Mondovi at Stanley-Boyd football

Stanley-Boyd’s Carsen Hause reads the defense during a game against Mondovi on Sept. 17 in Stanley.

In addition to player of the year Simon Bauer, here are the rest of the players who made the 2021 Leader-Telegram All-Northwest football first and second teams.

First team

Offense

Quarterback

Quarterbacks usually aren’t required to throw the ball much in high school football. Stanley-Boyd’s program is an exception. The Orioles’ up-tempo offense thrives when the passing game is clicking, and Carsen Hause was exactly the conductor the team needed this fall.

The senior QB was one of the most accurate passers in the area this fall, completing 108 of 170 attempts for 1,600 yards and 20 touchdowns. Perhaps most importantly, he showcased the poise to avoid costly mistakes. Of his 170 passes, only four were intercepted.

“(He’s a) smart, accurate QB who is able to buy time and create big plays,” Mondovi coach Craig Loscheider said.

Hause contributed with his legs, too. He ran for 103 yards and three touchdowns. His numbers could have been higher if not for missing two games with an injury.

“(A) very accurate passer in a high-tempo offense,” Durand coach Rod Rosemeyer said.

Running back

There’s a new record-holder in the rushing department at Altoona. That distinction belongs to Colin Boyarski.

The junior back set a new Rails single-season record for rushing yards, powering forward for 1,594 yards this fall. He found the end zone 19 times and served as the catalyst for a much-improved Altoona offense.

“The craziest thing for Colin is he ran for 1,600 yards, set the school record for rushing this year, and he literally ran basically the same play,” Altoona coach Chad Hanson said. “A zone dive or triple-option, whichever version we ran, he runs the same path. He didn’t run any counters, kind of trick plays where he was carrying the ball. He didn’t run any sweeps out to the sideline. The offensive line did an amazing job blocking for him this year to have that A-back gain that many yards.”

When the line cleared holes for Boyarski, he was tough for defenses to bring down in the secondary.

Altoona at Osseo-Fairchild football

Altoona’s Colin Boyarski carries the ball during a game against Osseo-Fairchild on Aug. 27 in Osseo.

Andrew Trandahl only played in six games this fall before going down with a season-ending injury. But the New Richmond star did more in those six contests than most running backs did in a full season.

The junior speedster racked up 1,094 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns on 146 carries, opening up opposing defenses with killer speed. He averaged 7.5 yards per carry.

“Andrew is an extremely explosive running back that can score from anywhere,” Eau Claire Memorial coach Rob Scott said.

Trandahl was an honorable mention all-state selection by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association.

Wide receiver

Spring Valley didn’t throw the ball all that often this season. But when the Cardinals did take to the air, Tyler Bowman was always a home-run threat.

The senior made 45 catches for 751 yards and 11 touchdowns. He seemed to always find ways to get open in the secondary, and was a threat as a kick returner too.

“Great speed and hands,” Boyceville coach Michael Roemhild said. “Carried his team when their QB and wing were out with injuries.”

Bowman helped the Cardinals win a Dunn-St. Croix Conference title. In addition to his exploits in the passing game, he was noted for his ability to set the edge as a run blocker.

“Unbelievable athlete,” Elmwood/Plum City coach Mike Birtzer said.

Bloomer had a pair of sure hands from Connor Crane. The 6-foot-4 senior was always a threat in the passing game.

Crane hauled in 671 yards and five touchdowns through the air in eight games for the Blackhawks. He surpassed 100 yards receiving in each of the final four games of the season.

“Great hands with the ability to get open with great routes,” Bloomer coach John Post said.

Crane ended the year with his best performance: a 13-catch showing against Spooner for 130 yards.

There was perhaps no better receiver in the area than Brady Potaczek this season. The Stanley-Boyd senior was as good of a weapon as the Orioles’ fast-paced offense had.

Potaczek made 50 catches for 933 yards and 12 touchdowns this year. Defenses had to pay special attention to wherever he was on the flank, because he could break off a huge gain at any moment.

“Very dynamic playmaker,” said Jeff Koenig, his coach. “Big-play potential.”

Potaczek was an all-state selection by the WFCA. He also excelled as a linebacker.

Line

Regis dominated with its ground game this season, riding it to a Cloverbelt Conference title and a berth in the Division 7 state semifinals. Hank Axelrod anchored that unit. The senior was an all-region pick by the WFCA.

“He was a great leader for our team and our best offensive lineman,” Ramblers coach Bryant Brenner said.

Regis vs. Coleman football

Regis' Hank Axelrod blocks Coleman's Sawyer Seefeldt during a Level 4 playoff football game on Nov. 12 in Schofield.

Mitchell Fedie was tough to get past this fall. The Mondovi senior was an honorable mention all-state lineman after leading a strong Buffaloes rushing attack.

