The Herald • Congratulations Jays • December 2010 • 1B


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2B • The Herald • Congratulations Jays • December 2010


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Captains set the tone for ‘Together As One’ season
By JIM METCALFE DELPHOS — When a player is selected team captain, that says something about the respect his or her teammates hold for the person. From putting in the extra time to perhaps being willing to change positions, they are to provide the good leadership a team needs to be successful, in-season and out. When you consider that the St. John’s football team’s motto for 2010 was “Together As One”, that carried much more meaning for this group. The St. John’s football team sent out the senior quartet of quarterback Jordan Leininger, tailback Evan Burgei, left tackle Austin Vogt and free safety Tyler Bergfeld — all key cogs of the 2008 title-winning crew — to represent them in the coin flips all season long. They led in more ways than that. Leininger moved from tailback, where he had been a 2-year starter and rushed for 2,985 yards in 2-plus seasons, to under center to replace 3-year starter Wes Ulm. “I had played quarterback some on varsity as a freshman and I was the backup the last two years, so it wasn’t that big an adjustment. They are two different positions and two difference perspectives, so I had to get used to that all the time,” Leininger began. “The running was a little different; I had to make the quick decisions on the option, for example. However, the biggest difference was the passing game, reading coverages. As I got more comfortable there, Coach (Todd Schulte) got more confident in calling passing plays. I kept getting better at knowing what I was doing.” Burgei also gained a better feel for the position as he moved from defense — a 2-year starter at cornerback — to offense to replace Leininger at tailback. “I’ve been the backup my last two years at tailback, so it really wasn’t that much of an adjustment. I enjoyed playing defense but I didn’t play much there this year; the coaches wanted me to focus on just playing tailback and staying fresh,” Burgei began. “They emphasized that if I was fresher against a tiring defense late in games, I had the advantage. That’s what happened against Ada (a 42-14 victory in the regional semifinals). I was fresher and their defense was tired, so I had two long touchdown runs late in the game. I like having the ball in my hands more. It makes you feel like you’re really contributing more. I like to make plays and be a difference-maker.” Still, it meant certain things had to be done differently in the off-season. “I always knew I had it in me to be a tailback but I had to bulk up a little bit more to take the pounding. I needed to make sure I was in good shape so I could get through the season; I’m pretty beat up now,” Burgei continued. “Fifteen games is a lot of games and I wanted to stay healthy. Not only did I work on my speed and quickness but I also got a lot stronger in the offseason. I got better as the season wore on. Playing tailback in this offense is not only about being strong and fast but it’s also about learning your proper reads, getting a feel for the defense and what they’re doing. As I got more playing time and more reps at practice, I got more comfortable in the position. “As well, we had a great offensive line. I think it will go down as one of the best-ever at St. John’s. They were creating holes all season long and it’s much easier to run when you don’t have to deal with a lot of traffic.” Vogt was asked to play more both ways as a defensive tackle, especially when injuries started to take out some of the D-linemen. “I didn’t mind that at all. I’ve always wanted to play more defense anyway,” he asserted. The coaching staff: Schulte, defensive coordinator Steve

The Herald • Congratulations Jays • December 2010 • 3B

Austin Vogt

Tyler Bergfeld

Evan Burgei never let us look ahead,” Leininger asserted. “You couldn’t have a better feeling “Our coaches did a great job of preparing us well all season. We didn’t have a lot to worry about each week; we were as a high school athlete than winning ready to go,” Vogt chimed in. “For example, (offensive line a state title in your final season.” coach) Coach Desenberg focused a lot on technique. He told – Tyler Bergfeld us that when things got tough and we were tired, technique would be the key. As a group, we’ve been able to develop Recker, Neil Miller, Dave Desenberg, Dan Metzger, Dr. Jerry really good relationships with our coaches.” Last season’s loss in the final five seconds of the state Burgei, Jerry Jackson, Sean Hulihan, Adam Lee, Dick Clark finals weighed heavily on the minds of those returning from and Jay Leininger; came in for high praise. “The coaches are great, too; you can have the most won- that team. “Definitely, we’ve been thinking about playing at state all derful athletes but if you don’t have the coaching, you aren’t going anywhere. They kept us focused on the job at hand and See CAPTAINS, page 6B

Jordan Leininger

Cheerleaders & Mascot
Assistant Coaches: Kneeling, left to right, Adam Lee, Neal Miller, Jay Leininger, Dan Metzger, Jerry Jackson. Row two: Assistant Head Coach Steve Recker, Dave Desenberg, Dick Clark, Sean Hulihan, Jerry Burgei.

