Football: Sauk Valley Media reveals its all-area team for the 2021 spring season

FIRST TEAM

Noel Aponte, Sterling sr. RB – Aponte led the area in rushes (95), rushing yards (655) and rushing touchdowns (10); he also completed 5 of 7 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown on halfback pass plays. He was a first-team all-conference pick by the Western Big 6 coaches.

Connor Barnett, Fulton sr. QB – Barnett led the area with 57 completions, 904 yards & 10 TD passes. He completed 68.7% of his passes (57-for-83) with only 4 interceptions, leading Fulton to a 4-1 record & the No. 3 spot in the AP Class 1A poll. He was named second-team all-Three Rivers Rock.

Booker Cross, Rock Falls jr. RB/DB – Cross ran for 154 yards on 28 rushes in 3 games, as the Rockets’ season was cut short due to a COVID-19 outbreak. He also had an interception on defense, and a punt return touchdown on special teams. He was a Big Northern all-conference selection.

Cole Faivre, Polo sr. RB/LB – Faivre was third in the area with 453 yards, on 63 carries, and he also ran for 5 TDs. He was a disruptive force on defense as well, and was a unanimous first-team pick on both sides of the ball in the Illinois 8-Man North Division All-Association Team.

Jason Farnham Jr., Sterling jr. DL – One of the driving forces behind the Golden Warriors’ league-best defense, Farnham and his mates in the trenches were a big reason why Sterling was able to shut down most opposing offenses. He was a first-team pick on the Western Big 6 all-conference team.

Sean Fitzpatrick, Amboy sr. RB/LB – Fitzpatrick was a bulldozer on offense, running for 373 yards and 3 TDs on 72 carries, and he was an immovable object on defense, anchoring the Clippers’ linebacking corps. He was an NUIC South all-conference selection on both sides of the ball.

Jacob Gaither, Dixon jr. QB/DB – Gaither’s first year at the Dukes’ helm was a prosperous one, as he led the team in rushing (71 carries, 362 yards, 2 TDs) & passing (57-for-103, 621 yards, 7 TDs, 2 INTs). He also had 36 tackles and 3 pass breakups as a first-team all-conference pick in the Big Northern.

Jacob Gusse, Dixon sr. WR – One of Gaither’s favorite targets, Gusse was second on the Dukes with 15 catches for 179 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He was an honorable mention all-conference selection in the Big Northern.

Ryan Heffelfinger, Sterling sr. OL – Heffelfinger anchored an offensive line that paved the way for 1,931 rushing yards on 342 carries, an average of 5.6 yards per attempt. The two-year starter will be heading to play at Illinois State in the fall, and was a Western Big 6 first-team all-conference selection.

Nate Helms, Morrison sr. QB/P – Helms was fourth in the area with 480 passing yards, completing 39 of 76 passes, with 6 TDs & 5 INTs. He also ran for 94 yards & a touchdown, and had 18 tackles and an interception on defense. He was a first-tam QB & a unanimous pick as punter in the TRAC Rock.

Kellen Henze, Eastland jr. QB – Henze led the Wildcatz in rushing (307 yards, 3 TDs) and was second in the area with 724 yards on 56-for-103 passing, with 5 TDs & 7 INTs in his first year of high school football. He was a second-team all-conference selection at QB & punter in the NUIC South.

Trevon Jordan, Sterling sr. DE – A nightmare for opposing tackles, Jordan wreaked havoc on the line of scrimmage and in the offensive backfield. The Northern Illinois University recruit was also disruptive by often forcing opposing offenses to use an extra blocker to chip on him.

Ryan Kendall, Milledgeville sr. RB/LB – Kendall ran for 240 yards and 2 touchdowns on 52 carries, and also caught 9 passes for 122 yards and another score. A strong tackler and anchor in the middle of the Missiles’ defense, he was a unanimous first-team pick on both sides of the ball by the NUIC South coaches.