“Only offensive line kid I know who is noticeably the best to anyone watching,” Mondovi coach Craig Loscheider said.

Mason Goettl arguably had the best season of any linemen in the area this fall. The 6-foot-9 senior from Chippewa Falls was a first team all-state pick for the WFCA.

Menomonie had a punishing rushing attack this fall, and Max Hildebrandt was often the one leading the way. The senior was an honorable mention all-state lineman.

“Max was our strong-side tackle and that is an incredibly important position for our offense,” Menomonie coach Mike Sinz said. “Max was an excellent run blocker and had great feet.”

At 6-foot-6, 335 pounds, Hank Wettleson was an imposing figure with his size alone. But factor in the Hudson senior’s agility, and you get one of the top linemen in the area. He was an honorable mention all-state pick.

“Has great feet and quickness for his size,” Hudson coach Adam Kowles said. “A smart player who can overpower defensive linemen by coming off the ball and has the ability to get to the second or third level to make blocks as well.”

Kicker

Michael Karlen is a repeat selection on the All-Northwest first team, following up last year’s spot with another. The Stanley-Boyd senior continued to shine in the kicking game, including setting a new program record with a 52-yard field goal against Regis this season. Overall, he made four field goals and was 21 of 23 on extra-point attempts.

Karlen was named an all-state kicker for the second year in a row by the WFCA. He has received recruiting interest from the Division I FCS level.

“Never came off the field for us,” Koenig, his coach, said. “Great offensive and defensive player as well.”

Defense

Line

After earning first team All-Northwest honors as a junior, Chippewa Falls’ Owen Krista followed it up with another dominant season on the defensive line.

A constant threat to get into the backfield, Krista was one of the Big Rivers’ top sack artists with 4.5 takedowns. He made 89 tackles and forced a pair of fumbles to earn WFCA all-region distinction.

“(Krista) was all over the field,” Memorial’s Scott said, “has a great motor and will to get to the football.”

There’s a reason Will McDonald is drawing looks from some of college football’s standout programs. The Hudson junior is fearsome to go up against on the defensive line.

The all-state honorable mention had 40 tackles and two sacks, and has recruiting interest from the likes of Wisconsin and North Dakota State, among others.

“So difficult to block in one-on-one situations or even two-on-one situations,” his coach, Kowles, said. “He has the ability and technique to fight through blocks to get to the ball carrier or the quarterback on any play.”

Jacob Nesterick is back on the All-Northwest first team for the second season in a row after terrorizing Cloverbelt Conference offensive lines all fall. The senior was the conference’s defensive player of the year after wrapping up 10 sacks and 26 tackles for a loss.

Even if an opponent specifically game planned to stop Nesterick, it usually didn’t slow him down much.

“Teams schemed to stop him and he caused problems for every team,” Koenig said.

Zander Rockow is one of the top college prospects in the entire state, and the Regis junior is compiling a pedigree to match. He was a WFCA all-state selection on the defensive line, causing consistent problems with his imposing frame and overall athleticism. Rockow had 52 tackles and six sacks. He was at his best when the spotlight was on. He wrapped up three sacks and made 10 tackles against Coleman in the Division 7 state semifinals.

“He is as good of a player as there is in the area,” his coach, Brenner, said. “Big, strong and fast. Teams ran away from him all season.”

Several big names in college football want to secure his commitment, including Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and others. This is his second consecutive season on the All-Northwest first team.

Linebacker

The bar is high for linebackers at Menomonie these days, with the program regularly producing all-state players at the position. Gavin Exner carried the torch well in his own right.

The senior patrolled the middle of the field for the Mustangs defense. He made 84 tackles and two sacks, forced three fumbles and had an interception. He contributed in each phase of the defense and earned all-region recognition from the WFCA.

“Gavin was a great leader at the middle linebacker position for us,” his coach, Sinz, said. “He was an outstanding communicator and was a force in the middle.”

Monona Grove at Menomonie football

Menomonie linebacker Gavin Exner gets a call from the sideline against Monona Grove on Oct. 22 in Menomonie.

Cadott’s Gavin Tegels draws eye-opening comparisons for his play at the linebacker spot. Being linked to one of the top linebackers in all of college football is certainly high praise.

“The second-best LB I have coached against,” Elmwood/Plum City’s Birtzer said. “First was Leo Chenal.”

Chenal currently stars for the Wisconsin Badgers’ vaunted defense. He was a wrecker for Grantsburg in his high school days, and Tegels followed a similar path for the Hornets. He was the Dunn-St. Croix’s defensive player of the year and earned honorable mention all-state status after recording 126 tackles this season.

“(A) physical, playmaking LB that was the best defensive player in our conference,” Spring Valley coach Ryan Kapping said.

Evan Tyler had to be accounted for at all times. If not, the Hudson senior would make you pay.