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Varsity Cheerleaders: Lexi Miller, daughter of Mark & Christine Miller; Stephanie Metzger, daughter of Cindy Metzger & Carl Metzger; Carissa Shafer, daughter of Andrea Shafer & Jeff Shafer; Samantha Ginter, daughter of Joel & Cindy Moorman & the late Michael Ginter; Taylor Mueller, daughter of Lisa Mueller & Randy Mueller; Meagan Hempfling, daughter of Chuck & Sue Hempfling; Mascot is Payton Curran, son of Michael & Karyn Curran.

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4B • The Herald • Congratulations Jays • December 2010

Title No. 6 comes in dominating fashion
By JIM METCALFE DELPHOS — St. John’s had a chance to capture state football title number six — all in Division VI — last fall. The Blue Jays came up short, dropping a bitter 24-21 decision to first-time champion Norwalk St. Paul in the finals. This season, the Jays got back to the title game and gave no doubts about this championship as they rolled up a 15-0 record. It handed 12th-year head coach Todd Schulte his fourth crown at the helm of the Blue Jay gridders. He added a title to previous ones in his first campaign — a perfect 15-0 in 1999, replacing Vic Whiting; in 2005, when his team went 13-2 and got red-hot in the playoffs; and 2008, when a sophomore-laden lineup ran off the last seven in a row. Last season’s 14-1 state runners-up was also the first second-place trophy in the program’s history. Schulte’s unit fell three times in the state semifinals: 2000, his second season, when the team’s state record 57-game winning streak was sliced by MAC colleague Marion Local (who themselves went on to backto-back titles in Division VI); 2002, when they fell in the swamp at Mansfield to eventual Division V champ Smithville; and 2003, falling to eventual titlist Columbus Gahanna Academy in overtime at Tiffin. Schulte now stands at 127-32 in his 12 seasons, including a 34-5 mark in 39 playoff encounters, for an overall .799 record. He has put together four perfect regular seasons. He continues the job begun by Whiting, who took over in 1988 and laid the foundation for what was to come. His 94-28 mark in 11 seasons included two back-toback Division VI crowns and a 28-0 mark: in 1997 and 1998. His .770 winning percentage included a 10-2 playoff record and a loss to St. Henry in the 1994 state semifinals — the team’s first-ever berth in the state semifinal football round — to end up 12-1. That was the team’s first-ever perfect regular season. That puts the number of team or individual state championships in the school’s history at 23: eight for boys and girls track and field; six for football; five for girls basketball; three in boys hoops; and one in boys golf. The program now stands with a 331-260-3 mark (.557 winning percentage) in 56 campaigns and 594 games. Before Whiting’s tenure, the program had a 110-200-3 mark in 33 seasons. Only one of the previous nine coaches had an over.500 mark: Tom Zimmer (9-8-1) in 1956-57. The coach in the first season of 1955 was Bob Arnzen, finishing 3-4-2. George Rafferty (196571) finished 31-32 (14-10 in




their four years in the TriCounty League, with one title in 1968 and a runner-up the next year) in his stint. Prior to this, the Jays played an independent slate. William Rocco had the next-best mark in his three seasons as head coach (195860) — 12-16-1. Ed Zalar went 15-22 in 1961-64. All those seasons were either in the Tri-County League or as an independent. The Jays entered the Western Buckeye League in the 1972 season with a new head coach, Ray Funk. After resigning after the 1978 season, his mark stood at 19-501 (16-46-1 in the league, with one runner-up in 1977). Rod Moorman, a former player for St. John’s who played collegiately at Toledo, ran the team for five seasons. Three of those were still in the WBL: 2-27-1, including 2-25 in the WBL. The Jays then got into the Midwest Athletic Conference and Moorman went 15-5 for an overall mark of 17-32-1, including 9-3 in the MAC and

