Spotlight on Class D-2 Eight Man football's Premier Linemen - 2019

Mullen and Johnson-Brock battle in last years Class D-2 State Championship game at Memorial Stadium.

It has been a ton of Fridays since I’ve seen talent in the trenches like the 2019 crop of Class D-2 Eight Man football presents in 2019. Good lord! I can safely say in many cases it’s never been a better time to be a running back then the present in this class.

I actually think I could pull off a double-digit gain with some of these guys in front of me…………..dream on old man.

*Kyle Golay-Lawrence-Nelson (OC/NG), 6-2, 275, Senior - Strongest man in Eight Man football, I say. Already an All-State lineman two times and if you watch this dude during warmups, you’d swear he was in slo-mo. Oh, what a mistake it would be to assume Mr. Golay wasn’t going to play hard. Bad assumption Bubba. My goodness, what a player.

It’s actually senseless to put a defender (NG) directly across the line from Golay when he’s centering the ball for Lawrence-Nelson (unless it’ Dylan Wemhoff of HSF), because your defense would simply be minus a potential tackler. Kyle created so many openings for graduated QB Lane Heikkinen a year ago, Lane will be treating him to dinners for years to come.

On defense, Golay stripped away blockers, one, two at a time on his way to 75 tackles, 13 TFL and of course 10 of those 13 tackles for losses were crushing QB sacks. And like any high caliber player, Kyle Golay alters nearly every single play the opposition runs in the course of a game. If you see him live, you will catch my drift on that statement. He’s everywhere an not many 275 dudes can pull that off.

If this guy doesn’t play football at the next level and excel, it will be his choice not to continue his gridiron career. I think Golay is flirting with D1 status.

*Dylan Wemhoff-Humphrey St. Francis (OG/NG), 6-1, 260, Senior (#55) - I have to tell you, the entire Class D-2 field has to be a little uneasy knowing St. Francis has two lineman the caliber of Dylan Wemhoff and Kolbe Classen to go with an already three year starter in All-State QB Trevor Pfeifer. Nothing unusual for the Flyers though.

As for Dylan Wemhoff, the man could be an All-State choice on either side of the ball and is especially rock solid in that O-Line. All over the field on defense and good at engulfing running backs and driving them into the St. Frans artificial turf.

Also remember that Wemhoff fought through injuries during most of the 2018 season and still managed to be a monster football talent. It appears that some surgery after the season will have the big guy ready and rarin’ to go fo 2019. Kind of scary, isn’t it?

*Evan Foltz-Humphrey St. Francis (FB/TE/LB), 6-2, 230, Senior (#25) - Have to give Evan a mention in the linemen section for his superior play at the tight end position. Vicious blocker in that traditional St. Frans double tight end set and ditto when Foltz lines up a the fullback slot. Just destroys defenders with his steamrolling blocks.

It’s can be a bit overwhelming for defenses to see a 6-2, 230 pound Evan Foltz at TE on one side of that St. Frans O-Line then move your eyes down the line and spot a 6-2, 215 pound Kolbe Classen on the opposite end. Problem with that is you’ll be wondering if both are going to be blockers or one is going to sneak away for a touchdown reception.

*Kolbe Classen-Humphrey St. Francis (OL/DE), 6-2, 215, Senior (#80) - In common laymen’s terms, Kolbe Classen is just a royal pain in the patootie to opposing offenses. No. 80 is just always in the way, making a mess of an offensive play whether it be a run, screen pass, or, well you name it.

Often times it would be Classen and the graduated Braden Freudenburg at the D-Ends, or Classen and leading tackler Landon Kush (also graduated), or Classen and Evan Foltz as the bookends. In all of these formations, Kolbe Classen seemed to be the “sit back, seek, and destroy” man, just waiting for the play to develop so he could blow it up. Dude is good at that, really good.

On offense, Classen is a solid, crisp blocker who stays with his man until the ball carrier is in the clear. Holy Moly, going to have to call these three St. Francis dudes “The Flyer Fryers”, a fitting name for all the defenders they burn to a crisp on the gridiron.

