Luepke is Offensive Player of the Year
By Paul Lecker
The Spencer/Columbus Catholic football team put together another great season, and as a result, a number of Rockets earned postseason awards on the 2017 All-Cloverbelt Conference Football Team.
A total of 11 Spencer/Columbus players were named to the all-conference squad, as voted on by the nine conference coaches.
Spencer/Columbus finished 7-1 in conference play and took second place behind undefeated champion Stanley-Boyd. The Rockets went on to finish 9-2 overall, losing in the second round of the WIAA Division 5 playoffs to Amherst.
Cloverbelt Conference rules allow players to only be selected at one position for the all-conference squad, eliminating two-way players for earning multiple awards.
SC senior running back Hunter Luepke was named Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team pick after rushing for 1,870 yards and 40 touchdowns, averaging 11.1 yards per carry. He added 10 receptions for 233 yards and three more scores. Luepke, a North Dakota State recruit, was also a first-team all-conference selection at running back the past two seasons, and was Offensive Player of the Year in 2015.
Junior offensive lineman Logan Zschernitz and senior linebacker Carson Hildebrandt also earned first-team honors for the Rockets. Hildebrandt, a repeat first-team all-conference performer, led the Rockets in tackles with 119, including 22 for loss.
Spencer/Columbus had six second-team picks – senior running back Jacob Miller, senior offensive lineman Nick Hutchison, junior defensive lineman Nate Karau, senior linebacker Adam Walter, junior defensive back Ethan Meece, and sophomore return specialist Hayden Bauman.
Miller finished with 413 yards rushing and four touchdowns on 10.1 yards per carry despite missing the final four games due to an injury.
Bauman had 322 return yards and had one punt return for a touchdown.
Junior quarterback Jarred Mandel, with 927 yards passing and six touchdowns, and senior wide receiver Lukas Ellefson, 10 catches, 277 yards, and two touchdowns, earned honorable mention status for the Rockets.
Stanley-Boyd linebacker Ben Turner was named Defensive Player of the Year.