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Matt Heinrichs

Matt Heinrichs has been the Sports Editor of the Dickinson County News since January 2014. Since joining the DCN, he has won more Iowa Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest awards than any journalist in the state, with 50 awards in more than a dozen categories. Matt is an avid outdoorsman. He enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, cycling and kayaking. He also enjoys spending time with his family and his better half, Tessa. Be sure to follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (@mattheinrix).

Wolves are favorites to win new district

Tuesday, August 17, 2021
Harris-Lake Park quarterback Tyce Gunderson will look to lead the Wolves to a district championship and a deep playoff run in 2021. Gunderson was a Third-Team All-State selection following his sophomore season.
(File photo)

The Harris-Lake Park football team will say good riddance to Eight-Player perennial powers Newell-Fonda and Remsen St. Mary’s and look forward to a new cast of district foes in 2021.

While there are some familiar faces in District 2 — including Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire, North Iowa, Northwood-Kensett and West Bend-Mallard — it will be interesting to see how the Wolves stack up with teams like Bishop Garrigan and Fort Dodge St. Edmond, who are moving down from Class A.

Still, the Wolves appear to be the favorites — on paper — to win the district title and make a playoff run.


Harris-Lake Park (6-3)

KEY DEPARTURES: Lucas Gunderson, Brody Sohn, Dylan Meyer, Jaxson Heikens

KEY RETURNERS: Tyce Gunderson, Tate Gilmore, Tyler Jurva, Gavin Elser

The Wolves enter the 2021 football season with the best record and, arguably, the best player in the district back from 2020. Harris-Lake Park went 6-3 a year ago under first-year quarterback Tyce Gunderson.

The then-sophomore signal caller totaled 1,341 all-purpose yards and 31 touchdowns after taking over for injured starter Brody Sohn in Week 3. Gunderson led the Wolves to six straight wins — including a pair of postseason victories over River Valley and Coon-Rapids Bayard — en route to collecting Third Team All-State honors from the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association.

Harris-Lake Park’s lone regular season losses came to Newell-Fonda and Remsen St. Mary’s in the first two weeks of the season. The Wolves dropped a second game to the eventual state champion Hawks in the playoffs, ending their season on Oct. 30.

It was a solid season for Harris-Lake Park, and the Wolves look primed for another playoff run in 2021 despite losing several talented players to graduation.

Offensively, the Wolves will miss workhorse back Lucas Gunderson (162 touches, 1,089 yards, 14 touchdowns) and receivers Brody Sohn (22 catches, 262 yards, 9 touchdowns) and Dylan Meyer (16 catches, 318 yards, 4 touchdowns), but there are some key contributors back to help Gunderson shoulder the load in his junior season.

Senior Tate Gilmore is back after leading the Wolves in receptions (28) and receiving yards (353) and finishing second in touchdowns (8) in his junior season. Seniors Gavin Elser and Braydan Perkins, and sophomore Caleb Hemphill, should see their production increase as well.

Defensively, the Wolves return six of their top eight tacklers from 2020 in Tyce Gunderson (57), Gavin Elser (42), Tyler Jurva (37.5), Tate Gilmore (30), Braydan Perkins (29.5) and Austin Gilmore (28.5).

Jurva should be a force along the defensive front after finishing 2020 with 11 tackles for loss and four sacks. Perkins had six tackles for loss and two sacks. Austin Gilmore had four tackles for loss and two sacks.

Gunderson had four interceptions and Tate Gilmore had two picks for the Wolves.

Elser is also a kicking threat for the Wolves. He put 24 of 51 kickoffs in the end zone for touchbacks and made 21 of 27 point after attempts last season.


North Iowa (5-3)

KEY DEPARTURES: Max Schaefer, Tyler Murray, Jacob Hoffman, Kade Hobbs

KEY RETURNERS: Brett Doege, Riley Sabin, Logan Sabin, Noah Hoffman

The Bison return a bulk of their players in 2021, including starting quarterback Brett Doege, after going 5-3 a year ago.

Doege was solid in his junior season, completing 73 of 142 passes for 884 yards, 12 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He’ll also have all three of his top targets back from 2020 in seniors Logan Sabin (25 catches, 200 yards, 1 TD) and Caiden Fleener (15 catches, 222 yards, 4 TDs) and junior Noah Hofmann (18 catches, 302 yards, 6 TDs).

However, the Bison will desperately miss the output of running backs Max Schaefer and Tyler Murray, who combined for 188 carries, 1,211 yards and 16 touchdowns a year ago.

Defensively, North Iowa will be without top tacklers Tyler Murray (73.5) and Jacob Hoffman (52), but return four of their top eight in Riley Sabin (44), Noah Hofmann (39), Caiden Fleener (31.5) and Logan Sabin (30).

Riley Sabin had 15.5 tackles for loss and two sacks a year ago.

Jacob Hoffman had three interceptions and Logan Sabin had two.


