Tribune announces First Team All-Area Football

Published 10:38 pm Friday, November 17, 2017

Area football players recognized

First Team

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Perry Peterson

NRHEG, senior, running back

Peterson lead the six-team coverage area with 1,438 yards rushing in 223 attempts, more than the second-place rusher by nearly double. He led the area with 18 touchdowns on the ground. Peterson was also a force on defense, recording over 30 tackles and having the fourth-highest total on the team at his linebacker position. He was a big factor that led to the Panthers making it to the quarterfinal round of the Section 2AA tournament.

Dalton Bradley

Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons, senior, linebacker

Bradley led the area in total tackles with 137 and also racked up three defensive touchdowns for the Knights. He was described by his head coach as the “heart and soul” of the defense that gave up just 108 total points throughout its 10-game season. He was a playmaker in big-time situations and was a huge key in the Knights having their turnaround season, finishing with an 8-2 record.

Cole Wentzel

Albert Lea, junior, quarterback/running back

Wentzel was not only a big factor in the running game of the Tigers this season, but was also an offensive leader for a portion of the season after stepping in at quarterback for an injured Alex Goodmanson. Wentzel picked up 455 yards rushing on the year, while throwing for 320 yards. He also contributed to the defense with 70 tackles, six of which were behind the line of scrimmage, and snagged two interceptions.

AJ Branstad

Northwood-Kensett, senior, offensive/defensive line

Branstad was a senior leader for the Vikings all season. His play showed that on both sides of the ball, but especially on defense. He was selected as the defensive player of the year in Northwood-Kensett’s district and was named to his second consecutive All-District team. Branstad compiled 61 tackles, 6.5 sacks and recovered two fumbles throughout the season.

Alex Albert

Lake Mills, senior, running back

Albert was a dual threat out of the backfield for the Bulldogs. He racked up 576 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground, but also added 203 yards and two touchdowns receiving on top of that. Not only was he a threat on offense, but he was a scorer on special teams as well, returning two kickoffs for touchdowns. In total Albert gained 1,193 yards and scored 12 touchdowns for the Bulldogs in 2017.

Jake Stevermer

United South Central, junior, offensive line/linebacker

Stevermer was a force on the Rebels offensive line who allowed the backfield to rush for nearly 1,700 yards and 20 touchdowns this year. He was also a beast at his linebacker position, racking up the area’s second-highest tackle total with 132. Stevermer also recorded four sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.

Luke Morrison

Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons, junior, fullback/linebacker

The second of the Knights to make the All-Area team, Morrison was a strong piece on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. He rushed for 722 yards and eight touchdowns, all while boasting a 5.97-yard-per-rush average. Defensively, Morrison notched 55 tackles during the season and 1.5 sacks as part of the stout Knights defense.

Kolbie Eriksmoen

Albert Lea, junior, linebacker

Eriksmoen was third in total tackles in the area with 81. He also managed to grab five tackles for loss and one sack throughout his junior year with the Tigers. Albert Lea showed flashes throughout the season that its defense could hold its own against some tough opponents. Eriksmoen has a bright future if he can build off what he started this season.

Garrett Thompson

Northwood-Kensett, senior, tight end/defensive line

Thompson, the second of the Vikings to make the list, led the area in touchdown receptions with three while also leading the Vikings with 175 receiving yards. He also recorded 49 tackles along with 4.5 sacks and two fumble recoveries, and was named First Team All-District for his play.

Zach Niebuhr

United South Central, sophomore, running back/linebacker

The only sophomore to make the All-Area First Team, Niebuhr showed he can play at a young age. He was second in the area in total rushing yards with 728 and added seven touchdowns on the ground, as well. Niebuhr also contributed on the defensive side of the ball, racking up 76 tackles, ranking fifth in the area and scoring a defensive touchdown after an interception.

Gavin Steele

Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons, senior, tight end/defensive line

Steele was another cog in the system for the overpowering Knights defense. He recorded 38 tackles and three sacks throughout the season. Head coach Chad Mattson said teams avoided his side of the field all season, which made it much easier to focus their defensive schemes. Offensively, Steele had 11 receptions for 127 yards and two touchdowns. He also hauled in two two-point conversion attempts.

Roel Perales

United South Central, junior, running back/defensive back

Perales rushed for 644 yards on 106 carries and 10 touchdowns for the Rebels. He also had 12 receptions for 88 yards and one touchdown. Head coach Brandon Neseth described Perales as one of the most explosive players in the district and the fastest player he has ever coached.

Second Team

Gavin Varner

Northwood-Kensett, junior, offensive/defensive line

Varner led the Vikings in tackles with 69 and finished tied with teammate AJ Branstad for most sacks in the area with six. Branstad also recorded one interception.

Hayden Johnston

Albert Lea, sophomore, linebacker

Johnston tallied 49 tackles for the Tigers, nine of which were behind the line of scrimmage. He also notched five sacks and four forced fumbles on the season.

Levi Thisius

United South Central, senior, offensive line/linebacker

Credited as being the leader of the team, Thisius recorded 106 tackles, one sack and forced two fumbles for the Rebels.

Colton Moretz

Northwood-Kensett, senior, running back/linebacker

Moretz led the Vikings in rushing with 633 yards and nine touchdowns. Defensively, he added 58 tackles.

Isaac Burgett

Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons, freshman, running back

Burgett totaled 616 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on just 87 carries.

Anthony Rasmussen

Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons, senior, offensive line

Rasmussen was part of the dominant offensive line from the Knights. Mattson credits the line as being vital to the success the team had this season.

Tommy Kaktis

Lake Mills, junior, receiver

Kaktis led the area in receiving yards with 374 yards on 22 catches.

Dawson Dahlum

Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons, sophomore, running back/return specialist

Dahlum totaled 553 yards and six touchdowns on 93 attempts. He also averaged 12.2 yards per punt return and 19.9 yards per kick return.

Gabe Irons

Lake Mills, senior, defensive line/kicker

Defensively, Irons recorded 45 tackles including four for a loss. In his high school career, he was also 53/60 on point after tries and was a perfect 5/5 on field goal attempts.

Tyler Jacobson

NRHEG, junior, fullback/middle linebacker

Jacobson was the defensive leader for the Panthers, according to head coach Dan Stork. He led the team in tackles with 63.

Honorable Mention

Trevor Kuethe

Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons, senior, defensive line

Justin Nemek

Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons, sophomore, offensive line

Austin Attig

Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons, junior, offensive line

Kaleb Bendickson

Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons, senior, quarterback/safety

Cole Bergo

Lake Mills, senior, linebacker

Maverick Schmitt

Lake Mills, junior, linebacker

Logan Prescott

Lake Mills, sophomore, punter

AJ Kloos

United South Central, sophomore, receiver/defensive back

Quintin Arndt

NRHEG, junior, offensive/defensive line

Sam Kliment

Northwood-Kensett, junior, running back/defensive back

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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