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home : sports : sports Sunday, November 19, 2017

11/17/2012 Email this articlePrint this article 
Nine players earn all-district honors for Rebels

By Ross Eberhart
Sports editor

The wins might not have been there for the Northeast football team this fall, but the talent was, as evident by the recently released all-district team for 2A district 4.

The Rebels had nine players honored on the squad, including a pair of first-team selections - Ben Hildebrandt and Matt Lorenzen.

Seniors Dylan Ploog and Cole Dickey as well as junior Tevin Stoecker were named to the second team, while Brady Eberhart and Jake Nelson were honorable mention selections.

Rounding things out for the Rebels were seniors Tait Wilson and Riley Buech, who were both Golden Award recipients. A Golden Award is presented to athletes, who competed at an all-district level, but had their seasons cut short due to injury.

It seemed fitting that Lorenzen and Hildebrandt would make the first team together as each helped the other to produce impressive senior seasons.

"I'm really happy that both Matt and Ben were selected to the first team because one doesn't have the year he has without the other," Northeast head coach Ryan Unruh said.

No player in Rebel history has more receiving yards or touchdowns than Hildebrandt, who broke both records this season.

The receiver finished his senior season with 36 catches for 720 yards (Hildebrandt averaged 20 yards per catch) and seven touchdowns. The number of catches tied a school record and the 720 receiving yards was over 100 more than the previous mark set all the way back in 1971.

"Ben was both a deep threat (Hildebrandt's longest touchdown covered 80 yards) for us and a nice possession receiver," Unruh said. "If we needed a play on offense we went to him."

For his career, Hildebrandt caught 69 passes for 1,270 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is currently the only Northeast football player to have more than 1,000 receiving yards.

"Ben ran great routes and he was able to pick up a lot of yards after the catch," Unruh said. "He had a great career for us."

On defense, Hildebrandt played safety and finished the year with 19 tackles and an interception for the Rebels.

Last fall, Lorenzen was out running routes next to Hildebrandt as a receiver; this year, he was the one passing the ball to receivers.

As the Rebel quarterback, Lorenzen attempted 146 passes and completed 70 of them. Seven of Lorenzen's completions turned out to be touchdowns (all to Hildebrandt).

For the season, the senior amassed 1,248 yards through the air, breaking the previous school record of 1,131 yards set in 1990.

"Matt always seemed to find the open man," Unruh said. "And no matter who he was throwing to, it was always a tight spiral."

Lorenzen was always a threat to run the ball as well and picked up a touchdown on the ground, while also scoring the deciding two-point conversion in the Rebels' win over North Cedar.

"He's a tough-nosed kid," Unruh said. "There were times during the year where he decided to put the team on his back.

"He definitely led by example."

There are not many quarterbacks who also play middle linebacker, but that is where Lorenzen spent the second half of the season after beginning the year as the Rebels' strong safety.

Lorenzen finished fourth on the team with 50 tackles (24 solo) and had two of the tackles be for loss, while also intercepting a pass and recovering a fumble.

"Matt played middle linebacker on defense and you don't want to see your quarterback get beat up, but I wasn't worried," Unruh said. "He's a tough kid."

Lining up next to Lorenzen in the Rebels' linebacking corps was Ploog.

Even though a bit undersized (5-10, 160 pounds), Ploog was always around the ball for the Northeast defense and the numbers back it up.

Ploog led the Rebels with 78 tackles (28 solo), a total which was nearly 20 tackles higher than the next Northeast defender.

"Dylan was all over the field," Unruh said. "He just doesn't stand still, he's always on the move to the ball."

Ploog had two tackles for loss as well and gave Northeast another boost by starting on its offensive line.

"Being undersized never mattered to him," Unruh said of Ploog. "He probably had the biggest motor on the team and he had an outstanding senior season."

A third member of the Rebels' linebacking group also earned all-district in Dickey.

The senior started the season at middle linebacker and then moved to the outside midway through the season.

