QB/Ethan Howard Erie/P’town
The season: Three-year starter who guided Panthers into playoffs a second straight year. Rushed for 858 yards on 110 carries, with six touchdowns. Threw just 30 passes but averaged better than 25 yards a completion. Knee injury in first playoff game ended season. Was on third team last year.
The word: “He was incredible for our offense. Ethan brings the intangibles to our offensive. He runs our option well. As a junior, he did have those passing stats, but this year our offensive line was so controlling I didn’t let him throw. He has the best arm I’ve had for a quarterback.” — Coach Chuck Milem
RB/Nick Williams Erie/P’town
The season: Finished the season with an area-best 2,097 rushing yards, with 24 touchdowns, in 11 games. Three Rivers Conference North Division Player of the Year. A second-team receiver as a junior.
The word: “It was fun to watch him. He’s a physical runner but had the finesse to make the spin move. He showed all the features (of a running back).” — Coach Chuck Milem
RB/Andrew Driscoll Easton Valley
The season: Two-way standout for the lone eight-player team in the area, earning first-team honors for the second year in a row. Carried the ball 228 times for 1,877 yards and 23 TDs. Also caught 55 passes for 222 yards.
The word: “Pound for pound, I would put him up with any back in the state. He played football the way it should be played, by giving 100 percent on every play.” — Coach Kevin Behr
WR/Chase Zaruba Easton Valley
The season: Another multiple threat for the Panthers, who was on the first team last year on defense. Caught 32 passes for 725 yards and 15 TDs, rushed 43 times for 258 yards and six TDs and had 31 returns for 753 yards, returning two interceptions, one fumble, one kickoff and one punt for touchdowns.
The word: “Was an exceptional two-way player for us. The most athletic kid on our team. Offensively proved numerous times that teams had to commit two defenders to him as he would burn man coverage every time.” — Coach Kevin Behr
WR/Ben Strathman Maquoketa
The season: Caught 43 passes for 613 yards and five TDs but also had two interceptions on defense and returned 17 kickoffs for 437 yards and 19 punts for 320, bringing on of each back for a TD.
The word: “One of the most versatile athletes that I have coached. (His catches), all the punt and kick return yards, his outstanding play at free-safety; he is a Jack of all trades. Ben made four highlight-film catches against Decorah that could make Sports Center. A pleasure to coach.” — Coach Kevin Bowman
WR/Brady Ernst Clinton
The season: First-team all-conference and third-team all-state receiver. Eleven of his 27 catches were for touchdowns. His size and leaping ability allowed him to go up and make catches in tight coverage.
The word: “He really allowed us to stretch our offense. Teams had to cover him with extra help, and when they didn’t you could see the results. He’s got even better years ahead of him. He really progressed fast and by the end of they year he was real physical.” — Coach Lee Camp
OL/Owen McConnell Erie/P’town
The season: The leader up for front for 8-3 team that averaged more than 300 yards a game rushing. Made the first team last year on the defensive line.
The word: “The get-off speed he has on every single down sets the pace for the rest of the line. His work ethic and 270-pound frame brought the line together.” — Coach Chuck Milem
OL/Brett Earles Easton Valley
The season: Was the top blocker for an offense that averaged 381 yards a game and 7.3 yards a play. A returning first-team All-Area player.
The word: “Great worker, both on the field and in the weight room. Three-year starter for us and was always able to dominate the line of scrimmage. Great kid.” — Coach Kevin Behr
OL/Evan Gerdes Clinton
The season: Anchored offensive line from the center position and was the biggest player up front after both starting tackles suffered season-ending injuries. Also saw time on defense.
The word: “Evan was excellent at getting everything organized. The leader of the linemen. He did a great job getting the calls.” — Coach Lee Camp
OL/Doug Hayen Central DeWitt
The season: With Hayen manning one of the tackle spots, Central DeWitt ranked eighth in Class 3A in total yards (373.8 a game).
The word: “He was that kind of on-field coach for us. Very knowledgeable. He does all the little things that you ask that allows him to go out and be successful. There’s that edge he brings to the offensive line.” — Coach Mike Miller
OL/Chod Gilbert Camanche
The season: A three-year starter who moves up from last year’s third team. First-team all-district lineman led an offense that averaged 271 yards a game.
The word: “Very consistent blocker. He can run block and pass block very well. We went through a lot of injuries so he was someone we could look to. He wasn’t a vocal leader, but he did his speaking with his play on the field.” — Coach Steve Dougherty
K/Cory Wirth Maquoketa
The season: A returning first-team pick who improved his stats despite a season-ending injury in Game 7. Perfect on all seven field goal attempts and all 26 PATs. Kicked a 49-yard field goal at Benton Community. Eleven of 41 kickoffs went for touchbacks.
