Area Male Athlete: Pierz's Dehler dominates the line
Pierz defensive end Teddy Dehler on Pierz's defense: "We take pride in defense here at Pierz no doubt. Coach (Dan) Saehr does an excellent job coaching us. We just play. We take it up a notch on defense because everybody loves playing it. We take...
Pierz defensive end Teddy Dehler on Pierz's defense: "We take pride in defense here at Pierz no doubt. Coach (Dan) Saehr does an excellent job coaching us. We just play. We take it up a notch on defense because everybody loves playing it. We take pride. We always say we'll win if the other team doesn't score."
They call him Touchdown Teddy.
Teddy Dehler usually celebrates a touchdown scored by a Pierz Pioneers running back. The two-year starting center and defensive end for Class 1A's top-ranked Pioneers football team has blasted holes along with his fellow offensive linemen to help Pierz score 49 rushing touchdowns and 10 passing touchdowns.
Position: Defensive end, center
Highlights: Intercepted a pass for a touchdown against Foley
In the Pioneers' 42-6 Section 5-3A semifinal victory over Foley Oct. 20, Dehler celebrated his own score. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound defensive end tipped a pass back to himself for an interception. Dehler didn't even have to move for the pick six as he was standing in the end zone when he caught the pick.
"It was definitely more special for me," Dehler said. "Obviously, defensive touchdowns are more special anyway, but this is my only varsity touchdown ever, so as a lineman this is really rare. It was awesome. I jumped up and down in the end zone about 100 times."
Dehler didn't have a touchdown dance prepared and didn't induce a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty, but his teammates would have understood if he did.
"One of my buddies said he was waiting for me to spike the ball, but I didn't," Dehler said. "I just flipped it to the ref. I had to be smart."
Dehler used to play tight end on the junior varsity and caught a touchdown pass so it wasn't his first career touchdown, but this one helped Pierz advance to the Section 5-3A finals, which it eventually won over Annandale Oct. 24 in St. Cloud to advance to its third straight and 12th overall state tournament.
While the interception wasn't expected, Pierz coaches made a move earlier in the week to move Dehler from one side of the defensive line to the other.
"He had a defensive end's dream come true against Foley," said Pierz head coach Leo Pohlkamp. "He reached up and tapped the ball up into the air and it came down in his lap for a touchdown. Plus, in the game he knocked down another pass. At least one more for sure.
"We noticed from watching film that the Foley quarterback rolled out to his right almost exclusively. Teddy had been playing defensive end on the other side so we switched him over and all week in practice we kept telling him, 'Get your hands up. Get your hands up.' And he was able to knock one down."
Dehler owns 21 solo tackles and 44 total tackles. He leads the Pioneers with seven sacks and eight quarterback pressures to go along with his pick six.
He also plays center for what Pohlkamp has called one of the best offensive lines he's seen in his long tenure at Pierz. Dehler is flanked by guards Logan Stangl and Brett Kapsner. Pierz tackles are David Skiba and Jackson Michaels and tight ends are Matt Kummet and Kolton Eischens.
"It's definitely an honor for coach to say that," Dehler said. "Our line has played well together this year. It's been a fun year. Coach (Dave) Rocheleau does a great job with us linemen and we want to learn. That makes it easy. We all said at the beginning of the year, our goal is to get into the state tournament and win the thing. We knew that going in. We knew we had to get better every week so us linemen jelled together and we make it work."
Pierz has rushed for 2,865 yards and the 49 touchdowns on just 457 carries. That's 6.3 yards every time a Pierz running back carries the ball. Pioneers quarterback Aaron Weber has thrown for 799 yards and 10 scores and just one interception, which happened against Annandale.
"On a pass play, I tell the line which way to block because we have running backs help to the right or left and we have to fan out the other way," said Dehler. "I usually make that call. I did screw that up one time this year and our quarterback (Aaron) Weber got crushed. That was my fault. That's one of the things we do. And as a captain me and David (Skiba) take charge and lead the linemen. "
Dehler started playing center in the middle of last year because of injury. There was talk of moving the three-sport athlete to guard prior to the season, but Pohlkamp couldn't think of a very good reason to pull the plug on the move.
"When we're in the shotgun his snaps are very good," Pohlkamp said. "When Dave and I talked about moving him to guard, I remember saying, 'You know what? I don't ever remember him having a bad snap.' So we decided to just leave him there. Center is so important with stepping toward playside and sealing off any blitzes from the backside. He does a really good job of reading who he's supposed to block. He's a very good lineman."
Other notable performances:
Cross country: Tyler Moore, Little Falls, won the Granite Ridge Conference title in 16:24.94.
Football: Jonny Kasper, Pierz, rushed for 125 yards on 24 carries against Annandale.
Brett Kapsner, Pierz, finished with a fumble recovery and an interception against Annandale.
Lane Girtz, Pierz, rushed for 112 yards on seven carries against Foley.
Noah Boser, Pierz, scored two touchdowns against Foley and two against Annandale.
Soccer: Tyler Ogren and Levi Jensen, Lake Region, each scored three goals against St. Francis.