There is still plenty of football for fans to watch, with the NFL playoffs and the college bowl season both just around the corner.
High school season, however, has come to a close in North Iowa. With it go the Friday night lights and the wild demonstrations of school spirit. The chilly nights have driven fans indoors for winter sports, but there are memories from this fall that players and parents will never forget.
This year, several teams made deep postseason runs, with only one going all the way. The West Hancock Eagles went 13-0 and won the Class A state title, the third championship in program history. Other teams such as Algona and St. Ansgar, fell just short of their title hopes.
The following list is the Globe Gazette’s All North-Iowa football team. Many players had great seasons and didn’t make the list, while several more had late-season performances that made them a no-brainer to include. Along with the best players, we have chosen a coach, team, and game of the year.
Jaylen DeVries, Senior, Clear Lake
- With a 58.2 percent completion rating, 2358 yards, and 29 touchdowns on the season, DeVries cemented his status as the area’s most dominant signal-caller. DeVries threw for the 16th-most yards in the state and averaged 14.8 yards per completion. The senior also proved to be dangerous as a runner, rushing for 519 yards and eight touchdowns.
DeVries was named the Class 2A, District 3 First Team quarterback, and was selected to the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association (IPSWA) Class 2A All-State First Team Offense.
Collin Muller, junior, Osage
- The area’s second leading passer helped the Green Devils’ bounce-back from a horrendous 0-4 start to the season, to a playoff berth. Muller passed for 2123 yards with a 53.2 percent completion percentage, and 16 yards per completion. He passed for 24 touchdowns on the season, with 10 interceptions.
Tate Hagen, Senior, West Hancock
- Hagen’s spectacular year was the spark behind the Eagles’ championship run. Hagen rushed for a state-best 2,352 yards on the season, with 32 touchdowns and 8.2 yards per carry. He was also the Eagles’ second-leading tackler on defense, with 63. In the postseason, Hagen brought his game to another level, rushing for 244 yards with two touchdowns in the semifinals, and then 230 yards and three touchdowns in the finals against Grundy Center. Hagen was named to the IPSWA Class A First Team Offense, and was selected as a Class A State Captain.
Jack Sievert, Senior, St. Ansgar
- Sievert, the program’s all-time leading rusher, had a spectacular season, rushing for 2095 yards and a state-best 39 touchdowns. In the Saints’ game on Oct. 18 against Newman Catholic, Sievert broke the program’s all-time rushing touchdowns mark with his 51st, and scored 10 more touchdowns on the season. Sievert performed well in the Saints’ state semifinal loss to Grundy Center, rushing for 176 yards and three touchdowns.
On defense, Sievert finished with 44.5 tackles and six sacks, and was named to the IPSWA Class A First Team Defense.
Wyatt Wegener, Senior, Algona
- Wegener proved this season that Division I colleges are right to keep an eye on him. Wegener was the Bulldogs’ leading receiver and rusher, catching 35 passes for 708 yards, and rushing for 1,422 yards and 24 touchdowns on the season. Wegener was also Algona’s second-leading tackler, with 42.5. An all-around threat, Wegener was a main cog in Algona’s undefeated regular season, and march to the state semifinals. Wegener was named to the IPSWA Class 2A First Team offense, and was selected as an Class 2A All-State captain.
Kody Kearns, Senior, Clear Lake
- Kearns was the leading receiver in run-heavy North Iowa, catching 46 passes for 941 yards on the year, with a yards per catch average of 20.5, and 13 touchdowns. Kearns was named a Class 2A, District 3 First Team player, and was selected to the IPSWA Class 2A First Team offense.
Nick Danielson, Senior, Clear Lake
- Battling through injuries and family tragedy, Danielson put up a solid season for the Lions. He caught 45 receptions for 666 yards and nine touchdowns. In the Lions’ opening-round playoff game against Spirit Lake, Danielson returned from a stress fracture in his foot, and caught four receptions for 92 yards and a touchdown. Danielson was also named to the Class 2A, District 3 First Team, and the IPSWA Class 2A Second-Team offense.
Ryan Cole, Junior, St. Ansgar
- Cole was possibly the best secondary rushing option in the state. Behind Sievert, Cole had a fantastic year of his own. Cole rushed for 1,143 yards on the season, with 20 touchdowns and a 9.9 yards per carry average. On defense, Cole had 45 tackles, and four interceptions, and was selected to the IPSWA Class A First Team defense.