Yeah, Kolbe Classen, Evan Foltz and Dylan Wemhoff…...“The Flyer Fryers.” I like it.

*Branson Darveau-Falls City Sacred Heart (OL/LB), 6-1, 205, Senior - You will see this man’s name repeated in my Class D-2 Premier Linebackers section, but since Branson is considered a O-Lineman, we need to give him some pub here. Two things you need to know about Mr. Darveau. Doug Goltz started this kid as a freshman and Branson can run a 4.65 forty yard dash. No, I’m not losing it. Remember, Darveau is 205 pounds, not 255 pounds, but when he hits or blocks you, it may seem like 255…..a lightning quick 255.

*Kien Martin-Overton (OL*/DL*), 6-0, 260, Senior - Talk about a guy that works hard in practice and in that Overton Eagles weight room. Be difficult to find one more dedicated to his craft than Kien Martin. Hey, I’m not saying that guys like Ryan Lauby don’t work hard, I’m not that foolish, but Martin’s work ethic is superior and it shows on Friday nights.

Here is a man that could be an All-State selection on offense or defense. Incredibly powerful blocker on offense and a man that often times clears an opening for his classmate Ryan Lauby. On defense, Martin made 76 tackles, had a monstrous 16 TFL, of which 9 were QB sacks. The Big M also caused 3 fumbles, recovered 2 of those and blocked a punt for good measure

I dread to think what must be going through a young quarterback’s mind when he sees Kien Martin lined up at nose guard and Ryan Lauby revving up the engines directly behind him to pack that 1-2 Martin/Lauby knockout punch. Those two hombres had 173 tackles and 25 TFL between them in 2018.

Oh, nearly forgot to tell you Kien Martin does all the kick-offs for Coach Paul Hueskinvelt, averaging 42 yards and boot with 10 touchbacks in 60 kicks.

*Ty Kvanvig-Mullen (FB/DE), 6-3, 215, Senior - Lean, mean tackling machine. Most teams will remember Kvanvig as that No. 42 with the club wrap on his hand. Soft club wrap and all, the incessant pursuit of Ty Kvanvig resulted in a monsterous 122 tackles, of which 89 were solo crunches. Yes, 89. They are taught to tackle up there in Bronco country and thanks to former Head Coach and Hall of Famer Mike Brown, those Mullen boys still know how tackle. You played for Brownie, you knew how to block an tackle, period.

Mullen played 13 games in 2018 and Ty Kvanvig had double digit tackles in 7 of those.

Now, on offense Ty will have to play a bigger role than when the great Lane Edis was around. Last year Kvanvig would line up as the FB and mow people down for Lane. We’ll see how things play out with new Head Coach and former Mullen great, Wade Marsh.

This man Ty Kvanvig, is a solid, top notch to be an All-State selection this season for the Broncos.

*Clayton Hassett-Mullen (OL/DL), 6-2, 230, Senior - Before you start feeling sorry for Lane Edis depleted Mullen, consider that 2018 All-Stater Clayton Hassett and Ty Kvanvig combined for 254 tackles and 21 crunching “how-do-you-do’s” for losses behind the scrimmage line.

Hassett can boast of being one of the finest big men in an incredibly deep Class D-2 pool of phenomenal linemen. And, if you think this man cannot run you down if you have a football in your hand, you are sadly mistaken. I’ve seen Hassett play live and in color 4 or 5 times and the dude is fast and yes, can run ya’ down from behind.

We’re talking 132 tackles in 2018 with an unimaginable 91 solo stops and 10.5 TFL. On offense, someone had to create those openings fo Lane Edis last year. And lest you forget, Lane gained 2,864 yards a year ago. Clayton Hassett can head ‘em up and move ‘em out as a blocker on offense for sure. Just ask Lane Edis.

*Sloan Lenard-Falls City Sacred Heart (OL/DL), 6-2, 250, Senior - Big dude, although Lenard is not a mammoth as a 6-5, 290 pound Bryant Jorn-type O-Lineman, the kid is a good sized Sacred Heart guy that will the mainstay of both offensive and defensive lines for legendary Head Coach Doug Goltz this coming season.

