Rebels share the load

Southland's football team has gotten a huge boost from its four primary ball carries this season. Back row (left to right): Ben Wolterman and Mike Goergen; front row: Tyler Kressin and Nick Schmitz. The Rebls are off to a 4-0 start and are ranked No. 6 in Class 'A.' -- Rocky Hulne/sports@austindailyherald.com

ADAMS — By all accounts, the Southland football team has been dominant so far this season.

They’ve won all four of their games, they’re outscoring their opponents on average of 48.5 to 10.5 and they’re ranked No. 6 in Class ‘A.’

The Rebels have been able to stay on top with a devastating rushing attack that features four different runners who have a lot of speed that compliments their different skill sets.

When Southland needs a tough yard, it turns to senior Ben Wolterman, a 5-10, 200-pound bruiser who isn’t afraid to throw a block or take a hand-off. When the Rebels needs a big play, they turn to junior Mike Goergen, a speedster who already has 12 TDs this season. When Southland needs someone to throw their body around and break some open field tackles, the ball goes to senior Tyler Kressin, who despite his smaller frame, may be one of Southland’s strongest players and when the Rebels need a runner who’s going to come out hard, there’s junior Nick Schmitz.

“They have gifts and speed that you can’t coach,” Southland head coach Shawn Kennedy said of his four-headed backfield. “The greatest quality of all of them is they’re humble kids. They all stay after practice for an hour or so and we’ve usually got 15 or 20 guys playing seven-on-seven or working on defensive schemes. It’s truly incredible.”

With only one football to go around to four different playmakers, there’s always a chance that jealousy could slip in. But this group has no animosity even though no player has even reached the 40-carry mark this season.

It helps that they all make their carries count. Kressin, Goergen and Schmitz are all averaging at least 9 yards per carry and Wolterman is averaging 7.4 per rush.

“I look it like we’re brothers,” said Kressin, who has run for 324 yards this season. “We work hard with each other and I think we’re pretty tough to stop because we’ve had so much experience in the backfield. We’ve played so many games at the varsity level.”

Southland’s most experienced player is Wolterman, who has been a starter since his freshman year. He has the speed to get through the hole and take off, but he doesn’t mind paving paths for his teammates either.

“It’s an honor to block for everybody and I know they’ll block for me. I really enjoy blocking,” Wolterman said. “We rely on each other a lot. You can’t do it without any one of us and it’s the line and wide receivers too. It wouldn’t happen without them and it’s really not the four of us, it’s all eleven of us.”

Southland’s foursome has combined for a total of 1,265 yards and 21 touchdowns so far, and they couldn’t care less who ends up with the stats — as long as its in a win. Just this last week, Goergen had a chance to tie the Southland school record if he scored a sixth touchdown, but he deferred to Schmitz, who said the gesture made a big impression on him.

“That was pretty classy on his part. I really respect him for that,” Schmitz said. “He could’ve had the school record and he just gave it to me because he doesn’t care about that stuff. There’s a trickle down effect when one of your best athletes has that attitude. It’s great for the whole team.”

For Goergen, it really doesn’t matter who’s running the ball as long as there’s a hole for them to go through.

“We’re lucky to have the athletes we have here and we try to utilize them all,” he said. “We’re all equal, so it’s whoever gets the ball. It’s no big deal and the linemen make the holes, so it’s all the same. Our line is what runs us.”

While Southland’s backfield has a big impact on its offense, they’re also a big factor on the other side of the ball. Wolterman, Schmitz and Goergen all play linebacker and Kressin is a cornerback.

“Ben reads and fills so well and Nick is one of the smartest linebackers I’ve ever coached,” Kennedy said. “We utilize Mike coming off the corner on blitzes and Tyler is a physical corner, who can use his speed to make up distance.”

While winning its four games is nice, fast starts are nothing new to the Rebels and this year they’re hoping to keep that start going and turn it into a Three Rivers title — which they haven’t won since 2007. They’d also like to get past the section semifinals for the first time in a long time.

“In the past, we’ve been the ones who have defeated ourselves. That’s on all of us,” Kennedy said. “We’d like to get past that hump, but I think there’ s a lot of luck involved in that too. We just need to take every team we play respectfully.”

Southland will play at Chatfield (2-2 overall) this Friday at 7 p.m. and the team is looking forward to playing in some closer games.

But if the Rebels start to get overconfident, Kennedy will be sure to let them know where they stand.

“If I feel like they’re getting a little cocky or arrogant, I knock them down. We have to stay humble and hungry,” he said. “If we were so good we wouldn’t have spent two and half hours watching our mistakes against Lewiston on film. We want to be perfect every time on every play. That’s not going to happen, but if you strive to be mediocre, you’ll be mediocre and that’s not Southland football.”

 

SHARING THE LOAD

Mike Goergen — 358 rushing yards (10.5 per carry), 8 catches for 140 yards (17.5 per catch), 261 return yards, 12 total TDs

Tyler Kressin — 324 rushing yards (9.0 per carry), 67 return yards, 3 total TDs

Nick Schmitz — 242 rushing yards (9.3 per carry), 2 catches for 14 yards, 26 return yards, 5 total TDs

Ben Wolterman — 177 rushing yards (7.4 per carry), 3 total TDs

 

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