2008 All-Area Football TeamLuverne senior running back Phil Paquette captains 2008 All-Area Football Team.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
Phil Paquette, senior running back/cornerback, Luverne Cardinals
Senior Phil Paquette and his Luverne Cardinal teammates won 34 of the 42 football games they played during the last three seasons.
Luverne won three straight Section 3AA championships and finished as back-to-back-to-back Class AA state runners-up, as the Cardinals became an area powerhouse and a state-title contender.
Paquette, the 2008 Daily Globe All-Area Captain, was a key member of all three of those teams and finished his career with impressive rushing statistics.
After gaining 434 yards and 1,314 yards on the ground during his sophomore and junior seasons, respectively, Paquette carried the ball 258 times for 1,516 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and rushed for 16 touchdowns this year.
“Phil has very good vision as a running back, and his ability to see the open running lanes allowed him to have success carrying the ball,” Luverne head coach Todd Oye said. “He is a tough runner and was difficult to tackle. He is an outstanding athlete and a major reason why we were so successful.”
Paquette finished his career by averaging 5.5 yards per carry (3,264 yards on 591 attempts) and running for 27 touchdowns. He also had 201 yards and two touchdowns catching the ball out of the backfield, and charted 83 tackles and three interceptions as a cornerback.
Paquette’s best game this season came in the section championship game against Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, as he carried the ball 30 times for 211 yards and a touchdown to help spark the Cardinals to a 35-14 victory.
“We had a very good senior class, and Phil was a guy we could always count on to make big plays,” Oye said. “He learned a lot as a sophomore backup to Derek Elbers before having two very good seasons as the featured back.”
Paquette was an honorable mention all-state selection and was named the co-Southwest Conference Offensive Back of the Year to cap his high school career.
Isaac Dolan Senior quarterback T-M-B Panthers
Repeating as the Little Sioux Conference Offensive Back of the Year, Dolan led the Panthers to a second consecutive 8-0 regular season.
Dolan started 34 straight games at quarterback throughout his career and finished this season with 2,026 yards (113-for-250) and 22 touchdown passes.
He finished his career at T-M-B by passing for 5,640 yards (330-for-721) and 58 touchdowns.
Nathan Brandt Senior quarterback JCC Huskies
Rushing 132 times for 674 yards and five touchdowns to go along with 989 yards passing (59-for-113) and six more touchdowns, Brandt had a big season for the Huskies despite missing parts of three games.
Brandt, who was selected as the Co-Offensive Back of the Year in the Southwest Conference, was also a three-year starter as a defensive back and handled the Huskies’ punting and return duties.
Alex Heard Junior quarterback Edgerton Flying Dutchmen
Heard was second in the Southern Confederacy Conference in passing, as he finished the season with 1,678 yards and 17 touchdowns through the air.
“Alex is a great leader and is the smartest player I have ever coached,” head coach Andrew Fleischman said.
Josh Merrick Senior running back W-WG Chargers
Rushing the football 184 times for 1,521 yards (8.3 yards per carry), Merrick scored 21 touchdowns on the ground this season and was voted as the Southern Confederacy Conference Back of the Year.
Also a shut-down cornerback on defense according to co-head coach Leo Theisen, Merrick had touchdown runs of 95, 77, 75 and 67 yards this year and finished his career by running for 2,137 yards and 29 touchdowns.
Jesse Brake Senior running back Adrian Dragons
Running for 1,221 yards and 12 touchdowns, Brake had another good season and was voted as Adrian’s Most Valuable Player.
A four-year starter on defense, Brake had 108 tackles and a pair of interceptions as a safety this year.
“Jesse was a great leader who was always doing what it takes to make his team better,” head coach Randy Strand said.
Clint Jurgens Senior running back Windom Eagles
Head coach Erin Elder described Jurgens as the “total-package back,” as he rushed for 568 yards and scored five touchdowns.
“Clint is a great runner, a great run blocker and a great pass blocker,” Elder said.
Jurgens was Windom’s Most Valuable Player and added 55 total tackles as a middle linebacker.
Chace Hulstein Junior running back Edgerton Flying Dutchmen
With more than 1,200 yards rushing as a running back and 17 quarterback sacks as a defensive end, Hulstein helped the Flying Dutchmen claim a share of the Southern Confederacy Conference championship.
Hulstein was named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year, as he had 15 sacks in conference action.
