Fairmont’s Kallenbach captains All-Area football team

ALL-AREA’s BEST — Fairmont Cardinal quarterback Nate Kallenbach scrambles for a long gain during the Section 3AAA football championship game on Nov. 3 in New Ulm. Kallenbach was selected as the 2017 Sentinel All-Area football player of the year for his efforts this season. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — The Fairmont High School Athletic Hall of Fame committee should inquire about obtaining Cardinal senior multi-tasking extraordinaire Nate Kallenbach’s trademark golden football spikes for its trophy case.

Ironically, every aspect of the prep gridiron game that the 6-foot, 170-pound quarterback/cornerback/punter/kicker touched seemed to turn into gold during his esteemed three-year varsity career.

The three-time all-South Central Red District football choice proved a rare quadruple weapon in guiding Fairmont head coach Mat Mahoney’s program to its third Class AAA state appearance during the past 11 years.

“Nate’s a one-of-a-kind player that only comes around once in a while during a coach’s tenure,” said Mahoney. “He was able to do so many positive things for our program from a young age, all the way through his senior season.

“His leadership both on and off the field will be greatly missed.”

The highly-skilled jack-of-all-trades topped the Cardinals in nearly every offensive and kicking category during a recently-completed 9-2 campaign.

Kallenbach completed 165 of 264 passes for 2,287 yards and 24 touchdowns this fall to etch his name into the Fairmont record books for the No. 2 all-time single-season mark in yards through the air and the No. 3 clip in single-season passing TDs.

The strong-armed signal-caller also left his name in Cardinal athletic lore by producing the No. 2 all-time single-game records in passing yards (353) and passing TDs (5) in a regular-season triumph over Jordan on Sept. 8.

The fleet-footed Kallenbach also topped the red-and-white’s ground game with 350 yards and nine TDs on 126 totes this fall.

Kallenbach also averaged a team-best 35.6 yards on 33 punts, including a season-long of 55 yards during Fairmont’s 29-21 triumph over rival Jackson County Central for the Section 3AAA championship on Nov. 3 in New Ulm. Incredibly, only six of Kallenbach’s punts were returned in 2017.

The four-in-one standout also topped the Cardinals’ scoring charts with 93 points, paced by nine rushing TDs, one field goal, 34 of 40 PATs and one 2-point reception to complement four touchbacks in handling the team’s kickoff duties during his final prep season.

“I’ve always been very active ever since I was little,” said Kallenbach. “When Coach (Mahoney) asked me this year if I wanted to play defense, in addition to everything else I do, I said, ‘Sure, why not?'”

The Cardinals’ starting cornerback, who made 21 tackles and one interception this campaign, leaves an indelible mark in the program’s career charts.

Kallenbach closed out his outstanding prep football playing days with 5,425 total yards of offense, including 4,383 through the airwaves, and played a role in 63 total scores, including 46 via the passing game.

The record-book climber generated a staggering 200 career points, highlighted by 87 of 105 PAT kicks for 83 percent accuracy over three campaigns. He also averaged 35.3 yards per punt, including a career-best of 57 set in 2016.

Kallenbach, who drilled six touchbacks in two years of varsity kickoff duty, wraps up a three-year varsity career with an overall record of 22-9 (71 percent) and two other appearances in the Section 3AAA championship contest.

For all of his contributions to the Fairmont Cardinals’ football program, Kallenbach earns his second consecutive Sentinel All-Area football player of the year honor.

Here’s an inside glance at the rest of the 2017 Sentinel All-Area football lineup.

Brady Allen (Fairmont) — The Cardinals’ safety with the Samson-esque hair paced the defensive secondary by recording five interceptions, including a pick-6, and picked off a 2-point conversion to highlight the fall.

The 6-3, 190-pound senior standout also recorded 55 tackles and scooped up a team-leading three fumbles in 2017.

The hard-nosed tight end added 13 catches for 177 yards and two TDs to play a key role in powering the Cardinals to a state quarterfinal appearance and a 9-2 overall record.

Aaron Burmeister (MCW/ML) — The Mavericks’ sure-handed linebacker wreaked havoc in opposing offenses’ backfields by registering a team-best 73 tackles, including 10 for a loss of yards, to complement four fumble recoveries this campaign.

The outstanding blocking fullback rushed 66 times for 217 yards and three TDs to go with six receptions for 111 yards and another score in 2017.

The 6-1, 175-pound senior cleared the path for the area’s top rusher in Thai Risk to close out a solid high school football career.