The move paid off as Dickey finished second on the team in tackles with 61 (25 of those tackles were solo stops).

"Cole was inside for us when Coach Terry Daniels suggested we move him to the outside, so he can see more of the action," Unruh said. "Cole was so much more comfortable on the outside, he really came along at the end of the season."

Dickey had two tackles for loss and also recovered a fumble for the Rebels. On offense, the senior played fullback and gained 15 yards on limited carries.

To top things off, Dickey handled kickoffs for most of the season, averaging 37.9 yards per boot, and was the Rebels' punter during the second half of the season with another 37 yard average to his credit.

"Offensively, we wanted to run him more than we did, but with his size and blocking ability, we used him more to block," Unruh said. "Between defense and offense and then his work on special teams, we had a lot to ask of Cole and he came through."

Dickey was not the only jack-of-all-trades at the Rebels' disposal as Stoecker - the lone junior to earn all-district honors for Northeast - also fit the bill.

As the Rebels' free safety, Stoecker finished the year with 43 tackles, including a team-high 29 solo stops.

The junior also proved to be a turnover-forcing machine as he accounted for nearly half of the Rebels takeaways with four interceptions (good for a tie among all district players) and two fumble recoveries.

"Tevin was really solid from his free safety spot," Unruh said. "He tied for first in interceptions in the district and he could have had more - he had eight pass break-ups."

On the offensive side of the ball, Stoecker carried the ball 93 times and picked up 271 yards on the ground with a team-best two touchdowns.

Stoecker was also a part of the Rebels' passing game, finishing second behind Hildebrandt in both receptions (11) and yards (193).

The junior was also a big part of the Rebels' special teams. He punted for the first part of the season, averaging 37.6 yards on his kicks and then did the long snapping during the second half of the season. Stoecker also booted a pair of point after tries for the Rebels and his lone kickoff attempt traveled 46 yards.

Stoecker was also the Rebels' return man and finished third among all district players with 510 kick return yards with a touchdown against Dyersville Beckman.

"Tevin was our kick returner, our punt returner, our punter, our snapper, our extra point kicker and our leading rusher," Unruh said. "He's such an all-around athlete that we could have put him in any spot."

The job of opening up holes for Stoecker and the other members of the Northeast backfield fell on Eberhart and Nelson.

The two started the year as the Rebels' guards before Eberhart moved to center midway through the season.

"Brady and Jake were the strength of our line both offensively and defensively," Unruh said. "Brady started at guard, but we moved him around and he became the anchor in the middle.

"With Jake and his athleticism, we knew we wanted him to be doing the pulling and trapping for us."

The two seniors also provided a boost on the defensive line.

Eberhart finished fifth on the team with 48 tackles (18 solo) with three being for loss and one fumble recovery. Nelson added 40 tackles of his own (14 solo) with a tackle for a loss.

"They were reliable guys in the middle of our line," Unruh said. "Not many teams ran up the middle against us."

The Rebels would have received a nice lift from Buech and Wilson, but unfortunately the season ended early for both players.

Buech was a captain for the Rebels and was another receiving threat for Lorenzen (he had three catches for 49 yards) in the offense. On defense, Buech was a member of the Northeast secondary where he recorded seven tackles and recovered a fumble.

"Riley is a great athlete and he worked very hard during the off-season, so it was very tough to see his season end early," Unruh said. "I think he would have had a big year for us."

Wilson also proved to be a tough loss for the Rebels. The senior played cornerback and recorded 11 tackles and recovered a fumble for the Northeast defense.

On offense, Wilson caught a pair of passes for 72 yards and was also one of the Rebels' top blocking receivers.

"Tait did a very nice job offensively - he was a good blocker for us - and he is a very smart kid so we could have moved him to different spots and not worried about it," Unruh said. "Tait was also our long snapper on special teams and he was perfect on the year, so it was tough to lose him there as well."

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