B.E. Area’s Ehrich, Anderson captain All-Area football team
BLUE EARTH — Max Ehrich rattled opponents’ shoulder pads like thunder, while Cameron Anderson scorched opposing defenders like lightning as the Blue Earth Area Bucs stormed past all seven of its prep football rivals during a coronavirus-condensed season.
Ehrich and Anderson provided South Central White District coach of the year Randy Kuechenmeister’s undefeated gridders with a lethal 1-2 offensive punch on the ground and through the airwaves, respectively, as the Bucs earned the No. 2 spot in the final Minnesota Associated Press’ Class AA state rankings in a “what if?” pandemic-marred schedule in 2020.
Ironically, Anderson and Ehrich took turns in wreaking havoc on Maple River during the two Section 2 powerhouses’ back-to-back clashes to close out the asterisk-laden year.
The sure-handed Anderson made a single-game season’s-best eight catches for 180 yards and two touchdowns to help trigger the Bucs’ 40-0 rout of the Eagles during their regular-season finale on Nov. 11.
The bulldozing Ehrich then pounded through Maple River’s defense for 258 yards and a season’s-best five TDs on 24 carries to pace Blue Earth Area’s 39-12 triumph in the sectional championship game on Nov. 20 at Wilson Field in Blue Earth.
“He (Ehrich) doesn’t just execute the (running) play we call, he runs with a purpose,” Kuechenmeister said in reference to the 5-foot-10, 175-pound senior running back/linebacker. “Max is as intense a player as I’ve ever coached in my time (30 years) here.”
“Cameron’s a game-changer even when he doesn’t have the ball,” Kuechenmeister said in reference to the fleet-footed 6-2, 170-pound senior split end/safety. “Opposing defenses have to account for him at all times during a game. If they don’t, they’re most likely going to give up a big play.”
Anderson, a three-time Fairmont Sentinel All-Area football selection, produced a team-best 27 receptions for a staggering 572 yards and eight TDs to complement 11 carries for 151 yards and three more scores during his limited final prep campaign.
The two-time all-district choice also demonstrated his deft pass-catching skills by garnering a team-best six interceptions from his spot in the Bucs’ defensive secondary.
Ehrich, whose gridiron career was stymied by injuries until 2020, earned a place on the all-South Central White District first team by steamrolling to a Bucs-best 980 yards and 16 TDs on 117 totes this season.
Ehrich established Blue Earth Area’s single-game rushing record by amassing an incredible 308 yards on 34 carries en route to four scores in a Week 2 triumph over eventual Section 3AAA champion Luverne.
The hard-hitting linebacker contributed 18 tackles, one quarterback sack and one interception to a Bucs’ defense that allowed only 10.4 points per game this season.
Anderson closed out his prep football career in style by being selected as the South Central White District’s overall player of the year, while Ehrich shared the district’s offensive back of the year accolades with fellow All-Area choice Gavin Storbeck this fall.
For their valuable and memorable contributions on the high school gridiron, Ehrich and Anderson have been chosen as the Sentinel’s All-Area football players of the year.
Here’s an inside look at the rest of the 2020 Sentinel All-Area football choices.
Eli Anderson (Fairmont) — The South Central Red District defensive back of the year made his presence felt on both sides of the line of scrimmage in 2020.
The first-team all-district cornerback pocketed a team-leading five interceptions to complement 19 tackles during a five-game schedule.
The 6-foot, 160-pound junior split end topped the Cardinals’ receiving charts by making 37 catches for 667 yards and 10 TDs. Anderson produced 14 catches for a career-best 203 yards to go with three scores in a 35-6 rout of Watertown-Mayer on Nov. 20.
The sure-handed Anderson also paced Fairmont in scoring with 60 points, and will be an integral part of the team’s rebuilding project in 2021.
Hudson Artz (Fairmont) — The South Central Red District’s special teams player of the year utilized his sprinter’s speed to deliver seven kickoff returns for 229 yards and a 32.7-yard average, highlighted by a career-best 59-yarder against Marshall in the 2020 season opener.
