Although the Prairie City-Monroe football team was defeated in the first round of the playoffs and the Collins-Maxwell-Baxter football team fell one point shy of reaching them, both teams got plenty of validation for their seasons with the release of the Class 2A District 6 all-district teams.
Between the two teams, 23 players were named to all-district teams, with the Mustangs placing 11 and the Raiders placing 12. Five of the players, PCM’s Ethan Kain (wide receiver) and Justin Beener (linebacker) and CMB’s Zach Huffaker (running back), Tim Thalacker (linebacker) and Joe Nissen (kicker), were unanimous picks at their respective positions.
Leading CMB’s offensive attack all season was junior first-team quarterback Zach Samson. Recording more than 3,000 total yards from scrimmage (1,915 passing and 1,090 rushing) and 30 touchdowns (18 passing and 12 rushing), Samson was the definition of a dual-threat quarterback.
The Raiders’ skill players were no slouches either, however, as Huffaker earned unanimous first-team running back honors with 656 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns to go along with 562 receiving yards and two additional scores. His resurgence in the season came against Interstate 35 on Sept. 28, when he ran for 222 yards and five touchdowns. He was also fifth on the team with 50 tackles and led the team with three interceptions on defense.
After suffering a sprained neck and a concussion in the Raiders’ first home game on Aug. 31, Kemp managed to return to field and grab first-team honors at wide receiver. Kemp, a sophomore, finished the year as the Raiders’ top receiver with 712 yards and nine touchdowns, which were also good for second and third in the district. Kemp also had a flare for the big play, with his longest touchdown coming from 75 yards out.
Leading the Raider offensive line that landed four players on various lists is senior Darrien Sadler, who was selected to the first team for his contributions in the trenches. Fellow offensive linemen Patrick Girard (second team) and Nick Carroll and AJ Flora (honorable mention) were also recognized for their work, which often stretched to both sides of the ball.
Despite missing the final game of the season, Thalacker led the Raiders and the district with 103 total tackles to earn his unanimous first-team recognition. The senior recorded 66 solo tackles, four of which went for a loss, and had one interception on the year.
The Raiders’ final first team selection is the sophomore Nissen, who gave his teammates the luxury of a dependable kicker throughout the year. Nissen converted a district-leading 40-of-42 extra point attempts and also led the district with 2,104 kickoff yards and six touchbacks.
Other second-team selections for CMB include senior Riley Wattonville at running back and junior Austin Moorman at wide receiver. Despite missing a number of games with a hand injury, Moorman finished seventh in the district and third on the team with 470 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Wattonville finished the year with 286 yards and four touchdowns on the ground and also finished sixth on the team with 49 total tackles.
Rounding out the Raiders’ all-district selections is senior Zach Hartgers (defensive back), who was given honorable mention. Hartgers kept busy on the defensive side of the ball, racking up two interceptions and two fumble recoveries while finishing with 43 total tackles. He was also the team’s fourth-leading receiver with 118 yards and a touchdown.
The Raiders finished the season 4-6 overall and 3-3 in the district. Their season came to an end when a blocked extra point against Davis County gave them a six-point win when they needed to win by seven to get into the playoffs.
Leading the way for PCM’s first-team selections was Kain, who was the district receiving leader by more than 200 yards with a total of 929 and 13 touchdowns, which also led the district. That total also put him fourth in Class 2A and 22nd overall in the state.
Kain didn’t just make an impact on the offensive end, however, as his five interceptions at defensive back led the team and was second in the district. He also led the district with 539 kick return yards with an average of 23.4 yards per return.
The Mustangs’ other unanimous pick was Beener, a junior, at linebacker. He finished second on the team with 74 total tackles, 46 of which were solo and four went for loss, as well as one interception.
Joining Beener on the first team is senior Colten Jenkins, who was recognized as a defensive lineman. Jenkins placed fourth on the team with 58 total tackles, with 37 of those being of the solo variety. His standout number is his 11 solo tackles for loss, which put him in a tie for the lead in the district in that category.
Plenty more Mustang defenders could be found on the second team, including the team’s leading tackler, junior Blake McWilliams. After recovering from an injury earlier in the season, McWilliams finished the year with 81 total tackles, one interception and two fumble recoveries. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 404 yards and six touchdowns.
Fellow defenders Zach Uhlenhopp (defensive back) and Brandon Charls (defensive line) joined McWilliams on the second team. On top of taking over the quarterback reigns late in the season, Uhlenhopp, a junior, finished second on the team with three interceptions to go along with 41 total tackles. He also caught two touchdowns and had 450 yards as a receiver.
Described as a “physical freak” by coach Greg Bonnett, Charls was sixth on the team with 53 tackles in his junior campaign. Six of those tackles went for a loss, and Charls also recorded a 10-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown in the team’s season-opening win over Roland-Story.
Also making the second team were junior offensive lineman Glenn Gillespie and senior quarterback Nate Vande Wall. After maintaining his spot as the state’s second-leading passer through the first few weeks of the year, Vande Wall’s season came to an early end with a foot injury against Albia on Sept. 28. Despite missing the final three regular-season games, Vande Wall still led the district with 1,918 passing yards and 21 touchdowns.
Wrapping up the Mustangs’ all-district choices are senior Michael Neff (tight end), Luke Cummings (defensive line) and senior Hunter Reed (utility), who all were given honorable mention. A big, 6-foot-2 target, Neff finished third on the team with 348 receiving yards to go along with four touchdowns. He also went 16-for-18 on extra points and was a perfect 1-for-1 with a 32-yard field goal as a kicker.
Cummings, a junior, was third on the team with 60 tackles on the defensive line. He split those tackles as 33 were solo and 27 were assisted, but he also added five tackles for a loss. Reed made his presence known all over the field as he saw plenty of snaps on offense, but did most of his damage on defense. Reed finished seventh on the team with 51 tackles and also recorded an interception.
The Mustangs finished the regular season with a 4-6 overall record (3-3 district) and ended their season with a 24-7 loss to Mid-Prairie in the first round of the playoffs.