St. Edmond (5-3)

KEY DEPARTURES: Parker Oswald, Brock Stanek, Drew Schaeffer, Kase Baker

KEY RETURNERS: Tyler Rossmanith, Quinten McCarville, Cayne Reed, Caleb Schaeffer

No team in the district felt the sting of graduation as much as Fort Dodge St. Edmond. The Gaels went 5-3 in Class A one year ago, but lost a pair of all-state players and the bulk of their roster to graduation.

Parker Oswald was a Class A Second Team All-State selection at receiver, after finishing the year with 37 catches for 815 yards and seven touchdowns. Brock Stanek was a Third Team All-State selection on the offensive line.

The Gaels also lost senior signal caller Drew Schaeffer, who completed 78 of 145 passes for 1,816 yards, 18 touchdowns and just three interceptions in 2020, and two of their top rushers in Sean Flattery (61 carries, 389 yards, 6 touchdowns) and Kase Baker (73 carries, 486 yards, 6 touchdowns). They’ll also miss deep threat receiver Anthony Lacina, who caught 10 passes for 422 yards and five touchdowns.

The Gaels should lean heavily on returning running back and senior Tyler Rossmanith. As a junior, Rossmanith led the Gaels in carries (103), yards (572) and touchdowns (6). Quinten McCarville should also factor in as a receiver in his senior season. McCarville had 13 catches for 167 yards and a score last season.

Defensively, the Gaels return top tackler Rossmanith (58.5), as well as Cayne Reed (30.5), but those two together (88.5) had more stops than the rest of the returners combined (61).


Northwood-Kensett (4-4)

KEY DEPARTURES: Kael Julseth, Brandon Varner, Carter Severson, TJ Whitelow

KEY RETURNERS: Tyler Mills, Josiah Kliment, Drew Wilder, Logan Mayberry

Much like St. Edmond, Northwood-Kensett will have several holes to fill if the Vikings hope to match or exceed their 4-4 finish from a year ago.

Do-everything quarterback Kael Julseth is gone after completing 24 of 52 passes for 624 yards and six touchdowns and rushing for 549 yards and 13 touchdowns on 100 carries. The Vikings will also miss the production of senior backs Brandon Varner and Carter Severson, who combined for 184 carries, 1,197 yards and 25 touchdowns, and senior receiver TJ Whitelow, who had 14 catches for 351 yards and four touchdowns.

Tyler Mills is the most productive player back on both sides of the ball. As a junior, Mills had 30 carries for 144 yards and four touchdowns. He also led the Vikings with 66.5 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.

Seniors Josiah Kliment (32.5) and Drew Wilder (32) were two of the Vikings’ top five tacklers a year ago.

Senior kicker Logan Mayberry kicked 34 of 52 kickoffs for touchbacks, hit 21 of 29 point after attempts, and hit a 37-yard field goal last season.


Bishop Garrigan (2-6)

KEY DEPARTURES: Kellen Murphy, Derrick Kirsch, Angelo Winkel, Joey Trainer

KEY RETURNERS: Garrett Heying, Cal Birkey, Nate Bronk

In 2020, the Golden Bears featured a team of mostly seniors and a few underclassmen. They will need last year’s sophomores to take a big leap forward in this their junior season if they hope to add to their two total wins from a year ago.

Gone is Kellen Murphy, the most productive member of last year’s squad, after rushing for 788 yards and nine touchdowns on 134 carries, and completing 17 of 39 passes for 291 yards, six touchdowns and one interception.

So is top receiver Angelo Winkel, who had 16 catches for 276 yards and four touchdowns, and running back Derrick Kirsch, who ran for 531 yards and two touchdowns on 107 carries.

Junior Garrett Heying figures to play a key role for Bishop Garrigan this season. As a sophomore, Heying completed 22 of 64 passes for 228 yards, no touchdowns and five interceptions at quarterback. He also had 45 carries for 54 yards.

Fellow junior Cal Birkey should also be a factor. He rushed for 80 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries last season.

Nate Bronk, also a junior, rushed for 59 yards on 13 carries.

Heying and Birkey finished third and fourth on the team in tackles last season. Heying had 27 stops while Birkey had 24.5.


Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire (1-6)

KEY DEPARTURES: Brock Grimm, Lucas Rouse

KEY RETURNERS: Cormick Currans, Max Hough, Drew Schnell, Andrew Kral

A young Titans team struggled to just one win in 2020, but Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire should be a team on the rise in 2021.

The most productive member of last year’s team, Cormick Currans, is back for his senior season. Currans rushed for 384 yards and a touchdown on 125 carries, and caught 18 passes for 178 yards and two more scores last season.

Junior Max Hough completed 28 of 63 passes for 230 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, and rushed for 391 yards and four touchdowns on 74 carries as a sophomore.

