ST. ANSGAR | Junior Ethan Kirchgatter looks surprised when he’s asked for a TV interview.
Junior Garrett Koster spots Kirchgatter smiling for an interview, he gives him a hard slap as he runs by.
“He always does that,” Kirchgatter says.
Kirchgatter’s role often goes unnoticed. He’s the Saints top receiver on offense with nine receptions for 158 yards this year, but the Saints hardly ever throw the ball with a three-man squad that dominates the ground game.
Friday, Kirchgatter grabbed his fourth interception of the year, a lofty pass down the right sideline by Gladbrook-Reinbeck backup quarterback Walker Thede. Kirchgatter ran 15-yards, setting up a scoring drive for the Saints on offense by senior Josh Van Vliet to make it 21-7.
“We’ve been practicing all week about getting our depth and we know they like to pass so the ball,” Kirchgatter said. “Went up and tried to make a play on the ball and came down with it.”
Kirchgatter had many more opportunities like it, his 6-foot-2 stature and long wingspan allows him to brush his fingertips over every ball.
“He has a little bit of a nose for the ball,” Saints head coach Drew Clevenger said. “Obviously, it’s a tough situation with their injury situation, so maybe a few more balls available but he does a good job of making plays on the ball.”
Like Kirchgatter, sophomore Jack Sievert plays an unsung role for the Saints.
Behind record-breaking senior Dayton Smith and Van Vliet, Sievert is the up-and-coming leader already taking on a bigger role.
“It’s just awesome, I love looking up to them and seeing what they do and just going with it,” Sievert said. “This is my first year playing a big role.”
Sievert ran for 156 yards on 20 carries, making him the second best rusher to carry the Saints through a 35-7 victory over Gladbrook-Reinbeck to lead the Saints to state.
“Jack’s gotten better, hard to believe he’s only a sophomore as you watch him out there,” Clevenger said. “He continues to surprise people week by week with how physical he is. He started the year at linebacker, and we moved him down to defensive end about week four. And I think our defense got better on both ends.”
While both have increased their roles from last year, Kirchgatter and Sievert had the same chip on their shoulder from last year’s loss to Gladbrook-Reinbeck. Friday, they had a part in the play for revenge.
“Nobody thought we’d do it, yet, here we are,” Sievert said.