For the second year in a row, Shiloh Christian teammates Blake Emmel and A.J. Dale have taken up residence on the North Dakota 9-man football all-state team.
This time, the two juniors made it all the way to the penthouse.
After being named to the all-state second team in 2012, Emmel and Dale became the first Shiloh football players to garner first-team honors.
Emmel made the team as a running back. Dale got in as a linebacker. Teammate James Inman, a seior fullback-linebacker, was placed on the second team.
It was a record-breaking season for the 5-foot-11, 180-pound Emmel, who rushed for 1,663 yards and 22 touchdowns on only 133 carries. He also caught 10 passes for 183 yards and four scores. He broke his own single-season school records for most rushing yards, rushing touchdowns and total touchdowns.
“Blake is a tremendous athlete and very deserving of this honor,” Shiloh coach Funnon Barker said. “He got bigger and stronger in the offseason and it really showed. He’s the whole package at running back. He has great breakaway speed, but he’ll also get you the tough yards inside because he runs hard and is so difficult to bring down. He’s also a very good receiver and blocker.”
Emmel was solid at linebacker, as well. He led the Skyhawks with 41 solo tackles, including 10 for a loss.
The 5-7, 170-pound Dale was a key player on a Shiloh defense that improved greatly from last season. He had 29 solo tackles, 18 assists, 9.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 quarterback sacks.
“A.J. isn’t very big, but he brings everything he has,” Barker said. “He’s a very smart player and very aggressive. Our defense did a great job this season and A.J. was in the middle of it all.”
Dale also excelled on offense. He carried 116 times for 1,114 yards and hauled in eight passes for 161.
Inman rushed for 694 yards and caught 10 passes for another 107.
“James had a great year as a runner, receiver and blocker. He was our unsung hero on offense, and he was a difference-maker on defense, too,” Barker said. “He took on a leadership role this season and made a huge impact on our younger players. He’s a big reason why we had a lot of success this season.”
Emmel, Dale and Inman helped the Skyhawks to a 10-1 record and their first Region 4 championship. Shiloh lost to Westhope-Newburg-Glenburn in the semifinals.
Region 1 champion Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter had three first-team selections — quarterback Trent Fettig, defensive lineman Cory Koenig and linebacker Matthew Gross.
Fettig, a second-team pick last season, rushed for 1,775 yards and passed for another 783, leading the Imperials to a 9-2 record and two playoff victories. He accounted for 31 touchdowns — 24 rushing.
Fettig was named the Imperials’ starting quarterback in 2012 after a stellar season at wide receiver in 2011. In his two seasons under center, the 5-11, 180-pound senior racked up 3,559 yards rushing, 1,590 passing and 62 total touchdowns.
“We put Trent at quarterback because we knew he could be a real threat both running and passing the ball,” Napoleon-GS coach Kelly McCleary said. “He would have been dangerous as a wide receiver or running back, too. He just makes things happen. Opposing teams knew what we were going to do. They knew who they had to stop, but Trent still found ways to be successful.”
Koenig, a 6-2, 225-pound senior, anchored the Imperials’ defensive and offensive lines. He recorded eight quarterback sacks.
“The noseguard is one of the most important positions on defense. If you struggle at noseguard, you’re going to struggle in a lot of ways, especially against the run,” McCleary said. “Cory played that position extremely well for three years. Not only was he tough against the run, but he did an outstanding job rushing the quarterback.”
McCleary said Gross, a 5-10, 180-pound junior, recorded more than 100 tackles.
“Matthew came a long way this year,” the Imperials’ coach said. “He’s a hard-nosed player who’s smart and quick. He can go sideline to sideline and make plays.”
The deadly passing combination of Taylor Krenz and Zachery Schmidt helped Grant County-Flasher to a 7-1 regular-season record and a playoff berth. Krenz, a 5-9, 155-pound senior quarterback, completed 104 of 163 passes for 2,132 yards and 33 touchdowns. Schmidt, a 5-11, 150-pound senior wide receiver, caught 41 passes for 990 yards and 15 scores. Schmidt also scored three touchdowns rushing, one on a punt return and another on a fumble return.
