It’s been a theme the last few springs at Northeast High School in Goose Lake – seniors committing to continue their football career.
Not only that, but seniors trading in their blue to wear the black and orange of Wartburg College.
Four Northeast graduates suited up for the Knights this season, and another committed to heading to Waverly next year.
Nick Wall and Will Hasken played for the Knights and were joined by incoming freshmen Dawson Stoll and Braeden Hoyer. Northeast senior Dakota Stevenson will join the team in 2020.
That trend started in 2015 when Wall graduated high school, choosing Wartburg for his next step.
“I really wanted to be a part of such a prestigious football team that has proved they have the talent and discipline to win championships at the Division 3 level ,” Wall said. “I was also visited by some coaches who drove all the way to Northeast to visit with me on a school day. Wartburg’s campus just felt like the right fit for me.”
The next year, Hasken followed him. Then Stoll and Hoyer.
“It was pretty awesome that I ended up getting that fifth year so that I could play with Dawson and Braeden, too,” Wall said. “Since the three of us played the same position I could help them out a little and coach them up during practice. It does make it more special to see kids from your high school that you have played with before, playing by your side once again in college.”
A Division 3 college in a town with a population under 10,000 makes the transition from a town like Goose Lake or Miles a little easier. That’s clear from the amount of small-town students the Knights attract, including Prince of Peace’s Patrick Mulholland, Brandt Peterson and Easton Necker from Central DeWitt, and a number of Tri-Rivers and River Valley Conference athletes.
“I would say that the amount of teammates that were going to be at Wartburg definitely helped me decide to play football there,” Dawson Stoll said. “Braeden Hoyer and I actually decided together because ever since middle school we’ve been pretty much inseparable so we decided together and went out there and were roommates. Also another thing that helped me decide was the amount of guys I already knew out there from other schools, too.”
Moving from small-school to small-college is still a difference, and it’s been an experience for all the former Rebels.
“Wartburg is a great school for small town athletes because it’s in a smaller town,” Stoll said. “Everyone at the college pretty much knows one another whether you are in sports or not. The best parts were definitely meeting a ton of new people. I made a lot of friendships.”
Wall: “I have also met many of my lifelong friends who were also on the football team when I came to Wartburg. My experience here at Wartburg was more than I could’ve asked for.”
Dakota Stevenson, a 1st Team All-District runningback with over 800 rushing yards, committed to join some of his former teammtes next year. Although all five of them won’t be on the field, it still influenced his decision.
“I think it’s pretty cool that I’ll be able to play with some former teammates of mine. Those are just bonuses of going to Wartburg,” Stevenson said. “I decided to attend Wartburg because it felt like home. Everybody there cares about you as a person, they have great academics, a great football program, and best of all the have phenomenal community support.”
Wall got to see three conference championships in his five seasons in orange, and got to see some of his younger teammates grow. With Wall and Hasken graduating and Stoll not returning, it’ll be just Hoyer and Stevenson suiting up this fall.
But clearly something is working at Northeast that’s turning out great football players.
“Being a Rebel has taught me to never give up no matter what the circumstances are,” Stevenson said. “Always give everything 100% effort. If you want it you’re going to have to work for it because nothing is going to be handed to you.”