Grinnell Tigers No. 3 in Class 3A in Des Moines Register preseason rankings; Lynnville-Sully 4th in Class 1A, Williamsburg 7th in Class 3A
By JOHN NAUGHTON
TEAM TO BEAT
BGM of Brooklyn’s football team looks like a rerun.
This fall’s edition returns 15 players that served as starters on last year’s 10-3 team.
The Bears reached the semifinal round of the Class A state playoffs, losing to eventual state champion Wapsie Valley of Fairbank.
Quarterback Bryan Kriegel threw for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s joined in the backfield by Jack Kline (1,501 yards, 16 touchdowns) and Kyle Gritsch (938 yards, 12 scores).
Kline was a first-team all-state defensive back. He intercepted eight passes, returning three for touchdowns.
All-state linebacker Adam Hawkins led the team with 149 tackles, 20 of them solo tackles for losses. Gritsch was second on the team with 143 tackles. Colton Ryan was in on 97 tackles.
The big and powerful roster of linemen includes 290-pound Scott Brau, 285-pound Spencer Meldrem, 255-pound Jake Tibbetts and 235-pound Shane Slaymaker.
The Bears have a tough district that features No. 4 Lynnville-Sully. The teams meet Sept. 20 at Brooklyn. Other strong District 6 foes include Pekin of Packwood and Montezuma.
BGM has never reached the state championship, but this fall’s team may have the tools to get there.
West Lyon of Inwood went 9-2 last season with a fairly young squad. Nine starters are back, including eight players who earned all-district honors. Kicker Brandon Snyder was a first-team all-state selection… Wapsie Valley of Fairbank went unbeaten a year ago. The team graduated 14 seniors, but returns several key players, including all-state defensive lineman BJ Weepie… Lynnville-Sully has eight starters back. Among them are all-staters Bailee Samson, a defensive lineman, and T.J. Cunningham, a defensive back… Lisbon welcomes back 10 returning starters. Logan Rickard, a second-team all-state lineman, leads the defense.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Chance Hoffman of Akron-Westfield caught 52 passes for 1,003 yards and 12 touchdowns while earning first-team all-state honors … Levi Paulsen of Woodbury Central is a 6-5, 275-pound lineman. He was a first-team all-stater on defense … Joe Burgmeier of Mason City Newman earned second-team all-state recognition as a running back. He rushed for 1,501 yards and 19 touchdowns … Brandon Kaufman of North Tama of Traer had 105 tackles a year ago … Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s Wyatt Swanson was a second-team all-state kicker. He also had two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
Algona Garrigan looks to improve after returning 10 starters from last year’s 4-6 campaign. Coach Marty Wadle has a 145-65 career record.
Hinton was last season’s state runner-up. That’s the school’s best postseason finish. Four starters return.
Woodward-Granger’s Marshall Nieland returned four interceptions for touchdowns.
TEAM TO BEAT
Sioux City Heelan won its most recent state football title in 2008 with a run-oriented offense featuring Brandon Wegher. That seems long ago when one considers this year’s passing attack.
Heelan’s Trenton Solsma threw for 3,177 yards and 39 touchdowns last fall. Receiver Connor Niles caught 59 passes for 1,082 yards and 18 touchdowns. Both players earned Des Moines Sunday Register all-state honors.
Solsma led the state’s 3-A passers in yardage and ranked second only to Marshalltown’s Blake Gimbel, who threw for 3,979 yards.
Niles topped all 3-A players in touchdown receptions. Philip Jacobson, who hauled in 42 passes for 736 yards, also returns.
Heelan has one of the state’s richest playoff traditions, with 32 appearances. Last season’s team finished 12-2, taking second to unbeaten Decorah in the 3-
A state championship game.
Christian Brobst, who led the team with 115 tackles, also returns. He’s joined on defense by two-way stars Jacobson (92 tackles) and Niles (seven interceptions, two returned for touchdowns). Teammate Tyler Cropley had three interceptions and four fumble recoveries.
Heelan opens the season with three consecutive games against fellow Sioux City schools East, North and West.
Harlan coach Curt Bladt has won a state-record 11 championships. Quarterback Adam Juhl threw for 1,827 yards. He’s one of 10 returning starters … Grinnell’s Eli Dunne threw for 3,099 yards last fall. He tossed 28 touchdown passes against five interceptions. His backfield mate, Bryce Lidtka, rushed for 1,067 yards and 24 scores … Waverly-Shell Rock seeks to rally behind all-state offensive lineman Josh Wright, a Division I prospect. He’s one of 10 returning starters for the team … Pella’s returning cast includes two all-state players: Linebacker Nathan Clayberg and lineman Garret Jansen. They combined for 105 total tackles last fall.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Humboldt’s Brady Ross is a standout two-way player. He rushed for 1,381 yards and 18 touchdowns as a sophomore and had 105 tackles while earning all-state honors as a linebacker … Hunter Cushman of Spencer led 3-A with nine interceptions. Williamsburg’s Aaron Schultz had seven. Schultz was a first-team all-state selection, Cushman was a second-teamer … Trevor Frain of Creston/Orient-Macksburg was a first-team all-state linebacker. He had 107 tackles a year ago … Alex Coker of Washington, a second-team all-stater at defensive back, also rushed for 955 yards.
Decorah opens the season with a 14-game winning streak. The Vikings return four starters from last year’s state championship squad. Holt Johansen rushed for 1,166 yards.
Maquoketa returns nine starters. Among them is linebacker Cohl Kueter, who had 121 tackles last season.
Clear Lake’s Fred Wieck has won 257 games in his career.