Five Panthers on all-district first team
Five Creston/O-M players were selected to the first team in the Class 3A District 1 All-District football team announced Monday. With Lewis Central’s loss to Sioux City Bishop Heelan Friday night, the all-district teams were released.
Two Panthers were unanimously selected to the first team defense — lineman Keaton Hulett and linebacker Trevor Frain. Named to the first unit on offense are quarterback Luke Neitzel, lineman Cole Tanner and running back Bryce McIlravy.
Representing the Panthers on the second team are offensive lineman Theo Hartman, defensive lineman Nathan Robinson, defensive back Kainen Somers and punter Alex Nielsen.
Earning honorable mention are tight end and safety Briar Evans and outside linebacker Brandon Phipps, who spelled Neitzel at quarterback for the last two games when Neitzel sustained a hand injury.
Creston/O-M coach Brian Morrison said his team’s two unanimous picks were simple selections for the district coaches.
“When I brought up Keaton Hulett’s name, (Harlan coach) Curt Bladt’s comment was, ‘enough said.’ He had a tremendous year,” Morrison said. “Seventeen tackles for losses, and 67 tackles overall from that position for us is something that’s pretty difficult to do.”
Frain was one vote from unanimous last year, and easily picked up that distinction this season as a junior. He had a team-high 107 tackles, including 16 for loss.
“When you play our defense with Trevor at linebacker, you know he’ll always be around the football,” Morrison said. “We don’t blitz hardly at all and he has 16 tackles for loss. That shows you how he plays the position.”
McIlravy was a returnee at first team running back despite missing the final district game against Lewis Central with a fractured ankle. He had 588 yards rushing and four TDs on a team featuring Neitzel with over 1,200 yards.
“Bryce was one vote away from being unanimous,” Morrison said. “So, he had a lot of respect from the coaches. People understood what he meant to our offense and the type of runner he was.”
Neitzel was one of the best run-pass combination quarterbacks in the state, running for 1,260 yards and 19 touchdowns while passing 51-for-101 for 708 yards and eight TDs with only four interceptions. He was also a defensive standout with seven interceptions and 56 tackles as a safety.
At quarterback, he beat out the likes of Atlantic’s Harrison Hoegh, who surpassed Bret Meyer’s school record for passing yards, and ADM’s Kyle Herrick.
“His numbers are so consistently high,” Morrison said. “He’s a different type quarterback than the Atlantic kid, but it’s pretty hard to beat 1,200 yards rushing and 700-plus passing with 27 total touchdowns.”
The recognition for offensive linemen Tanner and Hartman were fitting for how the Panthers moved the ball this season, Morrison said.
“They understood that (line) was our strong point, so it’s nice to get Cole on the first team and Theo on the second,” Morrison said.
Likewise, Hulett and Robinson were stalwarts on the defensive front. Robinson was disruptive to the middle of opposing offenses from his nose guard spot.
“Nate-Rob was one of those kids who really stepped up for us this year,” Morrison said. “He had an outstanding season. He is the reason Trevor Frain and Alex Tamerius can run free and get to the football. Typically, he takes on a double-team.”
Returning from missing his junior season with a knee injury, Somers had a productive senior campaign at cornerback. He had 34 tackles and an interception while often drawing the district’s top receivers in coverage.
“They would try him early and then not much after that,” Morrison said. “He was a solid defender against the pass, our most consistent player in that regard. He also played the run well. He’s just solid.”
Nielsen came on strong as the Panther punter, finishing with a 34.1-yard average while kicking away from top opposing returners, by design.
“Once he hit district play, Alex was good for us,” Morrison said. “He was second-best in the district in punting average.”
Creston/O-M’s run-oriented offense probably affected Evans’ receiving statistics compared to tight ends from passing teams like Harlan and Atlantic, Morrison said.
“He’s one of those kids whose numbers aren’t great, but that’s based on what we do offensively,” Morrison said. “He is one of the better blockers and had an outstanding year. He was also outstanding on defense. For Briar to be honorable mention shows you how deep this district is. In some other districts, he’s a first-team kid.”
Phipps had two interceptions, including one for a touchdown against Harlan, and had 53 tackles from his strong safety position. He also backed up Neitzel at quarterback.
“Brandon is one of our better defensive players,” Morrison said, “We moved him out of there for the last game and the playoff game so he could really get in tune with quarterback full-time, but he worked so hard and is really competitive. That was a big-time play he had against Harlan.”
Class 3A Dist. 1
(* - Unanimous)
Quarterback — Luke Neitzel, Creston/O-M.
Running backs — Jordan Grove, ADM; Bryce McIlravy, Creston/O-M; Derek Jones, Glenwood.
Wide receivers — *Sam Markham, Atlantic; Nate Kloewer, Harlan.
Tight end — David Ratigan, Harlan.
Offensive line — Austin Lear, Lewis Central; *Jordan Siebert, Harlan; *Derek Anderson, Harlan; Cole Tanner, Creston/O-M; Noah Taylor, ADM.
Kicker — Caleb Shudak, Lewis Central.
At-large — Harrison Hoegh, Atlantic.
Defensive line — J.J. Hahn, Glenwood; *Keaton Hulett, Creston/O-M; Zac Renshaw, Lewis Central; Nick Kornischuk, Harlan.
Linebackers — *Trevor Frain, Creston/O-M; *Dylan Nelson, ADM; Jeff Flies, Harlan; Derek Jenkins, Lewis Central.
Defensive backs — Austin Hess, Harlan; Chad Christensen, Atlantic; Will Whiton, Perry; Blake Heimann, ADM.
Punter — Mark Savage, Lewis Central.
At-large — Nick Sulentic, Lewis Central.
Quarterback — Kyle Herrick, ADM.
Running backs — Chris Hopkins, Harlan; Spencer Smith, Glenwood; Seth Stetzel, Perry.
Wide receiver — Tate Jensen, ADM; Luke Harrison, Lewis Central.
Tight end — Nate Pettepier, Lewis Central.
Offensive line — Theo Hartman, Creston/O-M; Michael Lansing, Perry; James Muschenheim, Lewis Central; Chase Carrick, Perry; Anthony Weiland, ADM.
Kicker — Ethan Knudsen, Harlan.
Defensive line — Nathan Robinson, Creston/O-M; Shawn Schaben, Harlan; Torry Brelsford, Perry; Jesse Bennett, ADM.
Linebackers — Stuart Hoegh, Atlantic; Jackson VanKirk, Perry; Bryce Wernimont, Atlantic; Darold Baker, ADM.
Defensive backs — Kainen Somers, Creston/O-M; Grant Goeden, ADM; Connor Clayton, Harlan; Mitch Bowden, Glenwood.
Punter — Alex Nielsen, Creston/O-M.
ADM — Sam Plagman, Tristen Pitsenbarger.
Atlantic — Dalton Franken, Nick Olsen, Tyler Christensen.
Lewis Central — Ethan Ruby, Alex Martin.
Creston/O-M — Briar Evans, Brandon Phipps.
Harlan — Adam Zaccone, Adam Juhl.
Perry — Sergi Olivera, Walter Juarez.
Glenwood — Kyle Kawecki, Conner Fikes.
Final standings — Harlan 5-1, ADM 4-2, Lewis Central 4-2, Creston/O-M 4-2, Atlantic 2-4, Glenwood 1-5, Perry 1-5.