I-S players in all-star game
Three Thunderbirds help North team win
By Greg Seubert
Apparently, Bryce Huettner wasn’t quite finished with what he started.
The 2019 Iola-Scandinavia High School graduate set Wisconsin’s all-time rushing yardage record last year as a senior.
Huettner had a game-high 70 yards July 20 for the North team in a 21-14 win over the South squad in the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association’s small-school all-star game at Titan Stadium in Oshkosh.
Huettner was one of three former Thunderbirds that played in the game, as Carter Kurki and Kellan Wandtke lined up as a linebacker and offensive lineman, respectively.
Martin Luther’s Darios Crawley-Reed put the South on the scoreboard with an 19-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, but the North tied the game later in the quarter on a 9-yard run from Stratford’s Kade Ehrike.
Nine of Huettner’s 70 yards came in the second quarter, as his touchdown run gave the North a 14-7 lead.
However, the south tied the game at 14-14 in the third quarter after Lakeside Lutheran’s Caleb Raymond recovered a fumble in the end zone.
Ehrike found the end zone for the second time from a yard out to give the North a 21-14 lead. The North was able to run out the clock, thanks in part to Huettner, who had about half of his 12 carries on the game’s final drive.
“We were just trying to pound yards up the middle and run some time off the clock,” he said. “We’ve got a bunch of big boys up front and some great athletes and we can spread the ball around. When you have that many talented athletes in the backfield, it makes it really easy to spread the ball around and keep the defense guessing.”
Huettner finished his high school career with 6,870 yards from 2015-18, including 156 in the WIAA Division 6 state championship game, a 43-14 win over Racine Lutheran Nov. 15 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.
Huettner, Kurki and Wandtke practiced for a week with their new team.
“When you’re playing with some of the best, they all have a football mind,” Huettner said. “Everybody knows what’s going on. That’s the most important part when you’re trying to install new offenses and new things, but when you can tell a guy to do something once and he does it, that really helps practice go a lot faster. It’s a credit to everyone on the team to have that football knowledge.”
“Earlier in the week, we were battling the heat a lot,” Kurki said. “We tried to make the most of it. There was a lot of dedication. If you have 11 strangers trying to play a football game, it’s not going to work out very well. I’m glad we were able to create some bonds and come together as a team.”
Wandtke, Huettner and Kurki had not played football since the state championship game more than eight months ago.
“It’s something special when you get to go out on the football field, no matter what the occasion,” Huettner said. “We were chomping at the bit. You should’ve seen the locker room. We were all fired up. I’m sure I’ll be just as excited the next time I come out on a football field.”
For Huettner, that will eventually come at Titan Stadium, as he will play for the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
“I’m super-excited,” he said. “Coach (Pat) Cerroni and the rest of the coaching staff have done a great job of putting Oshkosh in a position to be successful. I’m looking forward to coming over and see if I can help them out. As soon as I heard what they had to say, I liked every word.”
He’s not sure if he’ll see playing time as a freshman.
“We’ll see how it goes this first year,” he said. “I might take a year off, so we’ll see where it takes me.”
Kurki finished with three tackles and won’t be playing football in college. He’s headed to the University of Minnesota to study computer science.
“It’s an honor and a privilege,” he said. “I got to play with 44 great leaders, athletes and teammates. There’s no better way to go out. I got to finish the regular season at Camp Randall with some of my high school friends. That felt awesome, but coming out there and taking care of business felt just as good.”
Meanwhile, Wandtke is headed to Bemidji State in Minnesota to play football.
Players selected for the large-school, small-school and eight-man all-star games raise at least $750 that goes to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin.
“It’s truly incredible how great some of these guys are,” Huettner said. “You get to see some of the best athletes in the state. Not only that, but some of the best guys.
“Just in this one week, I’ve made some friends that I’ll have for the rest of my life,” he added. “There are some really amazing guys here and I’m blessed to have a week to get to know them.”