Mason Comnick Junior fullback W-WG Chargers
Accounting for 971 yards of offense (740 rushing, 231 receiving), Comnick helped the Chargers finish tied with Edgerton atop the Southern Confederacy Conference standings with a 7-1 league mark.
“Mason excelled at blocking and also became a very shifty and gutty runner for us,” co-head coach Leo Theisen said.
Mike Vorwald Senior wide receiver Worthington Trojans
Described by head coach Dennis Hale as “an all-around great player with an outstanding will to win,” Vorwald was one of the Trojans’ top receivers and caught 42 passes for 477 yards this season.
Vorwald’s biggest game this season was in Week 4, as he caught 10 passes for 110 yards and a trio of touchdowns against Brandon Valley.
Aduo Omot Senior wide receiver Worthington Trojans
Catching 29 passes for 354 yards and four touchdowns, and rushing 27 times for 258 yards (nearly 10 yards per carry), Omot was a dynamic player for Worthington.
“Aduo was one of the most outstanding players in the Southwest Conference,” head coach Dennis Hale said. “He was a threat to go all the way every time he touched the ball.”
John Swenhaugen Senior wide receiver T-M-B Panthers
Hauling in 49 passes for 618 yards and catching 11 touchdown passes, Swenhaugen helped the Panthers repeat as Little Sioux Conference champs.
Swenhaugen added four rushing touchdowns and averaged 10 yards per carry (21 carries for 209 yards). He also picked off four passes as a defensive back.
Sam Dooyema Senior offensive tackle Luverne Cardinals
One of the hardest-working players to ever play at Luverne, Dooyema holds the school’s overall weightlifting record and led the Cardinals to a 15-3 postseason record during the last three years.
Dooyema, a three-year starter, was named the Southwest Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year this season. He was also second on the team in tackles with 88 stops from his inside linebacker position.
Justin Knakmuhs Senior offensive guard W-WG Chargers
Voted as the Southern Confederacy Conference Lineman of the Year, Knakmuhs was a force along the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball.
“We ran behind Justin or his trap block 85 percent of the time, and he was the guy on defense that you better have a blocking scheme for,” co-head coach Leo Theisen said.
Knakmuhs had 126 tackles and 8.5 sacks this season, finishing his career with 281 tackles and 22 sacks.
Jake Smith Senior offensive guard SWU Wildcats
SWU’s Lineman of the Year for three straight seasons, Smith dominated on the offensive line.
“Jake really found out what it was like to play with an attitude this year, and most of our runs were to his side of the ball,” co-head coach Jason Fisher said.
Smith also had 43 tackles and six sacks as a defensive lineman, and was the team’s Most Valuable Player this year.
Matt Mayou Senior offensive guard H-LP Wolves
A three-time All-District performer for the Wolves, Mayou contributed both ways.
“Matt can get off the ball quicker than anyone I have seen,” head coach Lane Gunderson said.
Mayou charted 165 tackles and four sacks from his linebacker position.
Chris Hansen Senior center T-M-B Panthers
The best offensive lineman on a team that averaged more than 370 yards per game, Hansen was selected as the Little Sioux Conference Offensive Lineman of the Year.
Hansen also led the Panthers in tackles from his middle linebacker position, as he totaled 113 tackles and five sacks.
Tanner Loosbrock Senior defensive end Adrian Dragons
Despite playing the entire season with a broken bone in his left hand, Loosbrock had 106 tackles and five sacks in being voted Adrian’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Loosbrock also gained 205 yards and cleared paths for Jesse Brake as the team’s fullback.
“Tanner is a hard-nosed football player and a true blue Dragon,” head coach Randy Strand said.
Jace Jarmer Senior defensive end W-WG Chargers
Jarmer batted down 11 passes and charted 49 tackles and 5.5 sacks on defense, while adding 26 catches for 282 yards and three touchdowns as a tight end on offense.
“Jace had his best year as a Charger, as he was more physical this season,” co-head coach Leo Theisen said.
Brent Dinger Senior defensive end Luverne Cardinals
One of the leaders on a defensive line that helped limit opposing teams to less than 100 yards passing a game, Dinger had six sacks to help Luverne go 12-2 for the second straight season.
Also a tight end on offense, Dinger had five touchdown catches — including a key fourth-down touchdown catch in the state semifinals against Hawley.
Phillip Altman Senior defensive end Luverne Cardinals
A two-year starter at defensive end, Altman led the Cardinals with 13 sacks this season and finished his career with 20 quarterback takedowns.
