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Regardless of how much college and NFL football we have left, there’s nothing quite like high school action. During an incredibly entertaining season, seven area teams made the playoffs, including West Hancock and Rockford, which advanced to the UNI-Dome. Various conferences, divisions and classes separate the schools in the area, but quality play from countless players unites them. After some tough decisions and careful consideration, here is the Globe Gazette’s 2018 all-area football team.

Jacob Durant, senior offensive back, Algona

Durant’s rushing ability was one of the primary reasons for Algona’s 9-2 season. He led the way with 1,301 yards on 183 carries, which equated to 7.1 per attempt. He also added 12 scores on the ground and one through the air. He finished with 200 receiving yards, putting his total above 1,500 from scrimmage. Durant was named to the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association’s All-State Second team for his efforts.

Matt Grein, senior quarterback, Algona

Grein, the signal-caller for the Bulldogs, led one of the area’s premier passing attacks, which landed him on the All-State Third Team. Grein completed 57.6 percent of his passes for 2,091 yards and 26 touchdowns, compared to only three interceptions. He averaged only 4.5 yards per carry, but he punched it in five times on the ground, including a season-long score from 38 yards out.

Skylar Groen, senior linebacker, Algona

Groen, who joins Durant on the All-State Second Team, ranked third for the Bulldogs with 569 rushing yards and six scores. His 9.6 yards per carry ranked second on the team, and he also 27 catches for 589 yards and 10 touchdowns. The successful season also included a stellar defensive effort, as his 70 tackles ranked third among Bulldogs players.

Cole Lewis, junior defensive lineman, Algona

Cole Lewis, another Bulldogs player on the Class 2A All-State Second Team, finished the season with a team-leading 10 tackles for loss and three solo sacks. He was second on the team with 72 tackles on the season. He also recovered a pair of fumbles.

Wyatt Wegener, junior receiver, Algona

Wegener was the lone Algona player to make the Class 2A All-State First Team, as he was a threat to score every time he touched the ball. He carried the ball only 75 times this season, but he scored a team-leading 13 times on the ground while accumulating 10.6 yards per carry. As a receiver, he scored 12 touchdowns on 39 receptions, averaging a staggering 25.1 yards per catch. He also picked off two passes, recovered a fumble and had one kick return touchdown and another on a punt return.

Easton Barrus, senior utility, Belmond-Klemme

It’s tough to put a label on Barrus, who did a little of everything for the Broncos in 2018 on his way to a spot on the Class A All-State Third Team. Not only was he a quarterback who led the Broncos to a 7-2 record, but he also played defense and was the team’s kicker and punter. Barrus threw seven touchdowns and racked up 625 yards through the air. He also had 658 yards on the ground and 10 scores. He was impressive on special teams, converting 28 of 33 PATs while averaging 39.5 yards on his 24 punts. Throw in his 17 tackles, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries, and you have some impossible-to-ignore versatility.

Tucker Kroeze, senior linebacker, Belmond-Klemme

Kroeze once again proved he’s one of the best defenders in the area, becoming a unanimous selection for Class A District 4 Defensive Player of the Year. He was named to the All-State First Team and finished the season with 99 total tackles, 74 of which were solo. His output wasn’t limited to defense, as he led the Broncos with 901 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns.

Brad Capesius, senior defensive back, Bishop Garrigan

Capesius was the primary signal-caller for the Golden Bears, who went 11-1 this year, rattling off another undefeated regular season. Capesius threw nine touchdown passes and added 13 more on the ground, but his most impressive statistic came on the other side of the ball. The senior had a whopping nine interceptions in 2018, including three in a gutsy 12-7 victory against Wapsie Valley in the opening round of the playoffs. He also added a pair of solo sacks. He made the Class A All-State First Team as a defensive back.

TJ Schnurr, senior tight end, Bishop Garrigan

Schnurr was the main piece of the Golden Bears’ passing game, hauling in a team-high 27 receptions for 451 yards and seven touchdowns. The next-leading receiver on the team, Tristan Ferguson, had 14 catches for 233 yards and one score, for comparison. His impact was enough for a Second Team All-State selection in Class A. Along with his skills as a receiver and blocker, Schnurr was a valuable cog on the defensive line.

