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Fairmont’s Pooley one of top catches in southern Minnesota

YARDS AFTER CATCH — Fairmont wide receiver Levi Pooley (7) accelerates past a pair of Belle Plaine defenders after catching a pass during high school football action last Friday night at Mahoney Field in Fairmont. Pooley has evolved into one of the top receivers in the southern Minnesota prep ranks. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — Fairmont wide receiver Levi Pooley gives opposing coaches nightmares as they prepare for a football game.

How do they slow him down?

In his first game this season against Tri-City United, Pooley caught five passes for 66 yards, and in Week 2 against Belle Plaine, he caught three passes for 130 yards with two touchdowns.

In two games, Pooley has eight receptions for 196 yards with two touchdowns. He averages four catches and 88 yards per games as the Cardinals are 2-0 on the young season.

Fairmont had big leads in both contests, relegating Pooley to the sidelines to watch his teammates as the Cardinals had the luxury of not playing their starters in the second half of each game.

What makes the 5-foot, 10-inch, 185-pound Pooley so dominant as a wide receiver on the gridiron?

“His route-running is exceptional,” Fairmont head football coach Mat Mahoney said. “He finds the open green space on the field. He has good hands and doesn’t drop passes. He’s always ready to play.”

As a junior, Pooley caught 52 passes for 811 yards with 13 touchdowns, and on defense he had six interceptions, two of which he returned for a touchdown.

“I put in a lot of hard work. I make it a point to not let one defender tackle me,” Pooley said. “I have a strong lower body so defenders have a tougher time tackling me.”

Pooley bench presses 205 pounds and squats 360 pounds.

He says he’s not the fastest runner, but his route-running is precise.

“I run the best routes I can and I’ve had two good quarterbacks the past two years — last year, Brendan Schmidtke, and this year, Blaze Geiger, who throw good passes and are accurate with their throws,” Pooley said. “My favorite route is the go-pattern, but I’m not afraid to go across and middle and get hit when I catch a pass. My adrenaline keeps me going.”

Some of the schools recruiting Pooley are Northern State University, University of Wisconin-Platteville, Drake, Minnesota State University in Mankato and University of Wisconsin-River Falls, along with several other smaller institutions.

“I know I’ll have to put on some more weight when I play in college, study hard, and manage my busy schedule, but I will do it,” Pooley said. “Right now, I want to take my college visits and enjoy my senior year. I can’t believe I’m a senior.”

Pooley set personal goals of gaining at least 2,000 career receiving yards in football and to score 1,000 career points in basketball. He is in striking distance of both.

He also has football team goals of winning a section championship, making it three in a row, and win every home game.

“I would like to reach my goals. We have some great fans and it’s a lot of fun to see the younger kids get excited to see me walk through the gate with my teammates,” Pooley said. “We have good coaches, too, who push us to play our best each week. They watch a lot of game film and give us a game plan each week so we’re ready for our next opponent. Our coaches put in a lot of work to make us better football players.

“We should be a better basketball team this winter and baseball should be exciting.

“My senior year is starting off on the right foot.”

This is the third year he is on the varsity football team. He started his football career playing quarterback as a child.

The 2022 Sentinel All-Area Co-Captain for football also excels on the basketball court and baseball field.

He scored 14.5 points per game on the court, and hit .241 on the diamond with four doubles, one triple, one home run and a team-best 28 RBIs.

The main forcus for the three-sport star is football.

“I like all three sports, but football is my favorite,” Pooley said. “I can’t wait to play in college and I might be red-shirted my freshman year. That would be OK. I would get acclimated to all aspects of college.”

He gets the job done in the classroom, too. He carries a 3.5 grade point average and isn’t quite sure what curriculum to pursue in college, but mentioned it might be in business managment or sports science.

Levi Pooley is the oldest child of JR and Rachel Pooley and has a younger brother, Brayden.

Pooley’s father is a member of Fairmont High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

“I get a lot of support from my parents and my other family members, which helps me push forward,” Pooley said.

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