Logan Ebeling (MCW/ML) — The two-time All-Area selection produced 34 tackles, including seven for a loss of yards, from his interior line position on defense this fall.

The 6-5, 250-pound senior strongman forced four opponents’ fumbles and scooped up two miscues to highlight his defensive skills.

The hard-working offensive tackle opened holes for the area’s leading rusher in 1,000-yard-plus gainer Thai Risk in 2017 to close out his impressive prep career on the gridiron.

Isaac Engeman (North Union) — An injury shortened the all-Iowa Class A, District 2 standout’s junior campaign on the prep gridiron.

The fleet-footed running back still topped the Warriors’ ground game with 671 yards and five TDs on 189 carries this fall.

Engeman, who led North Union in scoring with 32 points, topped the green-and-white defensive charts with 94 1/2 tackles to complement one interception, one fumble recovery and two quarterback sacks on the campaign.

The 6-0, 200-pound Engeman also returned three kickoffs for 40 yards to close out limited playing time in 2017.

Quintin Greier (GHEC/Truman) — The two-time All-Area defensive back collected a team-best five interceptions to complement 19 tackles and four broken-up passes in 2017.

The 5-10, 150-pound senior wide receiver also displayed his sure hands on offense by making 31 catches for 452 yards and five TDs for the Jaguars this fall.

Jordan Huse (Blue Earth Area) — The two-way starting lineman played a key role in guiding the Bucs to the Class AA state quarterfinals this fall.

The 5-10, 200-pound senior defensive tackle recorded 36 tackles, scooped up three opponents’ fumbles, blocked a kick and produced a safety in 2017.

The two-year starting offensive guard provided pass protection and opened holes for a Blue Earth Area offense that generated 2,259 yards and 24 TDs on the ground to complement 1,199 passing yards and seven more TDs.

Rylee McGuire (Blue Earth Area) — The hard-hitting linebacker/defensive end topped the state-qualifying Bucs’ statistical charts by recording 98 tackles this year.

The two-year defensive starter also delivered one quarterback sack and recovered one opponent’s fumble for the Section 2AA champions.

The 5-11, 170-pound senior running back netted 390 yards and four TDs on 104 carries, in addition to making eight receptions for 52 more yards to cap a stellar final prep year.

Trevor Oppedal (Blue Earth Area) — The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers’ preferred walk-on collected 59 tackles, including three and a half quarterback sacks, from his interior defensive line position in 2017.

The two-year, two-way starter played an integral role in engineering the Bucs’ late postseason surge and Class AA state appearance.

The imposing 6-7, 280-pound senior also created running room and pocket protection for a Blue Earth Area offensive unit that amassed 31 TDs and 3,458 total yards this fall.

Wyatt Quiring (Fairmont) — The all-South Central Red District choice evolved into the Cardinals’ top threat through the airwaves in 2017.

The 6-3, 165-pound senior wideout garnered a team-best 62 receptions for 919 yards and 11 TDs to pace Fairmont’s No. 2 seasonal scoring total of 80 points.

The Cardinals’ triple-threat also contributed 24 tackles, one fumble recovery and two interceptions — including one pick-6 — from his cornerback position.

The fleet-footed Quiring also paced the red-and-white special teams by returning 11 kickoffs for 160 yards to complement a dozen punt returns for 135 more yards to cap a brilliant prep career.

Zac Ringnell (Fairmont) — The Cardinals’ outside linebacker produced a team-leading 147 tackles, including seven for a loss of yards, to highlight his first year as a starter.

The all-South Central Red District pick also scooped up two fumbles, blocked two kicks and pocketed one interception this fall.

The 5-7, 153-pound junior defensive stalwart played a key role in helping guide Fairmont to a 9-2 overall record and a Class AAA state bid in 2017.

Thai Risk (MCW/ML) — The 6-0, 180-pound junior two-way starter topped the Mavericks in both the defensive secondary and out of the offensive backfield in 2017.

The hard-sticking Risk collected a team-best four interceptions to complement 29 tackles from his defensive back position this season.

The hard-charging running back topped all area rushers by generating 1,097 yards and nine TDs on 232 carries. Risk also caught five passes for 110 yards and another score.

Risk played clutch roles in helping Martin County West/Martin Luther snap the program’s losing streak en route to two wins, including a sectional victory over Windom Area.

Caelan Sanders (Blue Earth Area) — The sure-handed sophomore safety led the southern Minnesota prep ranks by recording seven interceptions in 2017.

