLD, averaging 36.5 yards per punt and 39.7 yards per kickoff one one touchback.

King was the Section 5A nominee for Mr. Football. He also ranks third in school history in career receptions (67) and receiving yards (1,548).

"Ryan has improved as a wide receiver every day over the past two years," said Warriors head coach Derek Flann. "After moving from TE to WR as a junior, he has consistently gotten better at his craft. He always showed up in big games and played at his best. He is a match-up nightmare for a (high school cornerback) at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds with sprinter speed. As a defender Ryan has played defensive end as a freshman, safety as a sophomore and junior, and cornerback as a senior. That certainly speaks to his versatility as an athlete. He came on as a defender in his senior season and was an every-down player on our defense. He is a quiet, mild-mannered kid, but he is a work horse on the football field."

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BBE senior wide receiver Jamison Reed, center, goes up for a pass while being heavily defended by Nathan Zander, far left, and Landon Salmela of Maple Lake during a game in Belgrade on Friday, September 9, 2022.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

Jamison Reed

Sr. WR/DB, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa

Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa's Jamison Reed
Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa's Jamison Reed
Submitted photo

Few players around the area, let alone Class A, were as imposing a target as Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa's 6-5, 200-pound senior Jamison Reed.

While helping the Jaguars to a 7-3 record, Reed hauled in 44 balls for 696 yards and nine touchdowns. He was named BBE's offensive team MVP. Then on defense, he recorded 16 tackles and two interceptions.

Named All-Mid State 3 District, Reed is BBE's record holder in career receiving yards (1,484) and is tied for first in career receptions (90). Reed was selected to play in the Minnesota High School Football All-Star Game.

"Jamison was a guy that was able to get open in double and triple coverage," said Jaguars head coach Chris Moscho. "He opened up running lanes and played defense when we needed him to."

KMS senior Isaac Rudningen, 7, comes up with a catch and looks to get around Springfield's Sam Pidde during a Class A state quarterfinal game on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022 at Old National Bank Stadium in St. Bonifacius.
KMS senior Isaac Rudningen, 7, comes up with a catch and looks to get around Springfield's Sam Pidde during a Class A state quarterfinal game on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022 at Old National Bank Stadium in St. Bonifacius.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Isaac Rudningen

Sr. TE/MLB, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg

Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg's Isaac Rudningen
Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg's Isaac Rudningen
Submitted photo

Isaac Rudningen did a little bit of everything in Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg's run to the state tournament.

The Fighting Saints' top receiver, he caught 29 passes for 503 yards and six touchdowns. Then as the team's middle linebacker, he made 66 tackles (46 solo, four for loss) with three interceptions and a sack.

After an injury to starting quarterback Jared Cortez, Rudningen filled in at QB for a spell, completing 24 of 58 throws for 363 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions. He also ran 43 times for 308 yards and a score.

Rudningen was named All-Mid State 3 District and All-Section 4A. He is committed to play at Division II University of Sioux Falls as a linebacker. His older brother, Dylan, is a running back for the Cougars.

"Jack of all trades," KMS head coach Jason Fernholz said of Isaac. "Has been counted on as on offensive, defensive and team leader the last two seasons. Very competitive and one of, if not the, most high football IQ kid I’ve coached. Knows every position on the field. Very skilled athlete. Turn to him when a big play is needed. Anchored a defense that gave up just over 10 points a game."

Willmar senior Mattix Swanson tackles a Hutchinson player during a North Central White District game on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022 at Hodapp Field in Willmar.
Willmar senior Mattix Swanson tackles a Hutchinson player during a North Central White District game on Friday, Sept. 9, 2022 at Hodapp Field in Willmar.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Mattix Swanson

Sr. LB, Willmar

Willmar's Mattix Swanson
Willmar's Mattix Swanson
Submitted photo

A three-year starter for the Willmar defense, linebacker Mattix Swanson was as hard-nosed as they come.

Playing in the defensive front seven for the 6-4 Cardinals, Swanson had 115 tackles (52 solo, four for loss) and a sack. He also recovered a pair of fumbles and had an interception return for a touchdown in the Section 2AAAA quarterfinals against Faribault. It was his second straight season with over 100 tackles.

A two-time All-North Central White District selection, Swanson ranks third in Willmar school history in career tackles (256).