The first-team all-district linebacker notched the Cardinals’ third-best tackle total (37), including nine for a loss of yards, for a defense that allowed 18.4 points per outing.
The 6-0, 185-pound junior utility back chipped in 24 carries for 84 yards and made 11 receptions for 77 yards and one TD to cap a solid season.
Anders Fering (Blue Earth Area) — The South Central White District’s defensive lineman of the year tallied the two-time sectional champion Bucs’ fifth-best tackle total of 23, including one and a half quarterback sacks, to cap a stellar senior season.
The two-time All-Area selection played a key role in the trenches as BEA’s smothering defense allowed only 10.4 points per game en route to a perfect 7-0 record in 2020.
The 6-3, 220-pound tight end loaned his blocking skills to the Bucs’ juggernaut offensive line that helped generate a staggering 43.9 points per contest and 2,836 total yards in the condensed campaign.
Nick Frank (Blue Earth Area) — The two-time All-Area defensive end chalked up the team’s fourth-highest amount of tackles (25) to help BEA limit opposing offenses to only 10.4 points per game in 2020.
The 6-2, 195-pound senior offensive guard also created running room and pass protection for a Bucs’ offensive unit that amassed 43 TDs en route to the Section 2AA championship.
Matt Heckman (GHEC/Truman) — The first-team all-district 9-Man defensive end recorded 36 tackles, including five for a loss of yards, to provide stability in the Jaguars’ trenches this fall.
The 6-4, 220-pound senior offensive guard/end chipped in two catches, including one for a score, to cap his high school football playing days.
Kean Hicks (Blue Earth Area) — The South Central White District’s special teams player of the year connected on 27 PAT kicks to help the district champion Bucs to a scoring pace of 43.9 points per outing.
The all-district linebacker generated the No. 2 team tackle total of 46, including one quarterback sack, as BEA limited opposing offenses to only 336 passing yards on the season.
The 5-9, 185-pound junior offensive guard will be an integral returning two-way starter for the Bucs in 2021.
Lucas Jagodzinske (Martin County West) — The all-South Central Blue District middle linebacker recorded the Mavericks’ second-best tackle total of 41, including 4.5 for a loss of yards during this year’s abbreviated season.
The 5-8, 160-pound senior utility offensive back delivered pivotal blocks out of the backfield for injury-plagued MCW in 2020.
Cael Jaskulke (GHEC/Truman) — The two-time All-Area defensive end piled up a team-leading 47 tackles, including four for a loss of yards, to cap a stellar senior gridiron season.
The first-team all-district 9-Man tight end also pocketed nine catches for 108 yards to round out his final prep football campaign.
Zach Jorgensen (Fairmont) — The all-South Central Red District choice evolved into a lethal two-way starter during the coronavirus-condensed campaign.
The two-time all-district quarterback topped Fairmont’s statistical charts in both passing and rushing for a second consecutive year.
The two-time All-Area signal-caller completed 67 of 129 passes for 944 yards and 14 TDs, in addition to carrying the football 57 times for 270 more yards and three additional scores in 2020.
The 6-3, 180-pound junior, who netted the team’s No. 2 scoring total (20 points), displayed a strong punting leg by averaging 33.1 yards per kick, including a season-long 46 yards against St. Peter.
Jorgensen, who contributed one interception, recorded a second-best team mark of 41 tackles from his safety spot in the Cardinals’ defensive secondary. He will be an integral cog behind Fairmont’s rebuilding project in 2021.
Gavin Junkermeier (Fairmont) — The all-South Central Red District honorable mention lineman proved one of the unsung heroes in the trenches for the Cardinals during a reduced schedule this fall.
Fairmont’s lineman of the year award winner helped the red-and-white offense generate 1,469 total yards en route to a scoring average of 24.8 points per outing from his guard position.
