By Becca Neuger
The Mound Westonka High School football team celebrated another memorable season at an awards banquet Nov. 18 at the Lafayette Club.
Head coach Nick David opened the banquet by saying, “I am very proud of and thankful to all of the players, coaches, water boys, student managers, cheerleaders, parents, fans, game workers, and all others that helped make the 2018 Mound Westonka White Hawks football season a memorable one.”
The varsity team finished 6-3 this year, losing two of its games by a combined 7 points. “It was truly a season to remember with several games that had our fans at the edges of their seats during the entirety of the game,” David said. “The passion and emotion that this team played with was second to none.”
David took time at the banquet to recognize his fellow varsity coaches: Mike Wallace, Jared Chapman, Brian Ibs, Doug Runke, Zac Coauette, Kurt Bowe, Kellen Kersten, Colin Charlson, Jackson Rynda, Mike Schwartz, Joe Toth and Tyler Eidsness. He also recognized the seventh- and eighth-grade coaching team of Josten Coleman, Eddie Kutz, Jake Saatzer, Eric Rodelius, Jordan Taylor and Jason Tuttle, as well as the Westonka Youth Football coaches.
“These coaches did a terrific job of preparing our team for game days and getting our players to understand that there is so much more to football in what it can teach you than just the X’s and O’s,” David said. He also gave special thanks to his wife, Melissa, and the entire “Coaches’ Wives Club.”
White Hawks Earn All-District Honors
White Hawks student-athletes received several Twin City Football District awards. Junior Isaiah Dempsey (TE/DE) and seniors Alex Farwell (OLB/TE), Esteban Fernandez-Armstrong (OL/DL), Jose Gonzalez (OL/DL), Luke Holmen (DB/WR) and Kris Kurtz (RB/LB) earned All-District honors for their performance on the gridiron this season. Dempsey was also named Twin Cities Gold Subdistrict Defensive Lineman of the Year. Four other players—seniors Thomas Elliott (TE/DL), Sam Kerr (OL/DL), Zach Simmons (DB/WR) and Ben Wulf (OL/DL)—were All-District Honorable Mention selections.
In addition to his All-District recognition, Kurtz was selected to play in the Minnesota High School All-Star Football Game as a linebacker. The captain and team MVP finished his White Hawks football career with 193 total tackles, 30 TFLs, six QB sacks, five interceptions, 19 receptions for 221 yards, and 398 yards rushing on 69 attempts. Kurtz also scored five touchdowns (one defensive) during his career. He was a standout on special teams, holding down the long snapping duties the past three seasons. Kurtz is planning to continue his education and football career at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota next fall. The All-Star game will take place on Saturday, Dec. 15 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Pride on Display
In addition to stats recorded under the Friday night lights, the players’ efforts off the field were given equal recognition at the banquet. Individual players were recognized by their coaches for their efforts in practice and in the weight room, for volunteering with the youth football program and for being positive role models in the community.
Kurtz was selected to the Individual Class 4A Academic All-State Football Team. He carries a 3.88 cumulative GPA and excelled on the football field this past season.
Kerr was named to the All-District “Why We Play” Team for exhibiting the following qualities: true love for football; commitment and loyalty to school, team and community; willingness to sacrifice for the team; integrity; courage of convictions; goal-oriented approach; sharp focus and strong competitive drive; excellent work ethic; willingness to accept challenges; mental toughness; strong football skills; and strong leadership.
The Iron Man Award, which recognizes hard work in the weight room, went to junior Adam Nobs. Also earning lifter of the year awards were freshman Cris Christensen, sophomore Michael Nolen and Simmons.
Among the multiple team awards given out by coaches at the banquet was the White Hawks PRIDE Award. This award is given annually to the player who displayed the most Purpose, built strong Relationships, Improved Daily, showed Discipline and gave high Effort/Energy throughout the season. This year’s award went to senior Luke Rogers. “[Rogers] cares deeply for all of those around him and is one of the most selfless young men I have ever met,” said David.
New Leaders Chosen
The team had 21 seniors and two foreign exchange students who played their final season of White Hawks football this year. This year’s senior class helped win 30 varsity games during their four years, which was more varsity wins than any other senior class at MWHS.
The coaches gave special recognition to graduating seniors Andrew Abegglen, Ben Bernal, Jack Dioszeghy, captain Sam Dufault, Elliott, Farwell, Fernandez-Armstrong, Gonzalez, Hokkanen, Holmen, Logan Holmgren, Kerr, Kurtz, Ryan Lezer, Dylan O’Flanagan, Drew Roberts, Rogers, Simmons, Shane Stevenson, Ryan Thompson and Wulf. They also bid farewell to foreign exchange student Felipe Ould Sidi Mahmoud, who joined the White Hawks from Germany this season, and to Magnus Urth, who came to MWHS from Denmark.
“I cannot say enough great things about these boys or thank them enough for their contributions these past four years,” David said of the 2018 senior class.
David noted that this group of seniors was “extra special” to him because they were among the first students he had as dean of students at Grandview Middle School. “I remember talking with [Grandview Principal Christine] Zachow and coach Bowe a lot throughout my first year about how this was going to be the group of boys that changed the football culture at Mound Westonka, and they did exactly that, being a part of four winning teams, three district championships and a playoff win,” said David.
Next year’s team captains, named at the banquet, are Isaiah Dempsey and Cameron Oates. The White Hawks also have six underclassmen that will be a part of the Leadership Council next year: sophomores Tucker Anderly, Trent Bowe and Logan Leonard and freshmen Jake Gaylord, Cooper Kantola and Tyler Von Bank.
“We will look to these eight players to lead us as we continue on with the process of building a championship football program here at Mound Westonka,” said David.