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High School Football: 2 All-Stars highlight the All-Area 1st Team

All-Area 1st Team announced

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Brainerd's Nathaniel Staehling carries the ball in a eariler 2021 game. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Although zero area teams made the state tournament in 2021, three teams (Aitkin, Pierz and Verndale) lost in their respective section title games.

Brainerd’s Nathaniel Staehling and Verndale’s Gideon Ervasti will represent their area and school as 2021 All-Stars and highlight the Dispatch All-Area Football First Team list.

Ervasti led the area in rushing by almost 800 yards with 1,640 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns.

Staehling is a North Dakota State University commit who led a Class 6A team in rushing and earned All-State Academic honors.

Verndale led the way with four selections while Brainerd, Aitkin, Pierz and Pine River-Backus each earned three selections.

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Multiple District MVPs are highlighted on the All-Area First Team, including Ervasti who was All-Nine Man Subdistrict West South MVP.

Ervasti’s teammate Eli Olsson was named All-Nine Man Subdistrict West South Lineman of the Year.

Wadena-Deer Creek’s Payton Rondestvedt earned District Northwest South Offensive Player of the Year. Pine River-Backus’ Corbin Knapp was named the Darrel Naugle MVP Defensive Lineman.

Players were nominated by their coaches and voted on by the Dispatch sports department.

RELATED: High School Football: Multiple players selected to All-Area 2nd Team

Gus Sanford, Aitkin, senior, RB/LB

Named All-District Northeast White and finished with 883 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on 141 carries and finished with five catches for 94 yards. He finished with 27 tackles.

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Aitkin's Gus Sanford runs the ball in an earlier 2021 game. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Carson Kullhem, Aitkin, senior, RB/CB

Named All-District Northeast White and finished with 679 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 101 carries and finished with four catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. He finished with 31 tackles and three interceptions.

Jackson MacDonald, Aitkin, senior, FB/LB

Named All-District Northeast White and finished with 131 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 20 carries and three catches for 22 yards. He finished with 102 tackles, two tackles for losses, two interceptions and one forced fumble.

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Nathaniel Staehling, Brainerd, senior, RB/S

Named All-District North Central Red, Academic All-State and a 2021 All-Star. He finished with 602 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 118 carries and finished with eight catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns. He finished with 62 tackles, two tackles for loss, two interceptions, two blocked kicks, three forced fumbles and three pass break ups.

Riley DeRosier, Brainerd, senior, DT/OL

Named All-District North Central Red and finished with 74 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, two sacks and one fumble recovery.

Cam Langerman, Brainerd, senior, OLB

Named All-District North Central Red and finished with 86 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions.

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Brainerd's Cam Langerman gets ready for a defensive play in an earlier 2021 game. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Dylan Klancher, Crosby-Ironton, juniors, RB/LB

Named All-District Northeast Blue and finished with 572 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 136 carries, caught 10 passes for 52 yards and threw for 148 yards and a touchdown on 5-for-17 passing. He finished with 63 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.

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Crosby-Ironton's Dylan Klancher runs the ball in an earlier 2021 game. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Austin Neu, Little Falls, senior, QB/DB

Named All-District East Central North and finished with 1,317 yards passing and 12 touchdowns on 100-for-215 (46.5%) passing. He finished with 341 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 82 carries. He finished with 13.5 tackles, 2.5 pass break ups and one fumble recovery.

Eli Jorgens, Pequot Lakes, senior, OL/DL

He blocked for a team which rushed for 862 yards and seven touchdowns and threw for 1,376 yards and eight touchdowns. He finished with 64 tackles and one sack.

Trevor Radunz, Pierz, senior, LB/RB

Named All-District Mid-State Sub 1 and All-Section 6-3A. He finished with 492 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on 95 carries. He caught two passes for 23 yards. He finished with 74 tackles, two interceptions and four fumble recoveries.

Zach Jones, Pierz, senior, DE/TE

Named All-District Mid-State Sub 1 and All-Section 6-3A. He finished with 240 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 28 carries. He caught 11 passes for 307 yards and three touchdowns. He finished with 26 tackles, three sacks and two fumble recoveries.