a runner-up finish in 1983. Tom McCurdy then was the head man for three seasons (84-86) and amassed a 3-27 mark (1-17 MAC), following by the 1-year 2-8 (0-6 MAC) stint of Tom Sawyer (1987). Whiting took over for the 1988 campaign and began the turnaround. He finished 49-22 in the MAC: four undisputed titles (1998, 1997, 1994 and 1991); one runner-up (1993); and a trichampionship (1989). Schulte has a 71-26 MAC mark with four outright titles: 2010, 2009, 2000 and 1999. All told, the Jays were 14-10 in the TCL; 18-71-1 in the WBL; 122-74 in the MAC; and 39-7 in the second season. This year’s team did it with 14 returning starters, including fourth-year lettermen/starters in left tackle/ defensive tackle Austin Vogt (25 pancake blocks; 13 total stops), free safety/wide receiver Tyler Bergfeld (28 catches, 541 yards, 10 TDs; 23 tackles, 4 picks; 10 kickoff returns, 29.3-yard average, 1 score; 26 punt returns, 7.8-

yard average), right guard/ right defensive end Derek “Dozer” Klaus (15 pancake blocks; 45 solos, 21 assists, 10 sacks, 33 quarterback harassments; 1 pick) and tailback-turned-quarterback Jordan Leininger (162 rushes, 1,234 yards, 12 scores; 83-of158 passing, 1,398 yards, 19 TDs, 3 picks, 162.7 QB rating). Leininger ended up fourth on the school’s career rushing list with 4,219 yards (with a 6.9-yard average) behind Zach Weber, Chad Schulte and Matt Shumaker and became the third-leading scorer with 392, passing Shumaker and trailing Weber and Schulte. Bergfeld ended his career 50 grabs for 1,091 yards and 17 scores, good for sixth, fifth and fourth, respectively, on the Jays’ alltime list. He also now stands second in interceptions for a career with 18, only trailing the 20 of Randy Grothaus. Klaus is now third — behind older brother Rocky — sacks for a season with 10. Among the 21 seniors, six more were in their third seasons of starting, led by center/ See TITLE, page 6B



son of Tom and daughter of Dave Lori Ashby & Jeannette Passmore

Trevor Kroeger

Sabryna Ashby

son of Scott & Lisa

Alex Schnipke

son of Steve & Sandy

Chris Goodwin

Katie Knoderer
daughter of Brian & Ann

daughter of Jim & Diana

Ashley Hoffman

son of Mark & Sherri

Tyler Koester

son of John & Nancy

Jamie Klausing

Kneeling, left to right: Kellen Schoemaeker, J’Dan Risner, Nate Schroeder, Kyle Pohlman, Andy May, Ben Wrasman. Row two: Coach Dick Clark, Tyler Jettinghoff, Cody Looser, Ryan Schumaker, Spencer Ginter, Jason Wittler, Luke MacLennan, Coach Jay Leininger.

SINCE 1928

daughter of Michael & Mary

Meghan Ryba

daughter of Linda Guthrie

Megan Klausing

daughter of Lindsey & Kaye

Sidney Bradley

daughter of Dan & Amy

Dani Hale

Hamburg Pickle On Top! Makes Your Go Flippity Flop!®
Elizabeth at Market Allentown at Cable Bellefontaine at Kibby

Thank you Blue Jay Marching Band for the fantastic entertainment! Charlie & Marg Ashby

