The Mount Ayr Raiders placed three athletes on the Class 1A first-team all-state as announced by the Iowa Newspaper Association with assistance from the Iowa Football Coaches Association, while also having a player named to the second team and one to the third team.
“I think that’s a nice reflection on our success this season,” co-head coach Delwyn Showalter said. “I think it’s good recognition that we were a well-rounded team. It wasn’t just one or two people, we had a lot of people that contributed to that effort. This would be the most we’ve had in any one year. I don’t think we’ve ever had more than one on first team, so I think we’re breaking a lot of new ground this year.”
“I think it definitely reflects our record and the district title,” co-head coach Derek Lambert said. “I really thought our kids performed really well, even in crunch time. Other people saw that as well.”
Junior quarterback Jacob Sobotka, senior receiver Braydee Poore and sophomore defensive lineman Joe Ricker headline the list of Raider representatives on the all-state team, as each made the first team.
Sobotka, a 6-2, 200-pound junior, led the state in total yards (3,075) and touchdowns (41). Sobotka was named the first-team offensive utility player.
“Jacob obviously is our cog offensively,” Lambert said. “Jacob is a young man who I really feel is an I-back in a power-I formation, and has converted himself into a quarterback. He was a young man I approached this past spring and said ‘would you want to play some running back this year?’ He said ‘absolutely not. I want the quarterback spot. I’ve worked hard for that, and I want that challenge.’ That’s the kind of guy you want leading your team.”
Braydee Poore, a 6-2, 160-pound senior receiver, finished second in the state in receiving yards with 854, earning him a first-team nod at receiver. He hauled in 41 catches for an average of 20.8 yards per catch, and had nine receiving touchdowns. Poore broke every school record for receiving.
Poore added five interceptions on defense, which tied for sixth in the state. He had one kickoff return for a touchdown.
“Braydee has excelled in every sport he’s been involved in,” Showalter said. “If you ask Braydee as a freshman, he wasn’t sure he was going to come back out as a sophomore, and he became just a phenomenal receiver. His numbers in the last two years in Class 1A have been staggering.”
Ricker, a 6-0, 270-pound sophomore defensive lineman, finished tied for fourth in the state with 19 solo tackles for a loss, while also recording six sacks, earning first-team honors at defensive line.
“A sophomore making first team says an awful lot,” Showalter said. “He had a lot of solo tackles, and solo tackles for loss. He’s a strong kid, and he’s got quickness. His footwork is as good as anybody we’ve got, and that’s saying something for someone who is built like Joe.”
Mason Mercer, a 5-11, 225-pound junior lineman, earned second-team honors at offensive line, after falling short of the first team by just one vote. Aside from having a strong season on the offensive line, Mercer also finished with 85 tackles, 18 solo tackles for loss and six sacks.
“Mason Mercer is another young man who has a tremendous work ethic,” Lambert said. “Mason’s got a little bit of that nastiness to him, which you need in football. He’s got a little bit of that edge. He takes it personally if things don’t go his way. We’re really thankful to have him back for another year. He’s a leader for us.”
Levi Martin, a 5-11, 240-pound senior lineman, made the third-team at offensive line. On the defensive side of the ball, Martin finished with 49 total tackles, including five for a loss and three sacks.
“Levi is another young man who has worked extremely hard and got himself into this position, not because of natural ability — he’s got natural ability — but he had to develop that natural ability,” Showalter said. “It’s been a lot of work in the weight room, a lot of work in the offseason. You very rarely noticed anything he’s doing, which for an offensive lineman, that means he’s doing something good.”
Senior linebacker Zane Sickels fell just two votes short of making the third team, while junior receiver Erik Freed also received discussion for the third team.
The Raiders finished their season with an 11-1 mark.
In Class 1A, Emmetsburg senior Andrew Wellik was named captain. The 5-11, 200-pound offensive back was the rushing leader for the Emmetsburg E-Hawks in their 36th state playoff qualification. After rushing 268 times for a total of 2,734 yards, Wellik scored 38 touchdowns on the ground and caught 10 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown, as well as adding a two-point conversion run. Wellik also had 11 solo tackles and 35 assisted tackles on the season.