The word: “Our coaching staff had to find ways to get Cory off of the field as he was our leading receiver prior to his injury, on defense he was our shut-down corner and he was a second-team all-state punter last year. His biggest flaw is that his GPA is only a 3.993.” — Coach Kevin Bowman
DL/Jake Willging Fulton
The season: Unaninimous all-conference selection. Recorded 34 solo tackles, 35 assists and 2.5 sacks. Also named second-team all-conference on offensive line.
The word: “He’s one of those guys the other team had to account for every time it broke the huddle. One of the best compliments is other teams ran away from him.” — Coach Patrick Lower
DL/Riley McDowell Central DeWitt
The season: Second on the team with 67 tackles; in on 15 tackles for lost yardage and four sacks, both team highs.
The word: “Riley really worked hard, improved himself and was disciplined. He played on the other side of the line of scrimmage which was really spectacular. He was our ring leader in being able to contain the running game.” — Coach Mike Miller
DL/Thomas Smith Clinton
The season: Impact player on defense with six sacks and 14 tackles for lost yardage. Recorded 42 tackles overall, 34 of them solos.
The word: “When Thomas explodes off the line, he’s tough to block. A lot of his tackles for loss were because several teams thought they could get outside of him, but he was able to close. Just using his physical presence out there provided leadership.” — Coach Lee Camp
DL/Austin Shoup Morrison
The season: Earned first-team All-Three Rivers Conference North Division honors.
The word: “Austin uses his speed and athleticism to explode off the ball and create plays in the offensive backfield.” — Coach Cory Bielema
LB/Austin Regenwether Fulton
The season: First-team all-conference on defense and offense, unanimous at running back with 1,233 yards rushing and 18 TDs. On defense he recorded 118 tackles, 58 solos.
The word: “As a linebacker, he came into his own. He impressed us as an inside linebacker covering sideline to sideline against the run and pass. He provided a rock we could lean on all year.” — Coach Patrick Lower
LB/Cohl Kueter Maquoketa
The season: A repeat selection, he set school’s single-season record with 93 tackles. Rushed for 602 yards on 116 carries with nine touchdowns and caught 10 passes for 148 yards.
The word: “Career-leading tackler for Maquoketa with 284 in his three years. He is the type of kid that would run through a brick wall for his teammates.” — Coach Kevin Bowman
LB/Dylan Binion Erie/P’town
The season: Led the defense with 97 tackles.
The word: “He’s a kid who’s very coachable. He does exactly what we ask him to do. He’s a good wrestler for us, which sets the mentality for the way he plays at linebacker. We ask him to take on some pretty good-sized fullbacks. We look for him to fill some big offensive shoes, as well.” — Coach Chuck Milem
LB/Drew Schroeder Central DeWitt
The season: Recorded a team-high 77 tackles. Named first-team all-state in Class 3A as an offensive lineman.
The word: “Not necessarily the most vocal kid, a little bit undersized, but there wasn’t a kid beating him at one time. He’s not physically imposing in his nature, but the things he brought as a linebacker, he emerged for us.” — Coach Mike Miller
DB/Alex Caldwell Clinton
The season: A third-team All-Area pick a year ago, he led Clinton’s defense this season with 103 tackles despite playing much of the season with a broken hand that required surgery.
The word: “What comes to mind is tough. He’s going to be wherever there’s an impact. Going through the injury he suffered, to not miss a game and play with a cast on his arm, he did some things to lead by example. Aggressive, has a good nose for the ball, and we moved him around to keep him at the ‘point of our spear.’ “ — Coach Lee Camp
DB/Dustin Caldwell Clinton
The season: Led River Kings with 58 solo tackles and finished with 83 total tackles. Two interceptions led team. Also was top rusher with 751 yards.
The word: “We’d move him in as a linebacker and he really stuck his nose in the middle of the mix. With the injury to Alex (Caldwell), we dumped on Dustin to go full-time on offense as well as defense. There were a lot of situations where he was always on the field.” — Coach Lee Camp
DB/Bryce Holesinger Fulton
The season: Safety was in on 90 tackles — 46 of them solos — for 5-4 team. Was on All-Area third team last year as a punter, and also played on offense.
The word: “This was his second year in the secondary, and he really did a nice job in pass coverage. He had four interceptions, and they were really key ones. He came up and made some big stops; as the last line of defense he stopped some key plays.” — Coach Patrick Lower
P/Derek Harksen Camanche
The season: Earned all-state honors after leading Class 2A with a 44.7-yard average on 33 punts. Also had 20 catches for 403 yards and led team in kickoff returns.
The word: “He absolutely is deserving of all the accolades; 44.7 yard average on 33 punts — he’s an exceptional punter. His true strength was in just letting him bomb it down there. A tremendous foot, versatile in that he can control where the ball goes.” — Coach Steve Dougherty