Right after St. Ansgar’s Class A quarterfinal victory over two-time defending state champion Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Collin Kramer’s older sister Tara took to Twitter to post a poll on the topic of which one of her brothers — Collin or Jared — was the better St. Ansgar quarterback.
Jared starred for the Saints at the position in 2014 while Collin is a first-year starter who has helped lead the team to a semifinal appearance today vs. Hudson at 10:05 a.m. in the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
So, veteran coach Drew Clevenger, what’s the answer?
“In comparison with Jared and Collin, I think Collin is a little more of an explosive athlete right now and Jared maybe had the edge in at least throwing the ball, at least right now, but Collin is coming along in that way, too,” Clevenger said. “We were fortunate to have both of them in our program.
“I think they have fun with it. We’re just happy to have good, quality kids in our program.”
Comparisons aside, Collin is having himself a nice season in his first season under center for the Saints.
In St. Ansgar’s run-first offense, Kramer, a junior, has still managed to put up solid numbers in limited attempts. Through 10 games played (the Saints are 11-0 with a forfeit win over North Butler), Kramer is 20 for 50 with 415 yards and four touchdowns. He’s also averaging 20.8 per completion.
It’s his work in the running game that has leaped off the page for Clevenger.
Kramer has run the ball 49 times for 482 yards, which is good enough for 9.8 yards a pop, and has nine touchdowns.
“I always thought I was going to be a running back,” Kramer said. “And then I got fat in middle school and was changed to a fullback, and then I got tall in high school and was changed to a quarterback.”
The task for Kramer coming into the year was a tall order — how could he fill in for two-year starter Ben Boerjan? He’s done that and more, both on offense and on defense, where Clevenger said Kramer has really shined — he has five interceptions and 34½ tackles from his defensive back spot.
“We thought he was a good fit early in the year but just hadn’t had a lot of experience at the varsity level,” Clevenger said. “He’s gotten more physical as the year has gone on and has certainly done a better job tackling the latter half of the year. I think he’s just scratching the surface of what he can do defensively.”
To Kramer, he’s just happy to be in the position he’s in — helping lead the Saints back to the Dome.
“It feels awesome,” he said. “It’s a little bit nerve-wracking, but that happens, I guess.”
The next challenge is one that steps up considerably with Hudson.
The Pirates stand at 11-0 ahead of today’s matchup, and their offense has been hard to contain for opposing teams this season. Christian Seres has a team-best 1,661 yards and 25 touchdowns on the ground while quarterback Jacob Murray has thrown for 1,111 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The Pirates defeated Lynnville-Sully in the quarterfinals 30-0 to advance to today’s game.
“For us — I say this all the time — it comes down to we need to have a good game up front,” Clevenger said. “I think we’ve had many great offensive lines over the years and I would never say one offensive line’s the best because you can’t compare that, but from Week 1 to Week 11 I think this group has grown as much as anybody we’ve had.”
For the group of big guys, they're proud of the work they’ve helped create for St. Ansgar’s stable of backs. The most fun they have is picking apart defenses.
“Teams think that they can shut us down,” St. Ansgar senior Dylan Bissen said. “They’re defenses let up 200 or 100 yards a game, and then they see us and we just rack up the yards against them.
“That’s a big point of pride. We don’t even need to pass the ball. We can just run it all night.”
The Saints know if they play their game to perfection, they’ll be in it all the way until the end. It’s executing that plan that will be the difference.