The 5-11, 150-pounder also recorded 28 tackles and garnered one fumble recovery to pack punch to his impressive defensive resume.

The Bucs’ triple-threat made 19 catches for 252 yards and two TDs to go with 29 carries for 164 more yards and another score.

Sanders, who lettered as a special-teams phenom kicker as a freshman, returned nine kickoffs for 164 yards to complement seven punt returns for 68 more yards.

Sam Schwieger (Fairmont) — The repeat All-Area selection displayed his steady hands as a valuable two-way starter during the 2017 campaign.

The 6-2, 175-pound senior wide receiver placed No. 2 on Fairmont’s statistical charts with 31 catches for 470 yards and five TDs this year.

The honorable mention all-South Central Red District choice also finished second in the Cardinals’ defensive secondary with four interceptions to complement one fumble recovery and 50 tackles to cap a stellar three-year varsity career.

Carter Spear (GHEC/Truman) — The 6-1, 180-pound sophomore stepped in for an injured Derek Shoen in the Jaguars’ backfield and delivered solid numbers this fall.

The hard-running Spear chalked up 569 yards and three TDs on 105 rushes to literally carry the offensive payload this season.

Spear also made four receptions for 54 yards and another score as a part-time receiver.

Collin Steuber (Fairmont) — The two-time All-Area choice produced the Cardinals’ No. 2 tackle total of 95, including a team-best five quarterback sacks for a minus 41 yards, to round out his final prep gridiron campaign.

The all-South Central Red District middle linebacker also garnered two interceptions and recovered one opponent’s fumble from a defensive perspective.

The 6-3, 185-pound senior guard — who also caught a 25-yard TD pass as a tight end — supplied hole-opening blocking and pass protection for a high-octane offense that amassed 3,651 total yards while allowing only 11 sacks in 11 games.

Parker Stevens (GHEC/Truman) — The two-time All-Area offensive lineman provided solid pass protection and opened holes for the ground game during his final prep campaign.

The 6-0, 235-pound senior played an integral role for a Jaguars’ offense that tallied 2,381 total yards and 21 TDs on the season.

Derek Thompson (North Union) — The all-Iowa Class A, District 2 selection topped the Warriors with two interceptions on defense and 10 kickoff returns for 178 yards on special teams this season.

The four-year varsity starter also delivered 28 tackles and recovered one fumble from his linebacker/defensive back spot.

Thompson carried 109 times for 492 yards and four TDs to go with four catches for 30 yards from his running back position.

The 5-9, 195-pound senior two-way starter finished second on North Union’s scoring charts with 30 points, including a team-leading six 2-point conversions.

Conner Tordsen (Fairmont) — The Cardinals’ most improved player registered 25 tackles, including a pair of quarterback sacks for a loss of 20 yards, from his defensive line position in 2017.

The all-South Central Red District selection also handled Fairmont’s snapping duties at center for an offense that generated 3,651 total yards and scored at a 30.5-point clip.

The 6-4, 215-pound senior two-way starter played an integral role in guiding the Cardinals to a 9-2 overall record and an appearance in the Class AAA state quarterfinals this season.

Jacob Vaske (Blue Earth Area) — The sure-handed two-way starter delivered numerous pivotal plays to help steer the Bucs to a Class AA state quarterfinal appearance this fall.

The three-year starting wide receiver topped Blue Earth Area by pocketing 37 catches for 453 yards and a pair of TDs in 2017.

The 6-3, 185-pound senior standout registered 64 tackles and recovered one fumble from his starting safety spot on defense.

Colby Williamson (MCW/ML) — The Mavericks’ defensive secondary standout pick-pocketed three interceptions and chalked up 41 tackles as a cornerback/linebacker this fall.

The 6-0, 165-pound senior delivered a critical pickoff during the Section 3AA quarterfinals to help guide Martin County West/Martin Luther to a 21-14 victory over Windom Area.

The Mavericks’ wide receiver added three receptions for 45 yards to close out his solid prep football career.

Jordan Wolter (Fairmont) — The honorable mention all-South Central Red District choice recorded the Cardinals’ third-best tackle total — 80 — from his outside linebacker spot this fall.

The 5-7, 140-pound junior also garnered one interception and recovered one opponent’s fumble to help guide Fairmont to a Class AAA state quarterfinal appearance this season.

The sure-handed Wolter also contributed 176 yards and three TDs on 43 carries in part-time duty out of the red-and-white’s offensive backfield during the last half of the regular season and the entire four-game postseason run.

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