Reese Young, Pierz, sophomore, LB/RB

Named All-District Mid-State Sub 1 and All-Section 6-3A. He finished with 865 rushing yards and six touchdowns on 123 carries. He caught three passes for 50 yards. He returned a kickoff for a touchdown. He finished with 18 tackles, 0.5 sacks, one interception, two pass break ups and one fumble recovery.

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Pierz's Reese Young runs the ball in an earlier 2021 game. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Jacob Dixon, Pillager, senior, RB/LB

Named All-Midwest White Subdistrict and All-Section 6-2A. He finished with 367 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 76 carries. He caught three passes for 18 yards. He finished with 88 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

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Pillager's Jacob Dixon, left, blocks in an earlier 2021 game. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Connor Tulenchik, Pine River-Backus, senior, RB/LB

Named All-Northwest South Subdistrict and All-Section 6-1A. He finished with 862 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 161 carries. He finished with nine catches for 226 yards and three touchdowns. He finished with 40 tackles, 0.5 sacks, five tackles for loss, one interception and one fumble recovery.

Corbin Knapp, Pine River-Backus, junior, OT/DT

Named All-Northwest South Subdistrict, All-Section 6-1A and Darrel Naugle MVP defensive lineman. He finished with 39.5 tackles, seven sacks, 13 tackles for loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He blocked for a team which rushed for 1,838 rushing yards and 27 rushing touchdowns and 1,177 passing yards and 16 passing touchdowns.

Irvin Tulenchik, Pine River-Backus, junior, QB/FS

Named All-Northwest South Subdistrict and All-Section 6-1A. He completed 70-for-123 passes (56.9%) for 1,126 yards and 15 touchdowns. He rushed for 127 yards and two touchdowns on 50 carries. He finished with 32 tackles, three tackles for loss, two pass break ups, one interception and two fumble recoveries.

Sam Opheim, Staples-Motley, senior, OL/DT

Named All-Midwest White Subdistrict and All-Section 6-2A. He finished with 91 tackles, one sack, eight tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He blocked for a team which finished with 810 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns and 950 passing yards and five touchdowns.

Gideon Ervasti, Verndale, senior, RB/LB

Named All-District Nine-Man West South, All-Nine Man Section 4, All-Nine Man West South Subdistrict MVP and a 2021 All-Star. He finished with 1,640 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns on 178 carries. He caught 11 passes for 111 yards and one touchdown. He recorded 82.5 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, one interception and three pass break ups.

RELATED: Football: Finally healthy, Ervasti turns in a season to remember

Brandon Greenwaldt, Verndale, senior, TE/DE

Named All-District Nine-Man West South and All-Nine Man Section 4. He caught 19 passes for 327 yards and three touchdowns. He finished with 63.5 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery, two blocked kicks and four pass break ups.

Eli Olsson, Verndale, senior, OL/DL

Named All-District Nine-Man West South and All-Nine Man West South Subdistrict Lineman of the Year. He blocked for a team which rushed for 3,533 yards and 52 touchdowns and passed for 982 yards and 10 touchdowns. He finished with 34.5 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and two sacks.

Dilan Orlando, Verndale, senior, QB/S

Named All-District Nine-Man West and completed 59-for-98 passes (60.2%) for 924 yards and 10 touchdowns. He rushed for 193 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. He finished with 38.5 tackles, five interceptions and one pass break up.

Josh Dykhoff, Wadena-Deer Creek, senior, WR/DE

Named All-District Northwest South and All-Section 6-2A. He caught 47 passes for 791 yards and nine touchdowns. He rushed for seven yard on two carries. He threw for 41 yards and one touchdown. He finished with 45.5 tackles, seven tackles for loss, one sack and one interception.

Payton Rondestvedt, Wadena-Deer Creek, senior, QB/DB

Named All-District Northwest South, District Northwest South offensive player of the year and All-Section 6-2A. He completed 143-for-241 passes (59.3%) for 2,086 yards and 19 touchdowns. He rushed for 395 yards and six touchdowns on 78 carries. He finished with 44.5 tackles and one interception.

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Payton Rondestvedt.

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