Schulte knows his place in Blue Jay football lore
By JIM METCALFE DELPHOS — Winning never gets old. Just ask St. John’s and its football program. The Blue Jays finished off another successful season with a perfect 15-0 mark and the program’s sixth Division VI state title. The man at the helm for four of those titles, 12th-year head coach Todd Schulte (127-32 mark), knows his place in the tradition that has become St. John’s football. He is the main man at the helm but he gets a lot of help. “I know I get my name in the paper and I get the wins and losses but it wouldn’t happen without my assistants. When we talk about team around here, we talk about being a family,” he began. “It starts with the players and coaches that have come before and are here now. They were and are great kids and are respectful. I tell today’s parents all the time that it is the kids’ credit we are in the position we are. The Xs and Os don’t work without the Jims and Joes. It’s the players and coaches that have gone before that have laid a great foundation that I know I am part of trying to maintain and build more. “My whole staff are good men and good coaches; they are as committed to making this team the best it can be week after week as I am. They are great around the kids and they are quality men off the field. They wouldn’t be around if they weren’t. They have sacrificed time with their families and personal time to do this. “We have 21 seniors and these kids have given four years to this program. Several of my coaches have been here longer than I have. My wins and losses don’t happen without their work. I know I can trust them to do their jobs so I can focus on mine. We’ve also worked to establish a good relationship with the players.” Success in any sport has become much more that the physical part, according to Schulte. “Games are won and lost long before you take the field; you’re not just going to step on the field Friday and win games. We as a coaching staff are committed to preparing our players the best we can from watching and breaking down films on Saturday mornings, putting together game plans and scouting reports and work on the field from Monday to Thursdays,” he explained. “I tell people that is where games are won and lost and that is where I and my staff most help our players win; if you don’t practice and prepare well, mentally and physically, that is how you will tend to play. I think that is one of the things I am better at than I was; preparation. There are things I used to think were important that I don’t anymore and others that I didn’t think were important then that I do now. “Each of us tries to do things — camps, clinics, whatever is needed — to become better professionally as coaches. We owe the kids that because we ask them to do whatever needs to be done to be better players and a stronger team. We’re always looking for a better way to do the same thing, to say it in a different way that is just as effective. Every year, we tweak our system on both sides of the ball to see if we can do it better without changing the base.” Building those relationships, as well as a team, is a two-way street for Schulte. “The players work so hard all year around — if you want to compete and be successful, no matter the sport, there really is no offseason anymore — and I and my staff don’t want to take short-cuts, either; we work as hard as they do in our way; we don’t want to let them down, just as they don’t want to let us or themselves down,” he said. “I think we can all sleep well at night knowing we’ve done everything in our power to get these kids ready for the game. Sometimes, it doesn’t always work out. As long as I and my coaches have given our best and the players have given theirs, I can live with that. “I think I am also more patient as I grow and mature as a coach. If things aren’t going so well, I think I am willing to stay with the game plan and let the game come to us. As well, sometimes a pat on the back does more than a stern lecture.” Each season can build off the one before. Take, for example, the loss to Norwalk St. Paul in last fall’s Division VI finale. That loss in the last five seconds was plenty of motivation for 2010. “We had a great off-season and summer in the weight room and in conditioning. Losing last year in the finals was all the motivation these guys needed to work hard and improve in all the tangibles: speed, strength, quickness,” he continued. “It wasn’t just the kids that were on the field in that game. Tt wasn’t just the Chris Pohlmans and Jordan Leiningers, the stars; it was everybody. Those that didn’t play wanted to work as hard as those that did. We had constant reminders — which you can’t help because people were talking about it for a long time; the kids didn’t run away from it, either. The kids carried that work ethic over into preseason conditioning, two-a-days and into the season.” Still, it wasn’t all smooth sailing in this run to the state title. “In our first scrimmage, we had it handed to us by Elida. That was a wake-up call and I saw an entirely different team in our scrimmage with Celina,” he observed. “Still, the first game against Lima Central Catholic, I was as nervous as I have ever been. Despite everybody we had back and all the work that the kids out in during the offseason, I wasn’t sure what to expect and what I’d get. I was pleased with how we did against LCC and that kind of set my mind at ease some. That set the tone for the whole season. We learned something after that scrimmage and then it just carried forward. We set a goal to improve every week and get better in each phase and we did that. The players responded well and

The Herald • Congratulations Jays • December 2010 • 5B

maintained their focus all season. That was not an issue. “We had a tough schedule, both league and non-league (six teams made the playoffs). LCC and (Jeromesville) Hillsdale both made the playoffs and the first goal of every season is to win the Midwest Athletic Conference. You find it very easy not to look ahead; as I and the coaching staff remind the players, look ahead in the MAC and you get beat. Once we got through that, won the title and stayed finished the regular season perfect, we could then focus on the playoffs. The kids were very focused. It wasn’t hard to figure out that in order to win in week 15, you had to win in the four weeks before. These kids showed a great level of maturity to handle the expectations and the pressures.” When it came down to the keys to this season, it was his very experienced and talented senior class that led the way. “I was most impressed with how this group handled the off-season and season, especially the seniors. When you think that several of these guys were thrown into the fire of varsity as freshmen and a few more were thrown in as sophomores; they were going up against juniors and seniors and juniors and seniors in the MAC are men and they held their own very well,” Schulte noted. “As I’ve always stressed, you only go as far as your seniors take you. These guys did a great job of providing the necessary leadership and the underclassmen followed their lead. “For example, Jordan (Leininger) came to me about moving to quarterback and his remark was ‘I’d rather win a state title than be a first-team All-Ohio tailback’. Or when Joey (Grubenhoff) got hurt in our last regularseason game with a torn ACL but was determined toi make it back for the finals. That’s what you need to know about this group. “They got stronger, quicker and faster

