The aerial combination of Austin Halls and Cody Scroggie, key figures in the second-highest single-season scoring offense of all time in Iowa, were named to the first team of the Iowa Newspaper Association All-State Football Team today.
Halls was chosen as the captain of the Eight-Man all-state team. He is the second Mustang ever to be an Eight-Man all-state captain, joining his brother-in-law, Cole Page, who was selected to the 2000 team as a defensive back. Page is married to Halls’ sister, Tara.
In 2000, Page was selected first-team quarterback by the Des Moines Register and Eight-Man Player of the Year by the Iowa Football Coaches Association. Halls has similar offensive and defensive credentials at the same positions.
After being named the INA second-team all-state quarterback in 2011, Halls was selected to the first team as a defensive back this season. His seven interceptions lifted his three-year career total to 21, and with nine fumble recoveries he accounted for 30 career takeaways, six returned for touchdowns.
It was on offense where the shifty 6-2, 170-pound senior was the catalyst for a Mustang team that scored 852 points this season, second all-time only to 891 by state champion Fremont-Mills last year.
This season Halls was 120-of-217 passing for 1,899 yards and 35 touchdowns, with seven interceptions. He picked up an additional 1,113 yards rushing (8.6 average) and 27 TDs, for 62 total touchdowns.
For his career, Halls is tied for fourth all-time in Eight-Man history with 21 defensive interceptions, sixth all-time with 83 passing TDs and ninth with 5,174 career passing yards. He has also collected 1,768 rushing yards and 42 TDs, and 213 career tackles in one of the most complete careers in Eight-Man history.
Halls, unanimous choice as District 6 Offensive Player of the Year, is the school’s all-time leader in every passing category with more than 5,000 career yards and 83 TDs. In his three years as quarterback, the Mustangs were 31-6.
“Austin is the fiercest competitor I have ever coached,” coach Keith Shields said. “He led us to the championship game in 2011 and to the semifinals in 2012. He’s an all-state basketball player as well, has participated in state track and is an honor roll student. Besides his performance, Austin is a great leader on the field in terms of getting people in the right positions and anticipating what the opponent is trying to do. He’s a playmaker.”
The INA first-team quarterback is Tanner Utesch of state champion Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn, who had 1,969 yards passing and 927 rushing. Don Bosco’s Jake Hogan, also a pass-run threat with 3,727 total yards and 54 touchdowns this season, is the second-team quarterback. Hogan led Don Bosco to a 78-76 semifinal win over Murray.
Scroggie was a repeat selection on the INA Eight-Man first team as a wide receiver.
Despite missing three games with an ankle injury, and slowed by the injury during the playoffs, the 5-11, 155-pound senior had 48 receptions for 976 yards (20.8 average) with 17 touchdowns. He returned two interceptions for 62 yards and a touchdown, had 70 total tackles and a rushing touchdown while picking up 109 yards on six carries.
For his career, Scroggie had 122 receptions (seventh all-time in Eight-Man) for 2,446 yards (third all-time) and 40 touchdowns (sixth all-time). He scored 304 career points. He also averaged 11.3 yards on 15 rushes for 170 yards. Defensively, he had 256 total tackles including 11 for losses, along with 11 interceptions including one returned for a TD.
In his final game, the semifinal 78-76 loss to Gilbertville Don Bosco, Scroggie made 11 catches for 236 yards and five touchdowns.
“Cody is the best receiver I have coached,” coach Keith Shields said. “He is an excellent all-around player who has helped lead us to back to back UNI-Dome appearances and is the school’s all-time receiving leader.”
Leading tackler Eddie Otto, explosive running back Andrew Rider and running back Seth Nerness all received nominations and consideration for all-state recognition by the committee. All three were two-way standouts for the Mustangs.
Murray, a balanced team, had two 1,000-yard rushers (Halls and Nerness) in addition to Rider, who ended with 851 yards before breaking his arm early in the Oct. 19 game against Lamoni.
Halls, named Sunday to the Des Moines Register’s elite (all classes) team as a defensive back, was the leader of a Mustang offense in 2012 that scored 852 points, second all-time in Iowa high school history behind the 891 scored last year by Fremont-Mills.
Halls could beat you through the air, or on foot. With Rider injured and Adair-Casey concentrating on stopping Nerness on the pitch sweeps, Halls rushed for 381 yards in a quarterfinal victory.
The next week in the UNI-Dome, with Gilbertville Don Bosco stacked against the run, Halls was 18-of-32 passing for 309 yards and five TDs. He also ran for 90 yards.
“Both Austin and Cody are quicker and faster on the football field than you think they are,” Shields said. “Austin gave us a threat at quarterback we had never had before as far as throwing the ball and also being a threat to run. When he was being pressured, he had a knack for keeping his focus downfield and knowing where his receivers were.”
More often than not, that target was Scroggie.
“Sometimes those two guys just made eye contact, and if the route called wasn’t available, Austin had a feel if Cody was going to break off the route,” Shields said. “They worked together so well on the field. It’s the same thing for them on the basketball court.”
Scroggie’s ability to beat double coverage was on display in the UNI-Dome against a Don Bosco team often geared to stop him.
“If the football is in his area, he’s probably going to be the guy to go and get it,” Shields said. “Sometimes it’s like he hits another gear when the ball is in the air.”
Also from the area, East Union senior linebacker Bryson Kinyon and junior defensive linemen Todd Stoaks of Lenox and Keegan Longabaugh were nominations under consideration by this year’s all-state committee.
Corning did have a selection in third-team punter Nick Spring. Among players with 15 or more punts, Spring was second in the state with a 39.3 average per punt.
Spring, a 6-3, 180-pound junior, also played some wide receiver and defensive back for the Red Raiders. He filled a valuable role in a position that was undetermined when preseason workouts began.
“We came into the season not knowing who our punter would be,” coach Kent Bass said. “Nick was a big, strong athletic kid and was striking the ball well. We just tweaked a couple of things and he was consistent from day one.”
Spring fine-tuned the art of punting, the coach noted.
“He developed some good hang time, and many times he either kicked it over the return man’s head, or up the sideline where they couldn’t return it,” Bass said. “He really flipped the field for us a few times, when we were back on our 15 or 10-yard line.”
A complete list of all three teams in each class on the INA all-state squads will be published in Friday’s News Advertiser.