The 6-3, 200-pound sophomore defensive lineman helped the Cardinals’ defense allow only 113.2 passing yards per game and just 92 points in five games. He will be a key piece in Fairmont’s rebuilding process next fall.
Luke Mertens (Blue Earth Area) — The South Central White District’s offensive lineman of the year provided pass protection and created running room for a Bucs’ unit that collected 2,836 total yards and 43 TDs in 2020.
The two-time All-Area defensive lineman delivered 22 tackles and recovered one fumble for a swarming unit that limited opposing offenses to a miniscule 10.4 points per outing.
The 6-3, 235-pound senior standout supplied outstanding leadership on and off the gridiron to help power BEA to back-to-back Section 2 championships to cap a stellar prep football career.
Kaiden Musser (GHEC/Truman) — The all-district 9-Man honorable mention running back carried 36 times for 100 yards and one TD to go with 10 catches for 106 more yards and another score during 2020.
The 5-11, 175-pound sophomore delivered 33 tackles, including three for a loss of yards, and broke up two passes from his linebacker position this season.
Max Olson (Martin County West) — The all-South Central Blue District defensive lineman topped the Mavericks by recording 43 tackles, including seven for a loss of yards on the strength of 3.5 quarterback sacks this fall.
The 6-3, 205-pound sophomore lineman provided solid blocking and pass protection for an injury-plagued offense during the pandemic-reduced five-game campaign.
Gavin Rodning (Fairmont) — The all-South Central Red District linebacker paced the Cardinals’ defense by recording a team-best 58 tackles, including 24 of the solo variety, to cap the 2020 campaign.
The 5-11, 190-pound junior fullback provided solid blocking out of the backfield to go with 11 carries for 29 yards and three catches for 27 yards and one TD during his second varsity season.
Adam Schavey (Blue Earth Area) — The two-time all-district honorable mention choice recorded the sectional champion Bucs’ No. 1 tackle total with 59 during the coronavirus-condensed campaign.
The two-time All-Area linebacker delivered double-digit stops against Section 3AAA champion Luverne in Week 2 to complement double-figure tackles against Maple River in BEA’s regular-season finale and sectional championship clash.
The 5-11, 190-pound junior standout played an integral role in powering the Bucs to a perfect 7-0 record and the No. 2 spot in the final Minnesota AP Class AA state poll.
Connor Simmonds (Martin County West) — The South Central Blue District defensive back of the year produced the No. 3 tackle total on the Mavericks despite missing one of the program’s five games in 2020.
The three-time All-Area strong safety collected 40 stops, including nine for a loss of yards, to complement one fumble recovery this fall.
The 5-8, 165-pound senior utility back gained 121 yards and scored one TD on just 19 carries to close out an outstanding prep football career.
Gavin Storbeck (Blue Earth Area) — The South Central White co-offensive back of the year lit up the airwaves by completing 57 of 77 passes for an incredible 1,003 yards and 16 TDs during his final prep gridiron campaign.
The two-time All-Area quarterback played a key role in fueling BEA’s staggering 43.9-point scoring clip en route to a 7-0 record and a second consecutive Section 2 championship in 2020.
The 6-1, 180-pound senior merited a second straight selection to the all-district team for his leadership on and off the field.
Austin Thielfoldt (Blue Earth Area) — The South Central White District choice proved one of the unsung heroes behind the scenes of the Bucs’ stampede to an undefeated season and another sectional crown.
The 5-8, 190-pound senior utility back carried eight times for 32 yards and one TD, while catching 10 passes for 96 yards and two more scores in 2020.
The hard-hitting cornerback notched 11 tackles and provided blanket-like coverage on opposing wide receivers to cap a stellar career.
Owen Wolter (GHEC/Truman) — The two-time All-Area quarterback completed 33 of 69 passes for 373 yards and three TDs during his final prep gridiron campaign.
The all-district 9-Man honorable mention pick also gained 260 yards on the ground to go with one TD.
The 5-11, 155-pound safety delivered 16 tackles, one interception and broke up four passes to close out a solid prep football career.