every season. The seniors aren’t the end-all and be-all of a team but they provide the experience and the intangibles teams need. They were great teammates, not only to their own classmates but all the other classes as well. That really made this team special.” He hopes that it is not the end of the gridiron trail for most of those 21, either. “I believe there are a number of seniors that are capable of playing at the next level, whether it be Division I, II or III. They are going to help some team,” he said. As for the future, Schulte is optimistic but knows what the program faces. “We have to wait 28 days before we can really talk the kids about next season but the excitement is already there; I was up here (Tuesday) to do some work and there were at least 30 kids in the weight room. That is a great sign; winning a title gets them juiced up,” Schulte added. “We’ll get together then and start preparing for next season. You want to challenge each and every kid to become the strongest in the room, to be better than the guy next to him. After all, they will be competing with one another for open spots and if you have that type of mindset throughout your program, you’re going to have a lot of competition once it’s time to suit up again. At the same time, you’re competing against all the other teams on your schedule to try and become the strongest, fastest, quickest and all the other things.” “What I think will be a great motivator for the underclassmen is the question that will be asked a lot: ‘what are you going to do without these 21 seniors’? It’s a legitimate question and they are going to hear it constantly. I think they have already started to provide an answer; the weight room. That is where it’s going to start; getting stronger, more physical, quicker, more athletic, all those things that we will need to get to have a chance.”

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6B • The Herald • Congratulations Jays • December 2010

Captains (Continued from page 3B)
year, ever since the loss last year in the finals. That left a bitter taste in our mouths and we knew what we had to do to get rid of it,” Vogt continued. “We’d been business-like most of the year but the day of that game, it was emotional. I think all of us seniors realized that this was the final time we’d put on the St. John’s football uniform. In previous years, we always had next year but this was it. Tell you the truth, I’m not sure what would have happened or how we’d have reacted had we lost that game. “It was shocking that we beat Shadyside so badly. When we looked at them on film, they were athletic at quarterback and their defensive line was big and athletic. They even came out and did some different things but once we handled that, they went back to their normal stuff. All we had to do was follow our rules and techniques and we were fine.” Motivation came from within and from without, according to Bergfeld. “We didn’t need to have any meetings in the off-season. It was understood what we wanted to do and what we had to do it,” he explained. “We wanted to get back to the state finals and finish the job we didn’t get done last year. Everybody did the extras. During basketball season, it’s hard to make time to lift as much as you’d like but I did what I could. The same thing with baseball because you have so many games. In the summer, it was busy, between agilities, lifting, basketball camps and ACME games. Basketball helps your agility and conditioning. “There was a constant reminder, though. It was Chris Pohlman’s idea to put the picture of Norwalk St. Paul in our locker room celebrating their title and and three places in the weight room. It was a constant reminder for us during the winter and summer of what we had left undone. I don’t think any of us wanted to experience that again.” However, for Vogt, it was a scrimmage that seemed to bring them back to the job at hand. “When Elida handed it to us in a scrimmage, that

was an eye-opener. If we had continued down the path we were on, I’m thinking we might have been a 5-5 team,” he observed. “We had gotten a little complacent, thinking it was going to be easy this year with all the veterans we had back. When we got back from that scrimmage, we had a meeting as seniors and talked about what we wanted to accomplish and what we had to do to get there. We got back after it the next two-a-days practices and never let up.” If that wasn’t enough, the Midwest Athletic Conference was another reminder to not look ahead. “The MAC prepares you so well for success in the playoffs. As long as you can get through the MAC, you’re in good position,” Burgei noted. “It’s the best smallschool conference in the state and you have to get better and play well week in and week out. It beats you up, too.” For Bergfeld, it was also necessary to not let any distractions take the focus on the ultimate prize, such as ignoring Internet forums and such. “I don’t pay attention to the Internet. I know some do but I don’t look at that stuff,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me what someone might say. I just wanted to go out and play football. We did our jobs and we got rewarded for it.” As for the future, all four have short-term and potential long-term goals. “I had to report for basketball (Wednesday), so I took it easy the last couple of days; I sat on the couch, slept and watched TV. Still, I don’t need much time to recover; I’m ready to go,” Bergfeld explained. “I’ve gotten used to it the last three years. Once basketball is over, then it’s baseball. I like all three pretty well. I’m not sure now of whether I will play a sport in college. I think it depends on how basketball and baseball go and how my body holds up. It would be nice but if I decide not to, I’m happy with just being a student.” “I’m thinking of playing basketball for the first time since my freshman year. I’m not sure but coaches are tell-

