FAIRMONT - An elusive receiver who made even sure-handed tacklers miss and a middle linebacker who rarely missed wrapping up opposing ball carriers will return to the gridiron one last time as prep players this summer.
Fairmont senior split end Bryce Holm and Blue Earth Area senior linebacker Carter Hanson will represent the area by competing in the 2013 Minnesota High School All-Star Football Game at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 29.
Holm, Hanson and the rest of the South All-Stars will square off against the North in the 40th annual prep gridiron showcase at Husky Stadium on the St. Cloud State University campus after a six-day training camp at St. John's University in Collegeville.
ALL-STAR SELECTION — Fairmont split end Bryce Holm leaps high to snag a pass during regular-season football action against St. Peter last fall. Holm has been selected to play in the Minnesota High School All-Star Football Game on June 29 in St. Cloud. (Photo by Leanna Becker)
Ironically, Hanson has narrowed his final collegiate choice to St. John's, in addition to the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, while Holm already has committed to playing football for Bethel University in Arden Hills in the upcoming fall.
After three years of collisions on Mahoney Field in Fairmont and Wilson Field in Blue Earth as rivals, the pair of all-state selections will finally wear the same football jersey in two and a half months.
"Both my back and shoulder are finally healing up, so it'll be nice to put the pads back on for the all-star game," said Hanson, who battled through both injuries to help guide Class AAA Football Coach of the Year Randy Kuechenmeister's Bucs to the program's first-ever state championship and a perfect 13-0 season last fall. "After talking to the last couple of former Blue Earth Area guys (Jake Lee and Logan Becker) who played in the game, I know it'll be fun, but competitive.
"I know I'll have to go out and prove myself again against the best players in the state."
While the hard-hitting Hanson's health was his only potential hurdle in not being able to suit up for the pigskin classic, the sure-handed Holm faced an even more difficult dilemma in opting to accept the All-Star committee's invitation.
"I will be missing a family cruise to Italy during that time (frame). It was definitely a tough decision, but I can't play football for the rest of my life. Hopefully, I'll be able to get there (Italy) in the future," said Holm, who played an integral role in engineering Fairmont head coach Mat Mahoney and the Cardinals to the school's first-ever state runner-up finish in the 2011 Class AAA Prep Bowl and a single-season school-record 12 victories.
"Only 89 players in the entire state were chosen to play in the all-star game, so it's quite an honor," said Mahoney. "I consider it quite a privilege to have been able to coach back-to-back selections and two receivers nonetheless."
Ironically, Holm erased three of the Fairmont receiving marks previously held by his all-star predecessor - 2012 selection Adam Schultz. The two-time all-South Central Conference and two-time Sentinel All-Area split end etched his name into the storied program's record book's No. 1 spot in career catches (142), career receiving touchdowns (25) and single-season receptions (60).
"Bryce is not only a first-class player on the field, but he's a first-class student in the classroom, too. He does things the right way," Mahoney said in reference to his academic all-state receiver and 2012 team MVP. "Now, he (Holm) and Carter (Hanson) will get a chance to play on the same team. You couldn't pick two better guys to represent the South Central Conference in the all-star game."
Indeed. The two-time Minnesota Associated Press honorable mention all-state selection from Blue Earth Area shared the 2012 Sentinel All-Area football player of the year award with Buc teammate Kysten Zierke after compiling incredible numbers on both defense and offense last fall.
The three-time all-SCC and three-time All-Area football choice amassed a team-leading 124 tackles and four fumble recoveries to complement three quarterback sacks and one interception during his final prep campaign.
Hanson also generated 593 yards and six TDs on 103 carries from his fullback position on offense, in addition to garnering 10 catches for 161 yards and one score last fall.
"He's very deserving of the honor. Simply put, Carter's a player - he makes things happen on the football field. He's just one of those guys that has a nose for the football," said Kuechenmeister. "If I had to use one word to describe him, it would be 'tough.'
"He's not only a great player, but a great leader on and off the field. It was a great privilege to coach a player of his caliber."
Tickets for the all-star football game will be available at the gate at Husky Stadium in St. Cloud on June 29. Limited pre-game tickets can be obtained by contacting Mat Mahoney at (507) 238-4411.