"He makes plays all over the field," said Cardinals head coach Jon Konold. "Mattix has great energy and passion for the game of football."

Willmar junior Ramero Trevino, middle, drags Rocori's Grayson Hoeschen along for extra running yards during a North Central White District game on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022 at Hodapp Field in Willmar.
Willmar junior Ramero Trevino, middle, drags Rocori's Grayson Hoeschen along for extra running yards during a North Central White District game on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022 at Hodapp Field in Willmar.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Ramero Trevino

Jr. RB, Willmar

Willmar's Ramero Trevino
Willmar's Ramero Trevino
Submitted photo

Getting his chance to take on the lead back role in the Willmar offense, it was hard to contain Ramero Trevino once he got on a roll.

Standing at 5-11 and 180 pounds, Trevino used his combination of speed and power to run for 1,057 yards and 16 touchdowns on 194 carries. He also had 22 receptions for 215 yards and a touchdown. He compiled these numbers against a schedule that had three teams make the state tournament: Hutchinson, Rocori and Chisago Lakes.

In his first season as a starter, Trevino's 16 touchdowns rank second in school history, according to Cardinals head coach Jon Konold. He is also the seventh player at Willmar since 1980 to break through 1,000 rushing yards.

"Ramero broke out in a big way this season," Konold said. "Not only is he a great runner, he also was dynamic in catching the ball out of the backfield. His versatility led the Cardinals' offense this season. Speed and power was the calling card of Ramero."

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Honorable Mentions

Luke Dingmann
Jr. QB/DB, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa
60% completions for 1,840 yards, 21 passing TDs, 330 rushing yards, 9 rushing TDs; All-Mid State 3, District QB of the year, Team MVP; set team record in career TD passes (40) and career completions (234).

Owen Flann
So. DT/G, BOLD
85 tackles (44 solo, 12 TFL), 5 saves, 13 hurries, 1 pass defended, 1 blocked PAT; All-Mid State 3.

Marshel Johnson
Jr. OG/DT, New London-Spicer
24 pancake blocks; 34 tackles (5 TFL), 3 sacks. Per Wildcats head coach Chad Gustafson, "Marshel paved the way for the Wildcats' offense to make 3,427 yards of offense and 35 points per game."

Garret Kostad
Sr. LT/DL, Dawson-Boyd
32 tackles; All-Southwest West, named sub-district's most valuable OL and DL; "Our best lineman on a team that produced just under 400 yards/game" per Blackjacks head coach Cory Larson.

Bradley Larson
Sr. LB/G, Litchfield
94 tackles (4 TFL), 3 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries; All-East Central South, named district's most valuable LB.

Holt Larson
Sr. RB/LB/KR, Dawson-Boyd
156 carries for 1,223 yards and 14 touchdowns, two receiving touchdowns; 61 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 defensive touchdown; 3 kickoff return touchdowns; All-Southwest West, named sub-district MVP.

Francis O'Malley
Jr. RB/LB, Montevideo
188 carries for 1,537 yards and 20 touchdowns; 58 tackles (43 solo, 10 TFL); All-Mid State 1, named district's most valuable RB, team MVP, team's most valuable back; Set school records for rushing yards in a game (342), rushing yards in a season (1,537), rushing touchdowns in a game (7) and tied for rushing touchdowns in a season (20).

Carter Rice
Sr. G/DE, Renville County West
34 tackles (22 solo, 8 TFL), 4.5 sacks; All-Nine Man South West, team defensive MVP.

Gabe Rohman
Sr. WR/DB/K/P, New London-Spicer
27 catches for 548 yards and 9 touchdowns; 50 tackles, 3 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries; 34 yards/punt, 44 yards/kickoff; All-East Central South, All-Section 6AAA.

Tate Sheehan
Jr. MLB/G/LS, BOLD
123 tackles (54 solo, 9 TFL), 2 sacks, 4 hurries, 2 passes defended, 4 fumble recoveries, 2 forced fumbles; All-Mid State 3, district LB of the year; Set single-game school record with 15 solo tackles vs. Minneota.

Hayden Venenga
Jr. OT, Willmar
47 pancake blocks; All-North Central White. Per Cardinals head coach Jon Konold, "Hayden emerged as one of the most dominant linemen in Class AAAA. ... He has the potential to be one of the top players in the state in 2023."

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