Zach Ryg, senior linebacker, Central Springs

Ryg, the Class A District 4 Defensive MVP, was also honored with an All-State First Team selection. He totaled a team-high 83 tackles in 2018, which included nine tackles for loss and two solo sacks. He was second on the team in rushing yards, rushing touchdowns, receptions and receiving yards.

Jack Barragy, junior defensive back, Clear Lake

Barragy was a key component of Clear Lake’s secondary this season, and his impact was enough to garner a spot on the Class 2A All-State Second Team. Barragy finished the season with 19.5 tackles and an interception. The statistics don’t jump off the page, but as a defensive back, your numbers won’t be great if quarterbacks aren’t throwing in your direction. Statistics for pass breakups and forced fumbles aren’t always kept, which would aid the case for many defensive backs in the area.

Jaylen DeVries, junior quarterback, Clear Lake

DeVries was the lone Lions player to make the All-State First Team, and it’s deserving after he completed what was perhaps the most impressive campaign of any quarterback in the area. The junior completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,828 yards and 22 touchdowns, all without throwing an interception. He added three more scores on the ground, but his poise and ability to take care of the football made Clear Lake’s offense potent and dangerous in 2018.

Ryan Thomas, junior offensive lineman, Clear Lake

Another player who landed on the Class 2A All-State First Team, Thomas helped stabilize an offense that was equally dangerous running the ball as it was throwing it. It’s tough to pull statistics for linemen, but Thomas’ performance was pivotal to Clear Lake’s successful offense. Teams with poor offensive line play struggle to keep the quarterback upright, and those teams have a difficult time creating lanes for their running backs. Clear Lake had no such struggles in 2018, and Thomas was a big reason for that.

Jace Pringnitz, senior running back, Garner-Hayfield-Ventura

Pringnitz earned a spot on the Class 2A Third Team after leading the Cardinals’ offense throughout the season. The Cardinals didn’t have much success passing the ball this season, and Pringnitz’s skillset made it relatively easy to predict who the ball was going to. The senior didn’t let that stop him, as he totaled 1,321 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, rushing the ball 237 times.

Kade Kloster-Hodak, senior lineman, Mason City

Kloster-Hodak, a First-Team All-District selection in Class 4A District 6, did a good job of controlling whatever defensive lineman came after him in 2018. Not much can be said about the Mohawks’ offensive production, but Kloster-Hodak was part of an offensive line that kept it from being much worse.

Troy Monahan III, senior lineman, Mason City

Much of what was said for Kloster-Hodak can be said for Monahan III. Another first-team selection in Class 4A District 6, Monahan was a tough matchup for defensive linemen this season.

Josh Fitzgerald, senior running back, Newman Catholic

Fitzgerald’s do-it-all skillset landed him multiple awards this season, including an appearance on the Class A All-State First Team and the Offensive MVP award for Class A District 4. Fitzgerald was a valuable weapon for a Knights offense that scored more than 40 points five times. He averaged 9.1 yards per carry, totaling 933 yards on 102 attempts, scoring nine touchdowns. He had a team-high 27 receptions for 309 yards and six scores, as well. Defensively, he finished with 31 tackles, one interception and a fumble recovery.

Evan Paulus, senior offensive lineman, Newman Catholic

Paulus was an important piece of Newman’s offensive and defensive line, and as a result, he made the Class A All-State Second Team. He was a key contributor to an offensive line that paved the way for an average of 5.7 yards per carry. Defensively, he led the team with 59.5 tackles and four fumble recoveries.

Gavin Varner, senior defensive lineman, Northwood-Kensett

Varner, a Class 8-Player All-State First Team selection and Defensive MVP in District 2, was a force to be reckoned with for the Vikings this season. He finished with 43 tackles, including two for loss, and had a sack. He was an impact player on a team that tallied six shutouts in 2018.

Gage Belz, junior receiver, Osage

Belz was one of two Green Devils who landed on the Class 1A All-State First Team. His quarterback, Brett Bobinet, had a historic season, and Belz’ receiving ability was an important part of a dynamic receiving corps. He ended the season with a team-high 47 receptions and 991 yards, finishing with seven touchdowns.