“Both of those kids are fierce competitors. They have a burning desire to win,” Grant County-Flasher coach Jamie Krenz said. “Taylor has a great understanding of the position, and he has a tremendous work ethic. Zack is a very good athlete who will do everything he can to make a play on a ball. They own all of our passing and receiving records.”
Tucker Meidinger of South Border made the first team as a linebacker, but the 5-9, 187-pound senior excelled in other ways for the 7-3 Mustangs. On defense, he recorded 83 unassisted tackles (school record), 39 assists and three interceptions. On offense, Meidinger played running back, quarterback and receiver. He carried 121 times for 713 yards and 11 touchdowns, caught 15 passes for 280 markers and four scores, and was 11-for-21 passing for 165 yards and three six-pointers.
“Very diverse would be the best way to describe Tucker,” South Border coach Bryan Schumacher said. “He was our starting fullback, but when we needed him to play quarterback, he stepped right in a did a great job. He also did a great job as a receiver and blocker, but defense was where he was most valuable. He made a lot of plays for us.”
South Border’s James Thielges was named to the second team, as were Richardton-Taylor-Hebron’s Logan Lacher and Lane Aune; Center-Stanton’s Noah Johnson, and Strasburg-Zeeland’s Nic Kramer.
State champion Cavalier had three first-team selections — running back Brock Robbins, offensive lineman Jeff Stith, and defensive back Ryan Chrest.
Chrest is one of four first-team repeat selections. The others are running back Brady Thielges of LaMoure-Litchville-Marion, offensive lineman Luke Bacon of Towner-Granville-Upham, and linebacker Isaac Jacobs of Divide County. Thielges made the team as a linebacker last season.
9-man all-state team
Quarterback: Taylor Krenz, sr., Grant County-Flasher. Trent Fettig, sr., Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter. Hunter Braaten, sr., Westhope-Newburg-Glenburn.
Running backs: Blake Emmel, jr., Shiloh Christian. Brady Thielges, sr., LaMoure-Litchville-Marion. Brock Robbins, jr., Cavalier.
Wide receivers: Zachary Schmidt, sr., Grant County-Flasher. Colter Thorp, jr., Towner-Granville-Upham.
Linemen: Jeff Stith, jr., Cavalier. Tanner Volson, sr., Drake-Anamoose. Luke Bacon, sr., Towner-Granville-Upham.
Linemen: Cory Koenig, sr., Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter. Quinn Alo, soph., LaMoure-Litchville-Marion. Dustin Weeks, soph., Westhope-Newburg-Glenburn.
Linebackers: A.J. Dale, jr., Shiloh Christian. Tucker Meidinger, sr., South Border. Matthew Gross, jr., Napoleon. Tanner Langen, sr., St. John. Isaac Jacobs, sr., Divide County.
Backs: Ryan Chrest, sr., Cavalier. Eli Luna, jr., Towner-Granville-Upham.
James Inman, sr., Shiloh Christian. James Thielges, sr., South Border. Logan Lacher, sr., and Lane Aune, sr., Richardton-Taylor-Hebron. Noah Johnson, sr., Center-Stanton. Nic Kramer, sr., Strasburg-Zeeland. Anthony Olson, jr., LaMoure-Litchville-Marion. Justin Gibson, sr., Cavalier. Kendrick Lenzen, soph., Hankinson. Hunter Diegel, sr., Sargent Central. Clay Montag, sr., and Joseph Ihry, sr., Finley-Sharon-Hope-Page. Ty Myron, sr., Thompson. Jacob Pladson, jr., and Riley Korsmo, sr., Hatton-Northwood. Ethan Miller, sr., and Chase Conway, soph., Westhope-Newburg-Glenburn. Drake Babineaux, sr., Divide County. Keifer Langan, sr., and Nick Martin, sr., St. John. Kendal Green, sr., Towner-Granville-Upham. Darin McClintock, sr., Drake-Anamoose.