This year I got the opportunity to watch 22 different teams from 9-Man to 6A. In those games, there were good performances and season remembering performances I watched. Of those 22 teams, I give you the six best performances I watched this year in no particular order.
Week 2: East Ridge at Cretin Derham-Hall
Top Performer: Preston Thelemann, Quarterback, Cretin Derham-Hall
My Quote: Why is there a QB controversy for the Raiders?
Thelemann was the first game I started tallying stats on a spreadsheet of the year. In the press box at St. Thomas, I heard that there was a QB battle swirling and the Raiders were still trying to figure out who their QB1 was. Insert Preston Thelemann (2020), who threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns against the Raptors defense. We learned about how he could spread the ball around in this one, with wide receivers Tyson Schilling (2020) and Marselio Mendez (2020) and others. This was a good one to watch back in Week 2.
Week 7: United South Central at St. Clair/Mankato Loyola
Top Performer: Zach Niebuhr, Running Back, United South Central
My Quote: The Definition of Ground and Pound, Zach Niebuhr.
This was my longest traveled game of the year. Living in Big Lake, I took the 1.5-hour trip down to very rainy St. Clair, Minnesota for a Thursday night matchup between the Rebels of USC and the co-op program of St. Clair/Mankato Loyola. I did some research before the game while sitting in Mankato, about Zach Niebuhr (2020), a running back who had 27 touchdowns as a junior for the Rebels and was having an excellent senior season as well. In the worst weather game I watched this season, Niebuhr carried the ball 34 times for 179 yards rushing and a touchdown and led the Rebels to victory to go 7-0 on the season. Folks will probably say, Nate, he only had one touchdown what’s to talk about? I’m talking about finding a “diamond in the rough” player in a region of the state that I have hardly ever been to nor watched a high school football game in. Niebuhr turned out to be one of the top running backs in the state and played in the Minnesota Football Showcase at US Bank Stadium that features the top senior players from the entire state of Minnesota. That is why Week 7 was a beneficial game performance I watched.
Week 8: Glencoe-Silver Lake at Zimmerman
Top Performer: Carter McEachern, Quarterback/Defensive Back, Zimmerman
My Quote: This kid can run well, pass well, and catch game-winning interceptions? A 6’6, across the board, football star.
The last game I watched of the regular season was 17 minutes from my house to Zimmerman where I watched Glencoe-Silver Lake (5-2) travel to the Zimmerman Thunder (6-1). This game started with GSL pounding it in with RB Mitchell Jaskowiak (2022) to put them up 7-0. After the first quarter, the Carter McEachern (2020) show got started, when he got loose for a 60 yard run to the end zone to get Zimmerman closer to GSL just down 7-6 with the missed extra point. He would then strike again later in the 2nd quarter with another rushing TD to get Zimmerman the 12-7 lead at the half. After a quarter of no scoring, McEachern closed a double whammy, running for a 27-yard touchdown and then catching a game-clinching interception on defense. That day, McEachern had over 175 yards of total offense, 3 touchdowns and an INT on the other side of the ball. This was a great performance to watch to close out the regular season.
Section Semifinals: Milaca at Annandale
Top Performer:, Quarterback, Annandale
My Quote: This QB checks off all the boxes in what you look for in your QB1.
This section seminals game, took me to Annandale to watch their 3A matchup against the Milaca Wolves, who were large underdogs in this one and proved to be overmatched by the Cardinals. In a packed house at Annandale, I watched(2021) check off all the boxes I would be looking for if I was a college quarterback’s coach. Size? 6’4. Good deep ball? Yes. Elusive under pressure? Yes. Spreads the ball around? Yes. I said back then, Jones has a deserving future in our Class of 2021 power rankings for Northstar Football News and his game against Milaca with over 250 yards passing and three touchdowns are why I think he’s a quarterback to watch in 2021 out of central Minnesota.
Section Finals: Mayer Lutheran vs. Browerville-Eagle Valley (at St. John’s University)
Top Performers: Mason Gode and Austin Carr, Running Back, Browerville-Eagle Valley
My Quote: The 1-2 punch at running back in 1A everyone needs to watch.
After two games back to back at St. John’s, and in Clemens Stadium until after midnight, I thought I was dreaming when I saw this 1-2 punch in the running game for the Browerville-Eagle Valley Tigers. The two running backs that ran for around 300 yards rushing, were Austin Carr (2021), who ran for 148 yards and 3 touchdowns and Mason Gode (2022) who ran for 149 yards and 3 touchdowns in which their contributions counted for about 82% of the Tigers scoring that night. They shredded the Mayer Lutheran rush defense with 9 yards per carry all game long and sent themselves to US Bank Stadium in which they would make it to the 1A title game against BOLD and be defeated. Gode, a sophomore and Carr, a junior, has a definite chance to get back to a state championship in Minneapolis next year.
State Quarterfinals: Renville County West vs. Hancock (at Bison Stadium, Buffalo)
Top Performer: Tyler Timmerman, Running Back, Hancock
My Quote: I’ve lost track of how many touchdowns Timmerman had in this one.
In what would be my last game coverage of the football season, this one made me achieve my start of the year goal, seeing every class of football (9-man thru 6A) in Minnesota in my first year of writing about high school football. This was one of the most back and forth games I watched to close out the year with Renville County West Jaguars leading at halftime, 14-6. Let’s call the second half the “Timmerman Takeover”, as he went for four touchdowns and was trucking linebackers, safeties, and everyone else in his way for six. He would score every touchdown for the Owls and lead the charge for their 32-20 win over Renville County West to get the Hancock Owls to Minneapolis for the state semifinals in which they would roll over Mountain Iron-Buhl and just by the skin of their teeth, lose in the 9-man state championship game to Mountain Lake Area Wolverines by a score of 22-14.
Next time, I will talk about the top defensive performances I watched this year.