As a local sports reporter, you get to know the high school athletes in the areas you cover, and if you stick around long enough, you get to watch them mature over the years on the fields, courts, tracks, rinks, and pools where they compete.
But, at the end of every year, schools must say “sayonara” to a crop of seniors as they graduate and go on to new adventures.
For some, they choose to go to college, and for those athletes with exceptional abilities, they go on to play collegiate athletics.
A few weeks ago I wrote a story about Ryan Long, a Dassel-Cokato graduate that plays football at Northwestern College.
The Eagles were hoping to beat St. Thomas in their final game of the regular season, and earn an invitation to the NCAA DIII national tournament.
Unfortunately, that didn’t work out for the Eagles as St. Thomas beat them 41-0.
Fortunately, NWC’s season wasn’t over as they still got to play in the National Christian College Athletic Association Victory Bowl Nov. 21, where they duked it out against Malone University (6-4 record, Canton, OH) at the Metrodome in Minneapolis for a 49-44 win.
That’s a ton of scoring.
It was just the second time NWC has won the Victory Bowl out of five appearances playing in it.
The Eagles finished 2008 with a 9-2 record.
Long saw plenty of action in the championship game, as he rushed for 68 yards on 17 carries. He also had three receptions for 56 yards and a touchdown.
Long finishes the 2008 season with 1,003 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 155 carries, and 236 yards and four touchdowns on 14 receptions. He also earned the honor of being named to the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference first all-conference team
The Eagles had 14 out of 29 players named to the all-conference team.
I’d like to congratulate Long and the Eagles on a successful season, and hopefully, they will get another shot at the NCAA DIII tournament next season.
As a local sports writer, I concentrate my reporting on local sports teams, but I also think it important to stay in touch with local athletes that go on to play at the next level of competition.
They have worked hard to get to that level, and they deserve recognition from their local paper.
After I wrote the piece on Long, DC’s football coach, Ryan Weinandt informed me of five other DC graduates that have gone on and are currently part of a college football roster.
So, I thought I would do a little catching up to see where they are in the next level. Some are just beginning as freshman, and may not have cracked the varsity squad yet, while others are getting playing time and making a difference for their team.
These are just the DC grads who are playing college football, so if anyone has information about other DC graduates that are part of a college roster in any sport, please let me know by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Help me keep the local communities in touch with the young athletes that come out of them.
• Kevin Ness, the son of Ken and Karen Ness, graduated from Dassel-Cokato in 2006 and is a junior at Bethel University in St. Paul.
The Royals tried to repeat the success it had in 2007, when it was one game away from playing in the Stagg Bowl, the NCAA DIII National Championship, but didn’t do as well, as the team finished 5-5 in 2008.
As the punter for the Royals, Ness was kept busy with 53 punts for 1,765 yards that is an average of 33.3 yards a punt.
His longest in 2008 was 51 yards, and 12 of the punts were marked within the opposing team’s 20-yard line.
• John Sherman, the son of John and Lynn Sherman, graduated from Dassel-Cokato in 2006, and has gone on to play tight end for the University of Wisconsin-Stout Blue Devils in Menomonie.
The Devils compiled a 5-5 record in the 2008 season.
Although he has seen playing time in his previous two seasons, he had two receptions for 27 yards in 2007, he played a much bigger role with the team in 2008.
Sherman played in all 10 games and caught 19 passes for 207 yards and one touchdown. He also carried the ball four times for 44 yards.
• Josh Aho, the son of Tom and Karen Aho, graduated from Dassel-Cokato in 2008 and is a freshman at Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD.
As a freshman receiver with the Wolves football team, Aho played in eight games and caught 11 passes for 138 yards during the 2008 season.
The Wolves finished with a 1-10 record.
• Scott Steuck, the son of Tim and Sue Steuck, graduated from Dassel-Cokato in 2008, and is a freshman as University of Minnesota Crookston in Crookston, MN.
Steuck is listed as an offensive lineman with the Golden Eagle’s football team, which finished with a 2-9 record in 2008.
• Phil Uecker, the son of Lyle and Vicki Uecker, graduated from Dassel-Cokato in 2008, and is a freshman at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, SD.
Uecker is listed as a linebacker with the Vikings football team, and although he may not be getting any varsity time yet, he was named the “Scout Team Special Teams Player of the Week” in week one.
The Vikings currently sport a 7-4 record and have been selected to play in the Mineral Water Bowl in Excelsior Springs, MO, Dec. 6, against Missouri Western State University.