Edgerton/Ellsworth ready to defend the team’s 9-man state championship crownEDGERTON — After years of knocking on the door and coming up a little bit short of the ultimate goal, the Edgerton/Ellsworth Flying Dutchmen finally broke through and won the Class 9-man state championship in 2011 — capping a perfect 14-0 season.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
EDGERTON — After years of knocking on the door and coming up a little bit short of the ultimate goal, the Edgerton/Ellsworth Flying Dutchmen finally broke through and won the Class 9-man state championship in 2011 — capping a perfect 14-0 season.
E/E simply dominated throughout the regular season last fall, scoring 52 points or more seven times on its way to an undefeated Southern Confederacy Conference title.
The Flying Dutchmen were challenged more often throughout their six playoff games, but they found ways to keep winning and ended the season with a thrilling 36-28 victory over Wheaton/Herman-Norcross in the Prep Bowl.
“We had a tremendous season and really had a lot of fun winning the state championship,” veteran E/E head coach Andrew Fleischman said. “All the hard work and preparation we put in paid off. But we have to put that behind us now and get ready for the challenges in front of us this season.”
E/E will be without the services of a pair of All-State and Daily Globe All-Area performers in Johnny Menning and Casey Schilling, who both graduated along with Wade Gunnink. Menning recorded 23 quarterback sacks as a defensive end last year, while Schilling had 68 receptions for 1,278 yards and 21 touchdowns as the Dutchmen’s go-to receiver.
However, E/E has nearly everybody else back — including senior quarterback Isaac Heard, another Daily Globe All-Area selection. Heard, who ran for 514 yards and seven touchdowns, was 169-for-250 passing with 2,767 yards and 35 touchdowns a year ago.
“Isaac had a great season and has worked hard to get better in the offseason,” Fleischman said. “He is very good at finding the open receivers and also making plays with his legs. He will be our leader once again.”
The Flying Dutchmen also have their three starting interior offensive linemen coming back. Senior Austin DeLong returns at center, while senior DC Claar — a Daily Globe All-Area performer — and junior Austin Mertens return at the two guard positions.
Senior Derek Voge and junior Wyatt Schaap are taking over for Menning and Schilling as E/E’s starting offensive ends, while junior Mitch Leuthold and sophomore Andy Menning will provide depth along the line of scrimmage.
“Our offensive line is solid,” Fleischman said. “Those guys were so important to our success last year, and we’re glad that they are back for another season up front.”
Senior Devin Hulstein, senior Dan Kramer and transfer A.J. Ciaburri will be Heard’s top targets at wide receiver. Hulstein was named to the Daily Globe All-Area team last season after racking up 841 yards receiving, 806 yards rushing and 20 total touchdowns.
E/E also has the luxury of returning a deep and experienced corps of running backs. Senior Blake Jouwstra, senior Austin LaFollette, junior Jorge Lopez, junior Nate Paulsen and sophomore Tyler Kurrasch are all back and will share the workload of running the ball for the Dutchmen.
“We like to mix the ball around and get all of those guys carries,” Fleischman said. “We have a lot of depth at our skill positions, and we are going to try and utilize everybody as best as we can.”
Mertens (nose guard), Claar (defensive end) and Schaap (defensive end) will start along the defensive line, with Menning, Kramer, Leuthold and junior Trent Bleyenburg providing depth.
Voge and Kurrasch are slated to play at middle linebacker, while Jouwstra, Lopez, Paulsen and sophomore Ashton Roskamp will see time at outside linebacker.
LaFollette, Hulstein and junior Jesse Berning will patrol the defensive secondary as either cornerbacks or safeties.
“We have good depth and versatility defensively, as well,” Fleischman said. “We have a lot of good players who can play a lot of different spots, so we’re excited about our potential.
“We are taking the same approach heading into the season, looking to get better every week,” Fleischman continued. “We have a good nucleus of players returning, and they have all worked hard and prepared during the offseason. We are very excited to get started.”
The Dutchmen got things under way Thursday with a home game against Alden-Conger. E/E will travel to play Hills-Beaver Creek in a key game Friday night.