Brett Bobinet, senior quarterback, Osage

Bobinet broke several Osage records this season on his way to the Class 1A All-State First Team. His big-play ability led the Green Devils’ playoff charge, and he finished with numbers that rival the best passers in the state. Bobinet had 2,864 yards, 31 touchdowns and 13 interceptions on the year, completing 52.6 percent of his passes, leading a team that scored at least 32 points in all but three games.

Hayden Meek, senior receiver, Osage

Meek was a security blanket for Bobinet, who found the senior a team-high 57 times in 2018. Meek finished the season with 810 yards and nine touchdowns. Along with Belz and Thor Maakestad, who finished with a team-high 13 touchdowns, the Green Devils’ receivers ranked among the best group in the state.

Weston Schmidt, senior linebacker, Rockford

The Warriors got a handful of extra games thanks to their deep playoff run, and that’s reflected in the statistics. Schmidt had an insane 126 tackles this season, and 100 of those were solo. He also had a pair of interceptions for a defense that keyed Rockford’s late-season surge.

Jacob Staudt, senior quarterback, Rockford

Staudt, a Co-Offensive Player of the Year in Class 8-Player District 2, also made the Class 8-Player All-State First Team. A true dual-threat quarterback, Staudt posted ridiculous numbers nearly every week, finishing the season with 1,351 yards and 19 touchdowns through the air and 11 interceptions. On the ground, he had 2,048 yards and 29 touchdowns, with a season-long rush of 74 yards.

Collin Kramer, senior defensive back, Saint Ansgar

Kramer, who also plays quarterback for the Saints, made the Class A All-State First Team because of his defense. He had 10 touchdown passes compared to three interceptions and also finished with 599 yards and 12 scores on the ground. Defensively, however, Kramer had 37 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery.

Jack Sievert, junior defensive lineman, Saint Ansgar

An All-State Second Team selection in Class A, Sievert joins Kramer after posting a solid season. He placed second on the team with 30 solo tackles, and he had three sacks. He was also the Saints’ leading rusher, totaling 865 yards on the ground and 16 touchdowns, averaging 5.6 yards per carry.

Caleb Eckels, senior kick returner, West Hancock

Eckels appeared on the Class A All-State Second Team after a spectacular season as a returner. He averaged 23.7 yards on his 13 punt returns, helping the Eagles gain advantageous field position throughout the season. His 57-yard return was the longest of the season, as he reached the end zone for his lone punt return touchdown. He also scored on a 69-yard kickoff return. On top of his return skills, he led the team with 76.5 tackles, 17 receptions, 240 receiving yards and five touchdowns through the air. As the stats show, Eckels was a versatile playmaker for West Hancock this season.

Tate Hagen, junior running back, West Hancock

West Hancock’s workhorse running back was a First-Team selection in Class A. Hagen toted the ball 270 times for 1,751 yards and 24 scores, averaging 6. 5 yards per carry. He was second on the team with 54.5 tackles, and he also tallied a sack. He and Eckels each had two interceptions on the season, as well.

Chandler Redenius, Junior offensive lineman, West Hancock

The Eagles had plenty of room to run the ball all season, and Redenius was a strong part of an impressive offensive line. West Hancock had a stable of ball-carriers capable of shouldering a heavy workload, but the offensive line in Britt shouldn’t go unnoticed, either. West Hancock rushed the ball 616 times in 2018, averaging seven yards per carry. In comparison, the Eagles attempted 55 passes. Opponents knew what the Eagles were going to do, but they still couldn’t stop the run.

Kyle Rooney, senior linebacker, West Fork

Rooney, a Class A Third-Team linebacker, led West Fork with 91 tackles, 49 of which were solo. He also gathered an interception and a fumble recovery, and he was useful on offense, as well. Rooney’s lone pass attempt was completed for a 51-yard touchdown. He found the end zone four times as a rusher, and he even hauled in 10 receptions during the season.

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Reach Sports Reporter Luke A. Garza at 641-421-0540 or follow him on Twitter @LukeAGarza

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