Tyler earned Big Rivers defensive player of the year honors after making 40 tackles, including six for a loss, and four sacks. He also recovered a fumble for a touchdown. He’s committed to play collegiately at the Division I FCS level with St. Thomas.

“He’s one of those players who is always around the ball and makes tackles no matter where the play is on the field,” Kowles, his coach, said. “Tremendous competitor and great team leader who makes everyone around him better.”

Isaac Runstrom earned honorable mention all-state status after anchoring Cumberland’s linebacking corps. The senior had an impressive 14 sacks, which was tied for fourth-most in the state. Overall, he made 111 tackles and 17 for a loss. He also forced two fumbles and recovered four.

“He is the best inside linebacker I have coached,” Cumberland’s Corey Berghammer said.

Runstrom will play Division II college football at Minnesota State University-Moorhead.

Defensive back

Alex Belongia received consideration for All-Northwest player of the year honors after starring on both sides of the ball for Rice Lake. The senior was one of the state’s top receivers and defensive backs, earning all-state distinction at both positions. He was a key piece in the Warriors’ run to the Division 3 state championship game.

Offensively, Belongia caught 12 touchdown passes. He was a first team All-Northwest selection as a receiver last season, but he earns the nod on defense this time around. He was a lockdown defensive back for the Warriors, nabbing eight interceptions — tied for the state lead — and forcing two fumbles over the course of the year.

He was named the winner of the Jim Leonhard Award by WisSports.net. The honor goes to the state’s top senior defensive back.

“Excellent football player that needs to be accounted for on both sides of the ball,” Memorial’s Scott said. “Whether we were on offense or defense, we needed to know where Alex was and allocate a plan accordingly.”

Rice Lake football vs. Chippewa Falls 9-24-21

Rice Lake’s Alex Belongia celebrates after a victory over Chippewa Falls on Sept. 24 in Rice Lake.

Gavin Jarchow earned honorable mention all-state recognition for his work patrolling Cumberland’s secondary. The senior had four forced fumbles and made 74 tackles. Despite being a defensive back, he was in the backfield often. He made 14 tackles for a loss and compiled seven sacks.

“One of the biggest reasons for our success the past two years,” Berghammer said.

Kennan Stowers was a WFCA all-region defensive back for New Richmond. He patrolled the secondary to ensure the Tigers wouldn’t get beaten over the top in a Big Rivers Conference that featured teams that weren’t afraid to open the bag of tricks.

Stowers will play college football for Division II program Minnesota State University Moorhead.

Punter

When he wasn’t playing quarterback, Brayden Warwick often flipped the field with his leg for Chippewa Falls. The senior was a first team All-Big Rivers selection as a punter.

Second team

Offense

Spring Valley quarterback Connor Ducklow earned Dunn-St. Croix offensive player of the year honors after throwing for 1,113 yards and 11 touchdowns. He added eight scores with his legs too.

Trevor Asher was the Dunn-St. Croix’s second-leading rusher with 1,068 yards and 10 touchdowns. The Elmwood/Plum City back also caught two scores. He’s joined on the second team by Rice Lake’s Christian Lindow and Mondovi’s Dawson Rud. Lindow was the Warriors’ leading rusher on their way to a share of the Big Rivers title and the Division 3 state championship game. He tallied 861 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Rud had 1,584 yards and 21 touchdowns to earn first team All-Cloverbelt honors.

Fall Creek’s Leo Hagberg, McDonell’s Dale Tetrault and Menomonie’s Noah Feddersen are the second-team receivers. Hagberg was a first team All-Cloverbelt pick after bringing in 621 yards and nine touchdowns on 40 catches. Tetrault caught 47 passes for 630 yards and nine scores. Feddersen used his 6-foot-9 frame well, compiling several touchdown receptions as a tight end.

Five different schools are represented in the trenches on the second team. Altoona’s Craig Ervin, Augusta’s Hunter Kirchoff, Chippewa Falls’ Bryant Petska, Eau Claire North’s Trey Steele and Durand’s Ethan Whitwam all earned that distinction.

Hudson sophomore Jack Strong is the kicker for the second team.

Defense

A pair of Boyceville Bulldogs are featured on the second team’s defensive line: Tyler Dormanen and John Klefstad. They’re joined by Rice Lake’s Parker Owens. All three were all-conference honorees.

Three all-region players highlight the linebacking group: Durand’s Ethan Anibas, Menomonie’s Brooks Brewer and Chippewa Falls’ Elijah Hable. First team All-Cloverbelt selection Casey Erickson, of Regis, is also featured.

First team All-Big Rivers pick Dawson Goodman of Chippewa Falls and all-region honorees Lucas Smith (Stanley-Boyd) and Luke Webb (Elmwood/Plum City) compose the secondary.

Glenwood City’s Marcis DeSmith is the second-team punter.