Fellow junior Drew Schnell completed 17 of 35 passes for 150 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions, rushed for 125 yards and two touchdowns on 40 carries, and caught six passes for 55 yards as a sophomore.

Senior Nolan Darr caught 17 passes for 118 yards as a junior.

The Titans will miss seniors Brock Grimm and Lucas Rouse, who combined for 80.5 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks last season.

Schnell had 46.5 tackles. Currans had 37.5 stops. Andrew Kral had 33.5 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and a sack. Blake Rosacker had 28 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and a sack.

Currans and Schnell had three interceptions each. Hough had one pick.


West Bend-Mallard (1-7)

KEY DEPARTURES: Creytan Grimm, Jared Schmidt, Levi Mogler, Donavon Hanson

KEY RETURNERS: Max Fehr, Aaron Massner, Sam Fehr, Ethan Zaugg

Like most teams in District 2, the Wolverines have plenty of holes to fill from a team that did not fair well a year ago.

West Bend-Mallard lost two of its most productive offensive players in Creytan Grimm and Jared Schmidt.

Grimm rushed for 432 yards and six touchdowns on 93 carries and caught 15 passes for 98 yards and another score. Schmidt ran for 250 yards and a touchdown on 89 carries and caught nine passes for 92 yards.

Max Fehr is back under center for his junior season. As a sophomore, Fehr completed 42 of 107 passes for 417 yards, two touchdowns and nine interceptions.

Collin Montag and Sam Fehr are his top returning targets. They combined for 9 catches, 89 yards and one touchdown last year.

Defensively, the Wolverines will be without their top four tacklers from 2020 in Grimm, Schmidt, Levi Mogler and Donavon Hanson.

Senior Aaron Massner had 36 tackles and six tackles for loss last year. Junior Sam Fehr had 27 stops, three tackles for loss and a sack. Junior Ben Massner had 19 tackles, four tackles for loss and a sack. Junior Ethan Zaugg had 19 tackles, seven tackles for loss and a sack.


EIGHT-PLAYER DISTRICT 2 LEADERS

Touchdowns

1. Tyce Gunderson (HLP) — 31

2. Brett Doege (NI) — 12

3. Tate Gilmore (HLP) — 9

4. Noah Hofmann (NI) — 7

4. Tyler Rossmanith (STE) — 7

Passing TDs

1. Tyce Gunderson (HLP) — 25

2. Max Fehr (WBM) — 2

3. Max Hough (GTRA) — 1

3. Drew Schnell (GTRA) — 1

Rushing TDs

1. Tyce Gunderson (HLP) — 6

1. Tyler Rossmanith (STE) — 6

3. Riley Sabin (NI) — 5

4. Max Hough (GTRA) — 4

4. Tyler Mills (NK) — 4

Receiving TDs

1. Tate Gilmore (HLP) — 8

2. Noah Hofmann (NI) — 6

3. Caiden Fleener (NI) — 4

4. Cormick Currans (GTRA) — 2

All Purpose Yards

1. Tyce Gunderson (HLP) — 1,341

2. Brett Doege (NI) — 878

3. Max Hough (GTRA) — 743

4. Cormick Currans (GTRA) — 707

5. Tyler Rossmanith (STE) — 610

Passing Yards

1. Tyce Gunderson (HLP) — 980

2. Brett Doege (NI) — 884

3. Max Fehr (WBM) — 417

4. Max Hough (GTRA) — 230

5. Garrett Heying (BG) — 228

Rushing Yards

1. Tyler Rossmanith (STE) — 572

2. Max Hough (GTRA) — 391

3. Cormick Currans (GTRA) — 384

4. Tyce Gunderson (HLP) — 316

5. Riley Sabin (NI) — 242

Receiving Yards

1. Tate Gilmore (HLP) — 353

2. Noah Hofmann (NI) — 302

3. Caiden Fleener (NI) — 222

4. Logan Sabin (NI) — 200

5. Cormick Currans (GTRA) — 178

Total Tackles

1. Tyler Mills (NK) — 66.5

2. Tyler Rossmanith (STE) — 58.5

3. Tyce Gunderson (HLP) — 57

4. Drew Schnell (GTRA) — 46.5

5. Riley Sabin (NI) — 44

Total Sacks

1. Tyler Mills (NK) — 4.5

2. Tyler Jurva (HLP) — 4

3. Kaden McCoy (GTRA) — 2.5

4. Austin Gilmore (HLP) — 2

4. Riley Sabin (NI) — 2

Interceptions

1. Tyce Gunderson (HLP) — 4

2. Cormick Currans (GTRA) — 3

2. Drew Schnell (GTRA) — 3

4. Tate Gilmore (HLP) — 2

4. Logan Sabin (NI) — 2

FG Made

1. Logan Mayberry (NK) — 1

PAT Made

1. Gavin Elser (HLP) — 27

2. Logan Mayberry (NK) — 21

3. Alex Tiernan (STE) — 2

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