ing me they like to see players perform in other sports and show different skills; I’m still thinking about it,” Vogt commented. “I know I have to stay in shape and work on my footwork and quickness, as well as getting faster, stronger and more athletic. I play baseball in the spring and that won’t change. I’d like to play college football and Bowling Green, Kent State and Ball State are really interested. Butler has offered but since they are Division I-AA, they really can’t offer money. They are trying to work out some kind of package.” “College football isn’t out of the question but I want to go to an engineering school,” Burgei stated. “It would be nice to play at the next level but if it doesn’t happen, I’m OK with that, too. So far, Dayton is the main one that has expressed interest but I’m hoping more will become interested. I am taking a few days off to let an injury heal up before I start getting ready for track and field.” “Bowling Green State University and Toledo have expressed interest. As well, I-AA and Division II schools are looking,” Leininger observed. “I’m being told different things: some are saying they want me as a fullback, others as a slot receiver, a safety or even an outside linebacker. It just depends what they are looking for and what they need. I had to do some different assignments this year as the quarterback, like leading on the ‘O’ and blocking. I have included some of those plays in my highlight tapes I’m sending out to those schools.” Two of the players: Bergfeld and Leininger; had older brothers that played for the Jays. “Bart was on a state semifinal team in 2004, so he didn’t win a title. Still, he experienced some success,” Bergfeld noted. “We didn’t give me a lot of advice but he gave me some. With his work, he didn’t have a lot of time. He played college football at Dayton and had a pretty nice career.” Leininger had his older brother, Jay, currently an assistant coach, who was part of the 2008 title team as well.

“He claims we are tied with titles. As a freshman, they won in 2005, so he claims that,” Leininger said. “The biggest thing he does is be there when I have a bad play or something else goes wrong. He comes up to me on the sidelines and calms me down, helping me keep my head on straight and move on to when I go back in.” Another, Burgei, has a father, Jerry, who played college ball at Michigan. “He doesn’t talk a lot about that except to stress constantly to work hard and have a good work ethic. He talks about what hard work did for him and can do for me,” Burgei explained. “He doesn’t say a lot to me because we have such good coaches but at the start of the playoffs, he told me to play your B-plus game until the finals; that’s when you want to play your A-plus game. You don’t want to have any regrets and you want to leave it all on the field.” This season won’t be forgotten soon — if ever — by the captains. “A great feeling. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was young — win state as a senior — and it was a goal all season for us,” Burgei added. “I was a starting cornerback for the 2008 team but I was a sophomore. It’s not quite the same as doing it your senior year. That’s the way to go out; winning state in your last game in your final season. This feels likes it’s more ‘my’ and ‘our’ title; it’s a more personal title. “What a nice time to be playing your best and play your best game. That’s what we did against Shadyside. That’s a perfect way to go out.” Vogt focused more on the unity. “We did it as one. Our motto ‘Together As One’ was perfect for us,” he concluded. “We had never gone unbeaten as a class — though we’d won a lot of games — and we finally all got back together in our senior season and went unbeaten. This is a goal we’ve had since junior high. We’ve had a lot of success as a class and this is a best way to top it off. We deserved this; no one gave it

to us. We worked hard for it. “We learned a lot about life as well; the coaches constantly emphasized that success was a mindset; if you believed in yourself and worked hard to get there, then you’d achieve your goals. Everyone got along so well and we really did work as one. That is the biggest memory I will take from this season.” “You couldn’t have a better feeling as a high school athlete than winning a state title in your final season,” Bergfeld ended. “Personally, I enjoyed the blowout, though none of us ever imagined it would be by 71 points. I don’t like close games. It’s nice to have a 35-0 lead. It’s nice that we kept getting better each week and then hit our stride during the playoffs; we took our play and intensity up another notch. It was fun to be able to do that.” Perhaps Leininger summed it up best. “It’s definitely a different feeling winning a title versus being runner-up. Winning it will help erase the memo-

Family traditions passed from father to son

ries from last year but those will always be on our minds, of how we let it get away,” Leininger added. “That loss put a load on our shoulders that we thought about all year and winning the title will help take some of that off our shoulders; it’s lightened the load. We were on a mission for 12 months and got it done. Once we got through the regular season, we could focus on the playoffs. We felt we had a good chance if we took every opponent seriously; we prepared well from practice and film study and put that to good use on the field. “I can’t really express what I feel about my teammates, especially the seniors. We really never had any issues this year; they were great. We had a lot of great leaders on this team; that can’t be overlooked. “This year has taught me how much football is like life, of how you have to work for success and things won’t be handed to you. If you are willing to put in the time and the effort, you will be rewarded.”

