With West Hancock raising the Class A state title trophy last week, North Iowa's high school football season has officially come to an end.
This week, the Globe Gazette will be presenting its seasonal awards, starting with the area football most valuable players.
As all of these lists do, the choices are sure to spark debate. For this list, one player at each offensive position was chosen, along with an outstanding overall defense, as well as an outstanding offensive and defensive player.
Note: No kicker was chosen, mainly because North Iowa football teams simply don't seem to like kicking field goals very much. Later in the week, the Globe will be running its annual All-Area Football selections.
Jaylen DeVries, Clear Lake
No player at the signal-caller position had a more dominant season than the Lions' senior. The Southern Illinois bound DeVries threw for 2,358 yards this year, with 29 touchdowns. He threw for a 58.2 completion percentage with just seven picks, three of them coming in the Lions' season-ending loss to Williamsburg in the state quarterfinals. DeVries had three games this season where he threw for over 290 yards, and three more in which he threw at least four touchdowns.
Tate Hagen, West Hancock
As the lead back on the area's lone state championship squad, Hagen gets the nod here. In his final game, Hagen ran for 230 yards and three touchdowns. Hagen finished with a state-best 2,352 yards on the season, along with 32 touchdowns, second among area players, behind only St. Ansgar's Jack Sievert.
Hagen averaged 181 rushing yards per game, and never finished a game with less than 100 yards on the ground. He had four games with at least 200 yards, and averaged 2.4 touchdowns per contest.
Kody Kearns, Clear Lake
In run-heavy North Iowa football, it can be difficult for a wide receiver to compile enough numbers to stand out. This season though, with Jaylen DeVries feeding him the ball, Clear Lake senior Kody Kearns put up some impressive numbers, averaging 20.5 yards per catch. Kearns had 941 yards through the air this season, tops among area players, along with 12 receiving touchdowns, tied for ninth-most in the state.
Kearns' 46 receptions led the Lions, just one catch ahead of senior Nick Danielson.
Class A state champion West Hancock finished the season with the top rushing attack in the state. While plenty of credit goes the Eagles' three-headed monster of a running back stable, the backs and the coaching staff heaps plenty of praise on the big guys up front.
With tight end Tanner Hagen, left tackle Chandler Redenius, left guard Tristan Hunt, center Josh Stromer, right guard Tanner Thompson, right tackle Brody Cox, and split ends Cole Wood and Matthew Francis opening up space, the Eagles' backs rushed for a combined 5,312 yards, 720 yards ahead of second-place St. Ansgar.
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The Eagles also finished ninth in the state with 8.1 yards per carry.
Outstanding Offensive Player
Wyatt Wegener, Algona
Wegener was a dominant threat all over the field. He finished with a team-high 1,422 rushing yards and 708 receiving yards, with 24 touchdowns on the ground and six through the air. He also led the team with 157 kick return yards and 136 punt return yards. Wegener was second on the team in tackles with 42.5, proving that there is no spot on the field where he could be overmatched
With Division I colleges like Iowa showing interest, expect to see Wegener playing in front of a big Saturday crowd very soon.
The Lions are known for their great offense, but the defense is what catapulted them onto the list of Iowa's elite teams in 2019. Clear Lake shut out three straight opponents mid-season, collecting 14 total sacks in that time. Over the final five weeks of the regular season, the Lions allowed just 21 total points. As a unit, Clear Lake's defense finished tops in the area, and sixth in the state, with 612.5 total tackles.
Outstanding Defensive Player
Caden Schrage, Northwood-Kensett
The senior safety led the state in interceptions for most of the season, but wound up finishing second with 11, just one behind Tyler Olsen of Webster City. Schrage picked off at least two passes in four separate games. At just 5-foot-6 inches, Schrage doesn't look like an intimidating defender, but he proved to be a dominant force for the Vikings this season. His 11 picks are just three shy of Iowa's single-season eight-man record.
Outstanding Kick Returner
Tate Hagen, West Hancock
On top of his outstanding performance as the Eagles' lead back, Hagen also had a big impact on the team's kick return game. Hagen didn't get a ton of chances to return kicks, simply because West Hancock didn't allow many points. When he did, he came up big.
The senior finished with 504 kick return yards on 14 attempts, and his 36 yards per return average was second among players with at least 14 attempts. He also had two kick-return touchdowns, his longest a 79-yarder.
Outstanding Punt Returner
Ryan Cole, St. Ansgar
Cole finished tops among area punt returners in yards, with 171 on the season. In those seven tries he averaged 24.4 yards per return, and also scored two touchdowns, including a 66-yard score. In addition to his punt return prowess, Cole finished second on the Saints in rushing with 1,143 yards.