Josef Smith, Senior, West Hancock
- Smith worked as the Eagles’ second option in the rushing game, and put up spectacular numbers. Smith rushed for 1270 yards on 146 carries with 17 touchdowns, with a yards per carry average of 8.7. Smith was also the Eagles’ leading receiver, finishing with 11 receptions for 202 yards and five receiving touchdowns. In the Eagles’ two games at the UNI-Dome, Smith rushed for 90 and 113 yards in the state semifinals and finals.
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Smith was selected as a kick returner to the IPSWA Class A First Team defense.
Cole Kelly, Junior, West Hancock
- The Eagles’ junior put up numbers worthy of a lead back this season, rushing for 1184 yards on 124 carries with 18 touchdowns, for an average of 9.5 yards per carry. Kelly rushed for 86 yards in the Eagles’ semifinal win over Woodbury Central, and was named to the IPSWA Class A Third Team offense.
Thor Maakestad, Senior, Osage
- The Green Devils’ senior battled back from a scary injury late in the season to have a spectacular game against Lake Mills. On Oct. 18, Maakestad caught nine receptions for 204 yards and five touchdowns in Osage’s 52-13 blowout of the Bulldogs. Maakestad finished the year as the area’s second-leading receiver, with 717 receiving yards on 35 catches, and 11 touchdowns.
Spencer Mooberry, Junior, Osage
- The junior receiver finished the year with 35 receptions for 630 yards, for an average of 17.5 yards per catch. Mooberry caught six touchdown passes this season, the longest a 95-yarder. He was named to the IPSWA Class 1A Third Team offense.
Caden Schrage, Senior, Northwood-Kensett
- The Vikings senior finished the season 11 interceptions, second-most in the state. For much of the season, he was on pace to tie or break the Iowa state eight-man record of 14, but fell short as he went without an interception in the season’s final three games. But for the early part of the year, Schrage was on a dominant pace, picking off at least two passes in four straight games. In addition to his work on defense, Schrage also served as the team’s quarterback and lead rusher, running for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns. Schrage was named to the IPSWA Eight-man First Team Defense.
Jaace Weidemann, Senior, Belmond-Klemme
- Weidemann spent part of the season as the area’s leading rusher, and finished the year with 1,656 yards on the ground, and 19 touchdowns. Weidemann was the main offensive cog in the Broncos’ 6-3 season.
West Hancock offensive line
- The West Hancock offensive line led the way for the Eagles to have the leading rushing attack in the state, and the top offense in the state by 346 yards. The Eagles become the first team to have three rushers break 1000 yards on the ground, as Hagen, Josef Smith, and Cole Kelly all surpassed the milestone. Chandler Redenius was named to the IPSWA Class A First Team offense, while Tristan Hunt was named to the Second Team.
St. Ansgar offensive line
- The Saints’ big guys in the trenches opened up some big holes for Sievert and Cole this season, who ran for 4592 yards, second-most in the state. The Saints also led the state in rushing touchdowns with 79. The stalwart rushing attack powered the Saints to an undefeated regular season and a UNI-Dome berth. Alex Hansen was selected to the IPSWA Class A First Team offense.
Clear Lake defense
- The Lions defensive unit held its opponents to just 21 total points in the final five weeks of the regular season, including a three-week stretch against Hampton-Dumont-CAL, Crestwood, and Forest City where the Lions allowed zero points. Ty Fisher led the unit in tackles, with 70, while Austin Larson led the way with five sacks. Jagger Schmitt and Jack Barragy were both named to the IPSWA Class 2A First Team defense, while Austin Larson was named to the Third Team.
Coach of the Year: Mark Sanger, West Hancock
-In West Hancock’s first season since 1967 without head coach Bob Sanger on the sideline, his son, assistant coach Mark Sanger, took over coaching duties and led the team to a perfect 13-0 record and a Class A state title.
Team of the Year: West Hancock
Best Postseason Win: West Hancock 21, Grundy Center 17
- The Eagles’ tense four-point win in the state championship game brought the program its third state title, and first since 1996. With Tate Hagen’s 12-yard run with just over a minute left, the Eagles could finally breath a sigh of relief.
Best Regular Season Win: Mason City 28, Ottumwa 17
- After 742 days and over two seasons since its most recent win, the Mason City football team ended its season on a high note. In head coach Brandon Krusey’s first season, the Mohawks had gone 0-8 heading into their final game of the season against Ottumwa.
Behind 237 passing yards and one passing touchdown from sophomore James Jennings, two touchdowns from their running backs, and an interception return TD from junior Alex Kinney, the Mohawks finally had a victory.