Southeast Minnesota’s ‘Dangerous Dozen’: 12 football players to watch in the 22nd – Post Bulletin

(Editor’s note: This article is part of the Pigskin 2022 preview, which will appear in the Post Bulletin’s print edition on Saturday, September 3. A PDF version of Pigskin will be available on PostBulletin.com on Thursday, September 1. )

As we learn each fall, there are more than a dozen talented football players in southeastern Minnesota.

That’s the case again this season, and there will be plenty of players who are currently unknown to many fans outside of their schools who will jump onto the radar of area soccer fans.

For now, though, here are 12 of the area’s best players to watch this fall, the Post Bulletin’s annual “Dangerous Dozen.”

SAM BACKER, RB, CHATFIELD

Possibly the most dynamic offensive threat in the area, Backer totaled 3,117 all-purpose yards with 51 total touchdowns after making the switch from running back to quarterback a season ago. He still used his legs a lot, finishing with 2,384 rushing yards and 34 rushing touchdowns. Backer committed to perennial Division II powerhouse Minnesota State University, Mankato, in July, which means all of his attention will be on helping the Gophers repeat as Class AA champions. He also has a chip on his shoulder from the way he finished last year, he was forced to sit out of the state championship game after committing two unsportsmanlike fouls in the state semifinals.

Carter and Cayden Holcomb were a great duo a season ago. The brothers combined for nearly 2,000 receiving yards and 21 touchdowns for an explosive Mayo offense that was instrumental in helping the Spartans reach the program’s first state tournament since 1996. Young Carter was responsible for 823 of those yards and nine of those. those TDs, while he was a dynamic punt returner. With Cayden now at Winona State University, Carter is expected to shoulder the load, something he shouldn’t have a problem with. Also, don’t be surprised to see him in the backfield, as the Spartans will be looking to use his skill set as much as possible.

REESE TRIPP, OL, KASSON-MANTORVILLE

Tripp is the most recruited name on this list. At 6-foot-7, 325 pounds, Tripp has been blessed with tremendous size, but Division I teams came rushing in last year after a season in which he put it all together. He was a two-way starter as he led the KoMets in “pancake” blocks in the Class AAAA runner-up’s powerful triple option scheme. He is committed to playing football for his home state team at the University of Minnesota and is ranked the fourth best recruit in the state by Prep Redzone.

DREW SCHINDLER, DB, CHATFIELD

Schindler became one of the best defensive backs in southeastern Minnesota a season ago, racking up video game-like numbers with a mind-boggling seven interceptions and 11 pass breakups. He also forced two fumbles, recovered a fumble and had 39 total tackles for the state champion Gophers. He received his first offer from St. Olaf College over the summer, but expects more to come if he is able to replicate last year’s performances.

Poncelet will compete with Holcomb for the title of best catcher in the region this season. The 6-foot-3, 185-pound senior combines big size with speed to go along with soft hands. He can move the chains, run through the middle, take the edge off the defense and is one of the best red-zone threats in the area. He finished with 14 touchdowns along with 762 receiving yards on 52 receptions to help Goodhue reach the Section 1AA championship last year. Poncelet received offers from Winona State and Minnesota Duluth this summer, while he made junior visits to North Dakota State University, the University of North Dakota and the University of St. Thomas in the spring.

Lozoya has been the talk of the summer for the Spartans. It seemed like the weight room became the senior’s second home and now he looks more like a freight train than a high school student. Mayo coach Donny Holcomb called Lozoya a shrunken Christian Okoye, a powerhouse former NFL running back for the Kansas City Chiefs in the early 1990s. It’s a good comparison since Lozoya now weighs more than 500 pounds and run 40 in 4.7 seconds. He will be a force on both sides of the ball this season.

