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Legacy quarterback Jason Hoekstra is one of four repeat first-team AAA all-state football players.

WILL KINCAID/Tribune

 Since Legacy High School opened in 2015, Jason Hoekstra has embodied the role of football quarterback.

 During that time, Hoekstra's value system has undergone a change.

 "They kind of threw me in a leadership spot early in my career, but in the long run it benefited me," said Hoekstra, now a LHS senior.

 As a sophomore he quarterbacked a winless Legacy football team until he was sidelined by an injury in the fifth game.

 The next year he led the Sabers into the playoffs during a 6-4 season and was named a first-team all-state quarterback.

 This season Legacy again reached the playoffs with Hoekstra behind center. The Sabers finished 5-5 and he again was named an all-state quarterback.

 Earning AAA all-state honors as a junior was a big deal to the left-handed quarterback. This year the individual stuff got lost in the shuffle.

 "It definitely was an individual goal, more so my junior year," Hoekstra said of his all-state status. My senior year I put most of my individual goals aside. It was really about the team ... so (the award) kind of caught me by surprise." 

 Hoekstra is one of four repeaters on the first team, which is selected by the state's AAA head coaches. The other players who earned back-to-back first-team recognition are Century quarterback Jakob Olson, Minot offensive lineman Logan Krueger and Fargo South linebacker Victor Isaak. All are seniors.

 Two players moved up from last year's second-team. Senior tailback Jalen Sprecher of Bismarck made the jump, along with senior defensive lineman Dylan Evans of Williston.

 There was little room for underclassmen on the first team. The only juniors to make the select squad were defensive lineman Tanner Thorsness of Century and linebacker Hunter Danelson of Minot.

  Nice though individual honors may be, Hoekstra said his all-state selection wasn't the apex of his final high school football season.

 "I'd say the high point of my senior year was clinching a playoff spot on week eight. We got another chance to play together and make a run at it," he said.

 The run abruptly ended in the quarterfinals as the Sabers fell victim to West Fargo's undefeated championship-bound juggernaut.

 "I really thought we had the team and the work ethic to go farther in the playoffs. ... Some things didn't go our way, but I'm still proud of what we did. There were definitely some team goals we couldn't reach," Hoekstra observed.

 Hoekstra,  listed at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds,  didn't play a down on defense during his high school football career. He was penciled in as a two-way player as a senior, but injuries sidetracked that plan.

 "I ended up separating my (right) shoulder, which made it impossible  for me to hit. Then, against Century, I separated my throwing shoulder."

 The injury to his left shoulder occurred in the final regular season game, putting Hoekstra and the Sabers at a disadvantage for the playoffs.

 Hoekstra still has a lot of ground to cover during his senior year. He's preparing for his final basketball season, a sport in which he's twice been voted all-region. In the spring, he'll return to first base on the Saber baseball team.

 At the college level, though, football will take center stage. He's committed to Bemidji State of the Northern Sun Conference for football.

 Bismarck-Mandan's four AAA schools fared well in the all-state selection process, picking off eight of the 25 first-team spots. The four local schools earned nine berths on the 26-man second team.

 Named to the first team from playoff semifinalist Bismarck were Sprecher, offensive linemen Bennett Beehler and Zach Strombeck and defensive linemen Trajan Jangula. Claiming second-team berths for the Demons were  quarterback Will Madler, lineman Chase Dockter and defensive back Isiah Olsen, all juniors. Madler was a second-team choice for the second time.

 Century, shooting for a third straight state AAA championship, was derailed in the semifinals. Senior quarterback Jakob Olson, Thorsness and senior linebacker Levi Rockey represented CHS on the first team. Three Patriots -- seniors Kade Lynch, Devyn Vance and Reyer Fenoff -- were second-team picks. Lynch is a wide receiver-defensive back, Vance plays tight end and defensive end and Fenoff is an offensive lineman and linebacker.

 Legacy, a quarterfinalist, placed Hoekstra and senior wideout Austin Wolf on the first team. Junior fullback-linebacker Jacob Hudson represented the Sabers on the second team.

 Mandan, which finished 4-5, filled two second-team positions. Senior tight end-defensive lineman Trae Steckler and senior fullback-linebacker Quinn Halstengard represented the Braves.

 Madler was one of three athletes who were returned to the second team. The others were Fargo South senior wideout-defensive back Tanner Beaton and Dickinson tight end-defensive end Krew Mathern.

 As might be expected, undefeated state champion West Fargo made a haul in the awards arena. The Packers grabbed six first-team all-state berths, one of them by quarterback Andy Gravdahl, who was named the season's outstanding senior athlete.

 West Fargo's Jay Gibson was voted AAA coach of the year.

AAA all-state football

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Sports Reporter