Student to Teacher: BP’s Rumpza reaches his former teammate’s TD mark

Published 4:29 pm Friday, October 17, 2014

Blooming Priarie quarterback John Rumpza threw his 102nd career TD pass this week to tie him in second place in Minnesota history with his former teamate Luc Zellmer. -- Rocky Hulne/

Blooming Priarie quarterback John Rumpza threw his 102nd career TD pass this week to tie him in second place in Minnesota history with his former teamate Luc Zellmer. — Rocky Hulne/

BLOOMING PRAIRIE — Four years ago, John Rumpza was a freshman when he watched Blooming Prairie senior quarterback Luc Zellmer finish off his football career with his 102nd touchdown pass in the Class A state semifinals in the Metrodome.

On Wednesday, Rumpza equaled that career mark when he tossed a TD to put away New Richland-HEG 35-20. Rumpza was fired up on the sideline after the throw and a few people asked him if he had just broken Zellmer’s record.

“I told them no, I was caught up in the moment of the game,” Rumpza said. “I knew I was close [to Zellmer], but I didn’t know how close.

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Rumpza and Zellmer are currently tied for second in career TD passes in Minnesota behind Nicollet senior Dalton Elliot, who has 104 career TD passes. Depending on how far the Awesome Blossoms (8-0 overall) go in the playoffs, Rumpza could hold that record by the end of the season. BP is the No. 2 seed in Section 1A and it will host No. 7 Fillmore Central Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Rumpza, who stands at 6-feet, 6-inches tall, learned a lot from Zellmer, who is 5-10.

“Luc’s a great guy,” Rumpza said. “He taught me for a couple of years there and I had a chance to learn from him. It’s just an honor to be in the company of a guy like that. When I started I thought there was no way I would even get close to [the record]. You put in your time and work hard, and good things can happen.”

BP senior Cole Sunde is the only Blossom to have caught a touchdown pass from Rumpza and Zellmer. Sunde played some running back as a freshman and now he plays wide receiver.

“I’ve been really blessed with really great quarterbacks, really great teammates and really great coaches,” Sunde said. “The biggest difference is probably height. Luc was pretty short and John is monstrous. They both throw a good ball and they’re both really smart too.”

Rumpza has been nothing short of fantastic this season for BP. He’s thrown 34 TDs and just one interception as BP is outscoring its opponents on average of 41.4-10.8.

BP has ran the spread offense that favors the passing game for several years and the fact that the BP football team has thrown 206 TD passes in the past six seasons has head coach Chad Gimbel appreciating the players he’s had play for him.

“We have really good kids. The kids know the system and the system works, but you’ve got to have the kids to execute it. They all buy into it,” Gimbel said. “I’m proud of the guys for accomplishing it and I’m happy for them. It’s something they need to tell their kids somewhere down the road and it’s something that they should be proud of.”

Zellmer’s record could’ve been much harder to break if he hadn’t suffered a couple of injuries his senior year. Zellmer, who led BP to two state tournament appearances, missed five games with a thumb injury his senior season and he tore his shoulder in his first game back from that injury. Zellmer played through the pain for three games as he led BP to the state semis, but he had surgery after the season and he wasn’t able to play college football.

Zellmer, who is now a Biology Major at UW-La Crosse, said he would probably do the same thing all over again if he had the chance.

“As a young stubborn kid, I don’t think I could’ve dealt with not playing,” Zellmer said.

Zellmer remembered Rumpza as a “goofy” kid who still had a lot of learning to do during his freshman season.

“Initially I saw that he was talented with athletic ability. Back then, he was raw and needed some grooming. He was a freshman and it’s tough be perfect [at that age],” Zellmer said. “[The passing success] kind of goes with the system. The kids that go through the system want to be the best and they want to stand out.”

Rumpza, who has drawn interest from several Division II schools and a couple of smaller Division I schools, now has his sights set on the Section 1A tournament and BP is taking it one game at a time. The Blossoms have played in six consecutive Section 1A title games, but they’ve lost the last two times they made it that far. Rumpza threw six interceptions in a season-ending 28-20 loss to Faribault Bethlehem Academy last season and he said he learned from that game as ball security has been a major focus point this season.

“This time of year is what it’s all about,” Rumpza said. “A conference championship and an undefeated season doesn’t mean anything if you can’t perform in the postseason. We know that, because we’ve been through that the last couple of seasons.”

Wherever Rumpza and the Blossoms finish this season, BP’s next quarterback is going to have a some really big shoes to fill. Gimbel said he’s not even thinking about that yet.

“We’ll worry about that next year. Right now we’ll just worry about taking care of this year,” he said.