MASON LANGOWSKI, ATH, WINONA

Like his older brother Trent, Mason can play all over the field and do it well. Last year, he played quarterback, running back and wide receiver, totaling more than 650 total yards. He also caught four interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. It’s no surprise that several college teams are interested in Mason getting invites to camps in Minnesota Duluth and South Dakota State. There have also been youth day trips to Duluth, Valparaiso, Moorhead, Minnesota State (Mankato), Brown, South Dakota State, Bemidji State, Augustana and Davidson. This year, he is expected to play more as a quarterback and leader of the Winhawks’ defense.

Another Winhawk, Blanck has burst onto the scene in recent months and is now rated the top running back in the state of Minnesota for the Class of 2025 by Prep Redzone. Blanck transferred from Wabasha-Kellogg before he started high school and the Winhawks used him sparingly in the backfield a season ago. This year, he and senior Dominic Davis (838 yards, 6.7 YPC) are expected to give Winona a dynamic double whammy in the backfield.

BRYCE CORSON, RB, FILMORE CENTER

Corson, one of many do-it-all running backs in the area, finished with more than 1,200 all-purpose yards (786 rushing, 425 receiving) and 22 touchdowns, including a school record 17 rushing touchdowns. The 5-foot-8 senior is crafty and has great acceleration, but his ability to shake off tacklers is what sets him apart. In fact, it sometimes seems like Corson has oil smeared on his body when defenders just get away from him. He will be a key cog for the Falcons in a wide-open Section 1A.

Small is possibly the best tackler in the box. He has great instincts and once he wraps his long arms around you, he’s done. Last year, he finished with 140 total tackles en route to being named an All-District Southeast. He kept that momentum going into the winter, where he performed very well on the mat, finishing fifth in the Class A state wrestling tournament at 182 pounds.

PEYTON BYRNE, BA/OL, STEWARTVILLE

The Stewartville senior was stellar last fall, not allowing a sack at left tackle for a Tigers team that went 8-0 in the regular season. Byrne has put on more than 30 pounds of muscle and is coming off a spring in which he placed fourth in the shot put at Class AA state competition. He will have his choice of Division II schools, either on the grid, on the track or both.

KAIDEN PETERS, KR/PR/BD, PEM

Peters has made noise on the AAU circuit this past summer for basketball, but don’t sleep with him on the football field. He is explosive, fast and can change direction in a heartbeat. It all adds up to the perfect return man. He took two punts for touchdowns (from 60 and 50 yards), averaging an impressive 16 yards per punt return. He also averaged 18.5 yards per kickoff return.

Pigskin Preview ’22 stories on PostBulletin.com this week:

Monday, August 29

• 6 am — Rochester’s Noah Borgeson, Caledonia’s Brent Robley a dangerous connection on St. Thomas.

• 09:30 a.m. — RCTC’s Johnathan Douglas, player profile.

• Midday — Southeast Minnesota’s “Dangerous Dozen”: 12 high school players to watch this fall

• 14:30 — Mark your calendars: A game to mark on each team’s schedule in southeastern Minnesota.

Tuesday, August 30

6 am — 9-Men Section 1 Season Preview

08:30 a.m. — Section 1AAAAA season preview

10:45 — Section 1 AAA season preview

12:30 pm — Section 1A season preview

14:45 — Section 1AAAA season preview

19:00 — Section 1AA/2AA Season Preview

Wednesday, August 31

6 am — Player profile: Fillmore Central running back Bryce Corson

08:30 a.m. — Player profile: Ethan Kramer, Rochester Mayo lineman

11am — Player Profile: Goodhue WR Adam Poncelet

13:00 — Player profile: Peyton Byrne, Stewartville lineman

15:00 — Player profile: Reese Tripp, Kasson-Mantorville lineman

Thursday, September 1

6 am — Player profile: Mason Kolling, Kingsland tight end

9 a.m. — Player profile: Drew Schindler, Chatfield defensive back

Midday — New Minnesota Vikings offense hopes to fly high

1:30 in the afternoon — Minnesota Vikings defense gets a much-needed shakeup

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