Sloan Lenard, just like all those who came before him, are expected to be excellent pass and run blockers on offense and plug up the middle in that Irish defensive front. Mr. Lenard gets two giant checkmarks on both of those counts. And if you are not already figuring it out, not many defenders get by Lenard or stay upright if he’s run blocking ‘em.

On defense, Sloan was a starter a year ago and will be the same force anchoring that Irish defensive front. In 2019

*Josh Klabenes-CWCE (OC/NG), 6-4, 275, Senior - This is a very large human being friends. Really vicious blocker offensively and a ball hawker on that Renegade defense. Created openings for 942 yard rusher Wyatt Wagner and protected sophomore Cole Duba when he came in at QB. Both Wagner and Duba return for 2019 and are more than happy Klabenes is back in town.

Josh was ripping things up and ripping people apart in 2018 until tearing an ACL (Cedar Valley game?) after playing 7 games. Still, the quick-moving Klabenes registered 47 stops, 9 TFL, and recovered 3 fumbles, taking one in for a 4 yard TD against Elgin/Pope John.

No worries about this dude and his ACL in 2019. I hear he is fully recovered and ready to rumble when Hartington-Newcastle rolls into town in 12 days.

*Gage Switzer-Clearwater/Orchard (OL/DL), 6-2, 215, Senior - All-District O-Line blocker extraordinaire for last years Cyclones. Switzer did a terrific job opening spaces for El Macke and Joel Long, plus providing pass protection for QB Chris Kester. Well, Long and Kester are gone and so are All-District linemen Ryan Wilhelm, Tommie Peed and Zack King, but Macke is back and Gage Switzer is there to spring him for a thousand yards in 2019..

On defense, the Cyclones will also miss the three fellas mentioned above, who collectively made 142 stops. Also missing is Clay Thiele, who recorded a monster 92 tackles and 16 TFL. So that opens the door for Mr. Switzer, who had 27 tackles in 2018.

I can safely predict that Gage will probably double his tackles and his 2.5 TFL. The Renegades expecting big things from Switzer and I say number 7 will come through with flying colors.

*Alexis Solorzano-Osmond (OC/NG), 6-0, 190, Senior - When you weigh 190 pounds and play the Center position on offense and nose guard on the other side, you must do three things; have great technique, have no fear and play with a big heart. This is Alexis Solorzano, the All-District Osmond Tiger product.

In 2018, Solorzano was a terror on defense for the 7-3 Tigers, making 100 tackles, of which 58 were solo stops. He also led the Tiger defense with 9 TFL, had four sacks, caused 4 fumbles and recovered 4 fumbles. Alexis is a relentless pursuer on defense, sliding down the line then tracking down the ball carrier and making the tackle.

Alexis was at his best against Plainview last year when he made 25 tackles, had a sack and forced a fumble.

On offense, Solorzano was rock solid at his Center slot, always getting the ball back to the QB. The dude just didn’t miss as a snapper in that shotgun formation and that is critical.. He is an extremely consistent blocker and the fact Anthony Heiman gained 1,698 yards rushing means someone in that Osmond line had to be creating openings.

And I like what had coach Scott Morrison said about this young man. “Alexis is a fun young man to work with with.” First and foremost, he is a quality individual. On the field he is physical and keeps his emotions under control.”

I’ll bet you’d take a dozen Alexis Solorzanos, right Coach Morrison?

*Reed McFadden-Sandhills-Thedford (OG/C/MLB), 5-10, 200, Junior - Pancake king of the Panhandle for sure (42). McFadden was instrumental in helping clear the way for 1,708 yard rusher, Cauy Pokorny a year ago. McFadden is just one of those offensive lineman that plays rough and tough at only 200 pounds.

McFadden has started since he was a freshman and has become the ring leader in that Knights O-Line. Reed was also a force a middle linebacker for Coach Josh Deines, registering 55 tackles for his 8-2 Sandhills-Thedford team in 2018.

No reason at all not to expect that and a lot more in 2019 from this outstanding Knights talent.

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