St. John’s senior Alex Recker, left, poses with his father, defensive coordinator Steve “Peanut” Recker, with the state championship trophy.

Tom Morris photos


(Continued from page 4B) 1 TD). Pohlman’s 250 solos passed Keith Recker’s 243 as the all-time leader in that department, as well as jumping from fourth to second in total stops (behind Recker’s 479) with 430. Five more seniors were in their second seasons as varsity players: noseguard Cody Brinkman (48 solos, 43 assists, 7 sacks, 9 QB harassments), defensive tackle Kasey Bonifas (13 total tackles; injured late in the season), guard/end Vinny Wiley (13 solos, 8 assists), safety Tyler Ditto (43 and 19, 4 picks) and wide receiver Joe Haggard (5 grabs, 68 yards, 2 tallies). As well, first-time starters were right tackle Seth Knebel and tight end Justin Grothouse (9 catches, 145 yards, 1). The final five seniors were WR Brad Gerberick (2 grabs, 22 yards), defensive tackle Jacob Rode, defensive end Reed Hesseling (18 tackles) and center Nate Hoffman. For the fourth time in the last six seasons, the Jays had a pair of 1,000-yard backs (in 15 games). Junior kicker Josh Rode (70-of-73 extra points, 3-of-4 field goals, 79 points; breaking his 4th-place mark of 66-of-71 last season), fullback Jordan Bergfeld (95 rushes, 733 yards, 13 scores; 10 receptions, 128 yards, 1 tally; 6 kickoff returns, 20.8-yard average), wideout Tanner Calvelage (7 catches, 150 yards, 1) and guard Alex Wehri (6 pancakes) were vital cogs for an offense averaging 42.7 points and 379.3 yards (282.6 rushing; 7.5 yards per play) in 2010 and will be key players for 2011. Rode’s 136of-144 mark in EPs puts him only behind Charlie Webb’s 146-162 and Michael Bitler’s 192-of-210. Defensively, they gave up 10.1 points and 214.2 yards (73.9 rushing; 3.9 yards per play) and forced 23 more turnovers than the offense gave up. Besides the seniors that will be graduating, juniors Kyle Neumeier (team-leading 78 solos and 57 assists at outside linebacker), cornerback Ryan Densel (32 and 9; 5 picks, 1 for a score), cornerback Calvelage (17 and 6; 3 picks) and junior linebacker Austin Sheeter (19 and 14) will need to be prime-time players next fall. They rushed for 4,239 yards (7.2 per rush) and threw for 1,450 (16.7 per completion, with a 52.4 completion percentage and 4 interceptions). The defense ceded 1,108 yards rushing (2.5 per rush) and 2,105 yards passing (10.1 per completion, with a 53.6 completion percentage and 25 picks).

defensive end Alex Recker (16 pancakes; 28 solos, 23 assists, 2 sacks, 16 QB harassments; 38 punts, 36.4-yard average, 15 inside the 20), left guard Joey Grubenhoff (16 pancakes; returned from a severe knee injury in week 10 to play in the finals), Mike linebacker/TE-FB Chris Pohlman (77 solos, 54 assists, 3 sacks, 3 interceptions, 2 for TDs; 81 yards rushing on 10 runs and 24 yards receiving on 2 catches) — the repeat Division VI Defensive Player of the Year; cornerbackturned-tailback Evan Burgei (218 rushes, 1,673 yards, 27 scores; 10 grabs, 119 yards, 2 TDs), strong safety/WR AJ Klausing (36 solos, 15 assists, 1 pick; 7 catches, 192 yards, 2 tallies; 11 punt returns, 9.5-yard average) and outside linebacker Dylan Dancer (55 solos, 48 assists, 1 pick, 5 fumble recoveries,



St. John’s senior Evan Burgei shares a moment with his father, assistant coach Dr. Jerry Burgei, with the title trophy Friday night.


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