“Phillip was able to use his speed and technique as a pass rusher off the edge to limit the other team’s passing game,” head coach Todd Oye said.
Matt Fodness Senior defensive tackle Luverne Cardinals
Voted as Luverne’s Most Valuable Defensive Lineman, Fodness was a big part of a defense that held opponents to less than 100 yards rushing per game.
Fodness also started at fullback where he helped clear paths for Phil Paquette and “would always give you three yards when carrying the ball,” according to head coach Todd Oye.
Derek Eichner Senior linebacker W-WG Chargers
With 167 tackles and 10 sacks this year, Eichner caused some havoc for opposing offenses.
Eichner also played well as the Chargers’ quarterback, completing 99 of his 168 passes for 1,030 yards and 10 touchdowns.
“Derek loved to hit and hit hard, and he also knew our offensive schemes inside and out,” W-WG co-head coach Leo Theisen said.
Andy Henning Senior linebacker Fulda Raiders
Rarely, if ever, leaving the field throughout the course of a game, Henning was one of the Raiders’ leaders this year.
Henning totaled 109 tackles (eight for loss) and recovered five fumbles on defense, and carried the ball 150 times for 594 yards and five touchdowns as a fullback.
Mike Stenzel Senior linebacker SWU Wildcats
Charting 100-plus tackles for the third straight season, Stenzel finished his career as the Wildcats’ all-time leader with 357 tackles.
Stenzel had 117 total tackles this year and had 20 stops against Adrian in the Section 3A quarterfinals.
“Mike has a great nose for the football, and you could tell he loved to play the game,” SWU co-head coach Jason Fisher said.
Zach Olson Senior linebacker Luverne Cardinals
Capable of playing just about every position on the football field, Olson helped lead Luverne to back-to-back Southwest Conference crowns.
Olson led Luverne with 108 tackles and was selected as the SWC’s co-Defensive Back of the Year. He also played at quarterback, fullback and wide receiver on offense.
“Zach’s blend of size and speed helped him cover the field from sideline to sideline,” head coach Todd Oye said.
Julio Casillas Senior linebacker Worthington Trojans
Leading the Trojans in both defensive points (183) and tackles (117), Casillas played a key role on defense.
Casillas also contributed on the other side of the ball, as he was a two-year starter at offensive guard.
Kale Leuthold Senior linebacker H-BC/E Patriots
Leuthold, a four-year letterwinner and a three-year starter, racked up 155.5 total tackles and had 5.5 sacks this season.
Also a fullback on offense, Leuthold ran for 580 yards and eight touchdowns on 100 carries.
Tanner Leuthold Senior linebacker H-BC/E Patriots
With 155 total tackles, Leuthold formed a dominant combination at linebacker along with cousin Kale Leuthold.
Leuthold, who had 12 receptions for 173 yards and three touchdowns as a tight end this year, had a huge game in the Section 3 9-man semifinals against Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley when he registered 30 total tackles.
Pat Kleinjan Senior linebacker Edgerton Flying Dutchmen
Named Edgerton’s “best all-around football player” by head coach Andrew Fleischman, Kleinjan played all over the field and averaged more than 10 tackles per game.
While Kleinjan played primarily as a linebacker on defense, he lined up at every offensive position except guard throughout the course of the season.
Kleinjan had 568 receiving and 452 rushing yards.
Zack Clark Senior cornerback Luverne Cardinals
Clark scored 13 touchdowns (nine receiving, three punt returns, one interception return) this year and was named the Southwest Conference Co-Special Teams Player of the Year for his kick- and punt-return abilities.
“Zack is the fastest player Luverne has had over the past 10 years, and as a cornerback, he would always cover the best wideout from the other team,” head coach Todd Oye said.
Adam Diekmann Junior cornerback Adrian Dragons
As versatile as any player in the area, Diekmann helped the Dragons reach the Section 3A title game this season.
Diekmann had 79 tackles and four interceptions from his cornerback position. He also rushed for 450 yards and caught 35 passes for 542 yards as a wingback/wide receiver and booted 20 extra points as a kicker in addition to his kickoff, punting and return duties.
Ben Scheevel Senior safety SWU Wildcats
Scheevel had nine interceptions through the first five games of the season, and co-head coach Jason Fisher said “no one threw at him after that.”
Finishing his career as SWU’s all-time leader with 16 interceptions, Scheevel was also the Wildcats’ quarterback and was 57-for-167 passing for 715 yards and five touchdowns this season.