Cal Kyker, Dixon sr. WR – Kyker was Dixon QB Jacob Gaither’s top target, finishing with 17 catches for 182 yards and 2 touchdowns. He and his fellow wideouts provided plenty of opportunities for the Dukes to stretch the field and take shots deep down the middle or along the sidelines.

Damon Miller, Milledgeville sr. RB/LB – Miller was the other beast in the backfield and the middle of the Missiles’ D, joining Kendall in making life tough for the opposition. He ran for 362 yards & 4 TDs on 76 carries, and was a unanimous all-NUIC South pick at linebacker & a first-team selection at running back.

Brett Newman, Newman sr. LB – The kid with the same last name as his school was the latest in a long line of linebackers to anchor a stout Comets defense. A true ball hawk, Newman was able to flow from sideline to sideline making tackles and helping prevent big plays from the opposition.

Kyler Pessman, Fulton sr. RB/WR/KR – Pessman was an offensive weapon all over the field for the Steamers, finishing with 26 rushes for 225 yards & 5 TDs, and leading the area with 18 catches for 369 yards & 5 more scores. He was a unanimous first-team pick in the TRAC Rock on offense & special teams.

Nate Portz, Fulton sr. OL/DL – Fulton’s dominance in the trenches on both sides of the ball was led by Portz, who helped open holes on offense and close them quickly on defense. The three-year starter was a unanimous first-team all-TRAC Rock pick on offense and a first-team selection on defense.

Ethan Rash, Fulton sr. RB/DL – A wrecking ball for the Steamers on both offense and defense, Rash was second in the area with 532 rushing yards & 8 TDs on 68 carries, and he also caught 6 passes for 67 yards & a TD. He was a unanimous all-TRAC Rock pick on offense and a second-team selection on defense.

Will Rude, Newman jr. DL – An absolute bulldog as an undersized nose guard, Rude played a lot bigger than his diminutive size. He was a TRAC Rock second-team all-conference defensive lineman, and also became the first Sauk Valley player to be named Friday Night Drive Team of the Week MVP in Week 2.

Nick Simester, Sterling sr. LB – Simester was a tackling machine for the Golden Warriors, taking advantage of the stout defensive line in front of him to make stop after stop at linebacker for the Western Big 6 champion Golden Warriors. He was a first-team all-conference selection.

Andrew Velasquez, Newman sr. RB/LB – Velasquez had a nose for the end zone this past spring, leading the Comets with 394 yards & tying for second in the area with 8 TDs on 67 rushes. He also had 21 tackles, 4 TFLs and 2 sacks as a unanimous all-conference running back and a first-team linebacker in the Three Rivers Rock.

Nolan Vesley, Newman sr. OL/DL – Another in a long line of standout offensive & defensive linemen to anchor the trenches for the Comets, Vesley was tough to move on both sides of the ball for Newman opponents. He was a first-team all-TRAC Rock pick on offense & a second-team selection on defense.

Parker Wolber, Polo sr. RB/DB – Wolber was a speedy outside threat for Polo, and finished fifth in the area with 412 yards while tying for second with 8 TDs, on 75 carries. He also caught 5 passes for 111 yards & 2 TDs. He was a second-team 8-Man North All-Association pick on both offense & defense.

HONORABLE MENTION

Amboy – Lane Boehle, Joe Quest, Trevor Vaessen, Justin Wicaryus

Ashton-Franklin Center – Carson Rueff

Bureau Valley – Alessandro Bertolani, Layton Britt, Evan Eckberg, Carter Haney, Brodie Hansen, Eli Kruse

Dixon – Justin Dallas, Hunter Gehrt, Jericho Kirby, Quinn Staples

Eastland-Pearl City – Kamden Baber, Wyatt Baber, Tyson Clark, Christian Fischer, Logan Krell, Caden Kuberski, Gavin Sigel, Jaxson Sturtevant, Carson Witt

Erie-Prophetstown – Kolby Franks, Jase Grunder, Mason Misfeldt, Brody Naftzger, Jacob Otten, Connor Sibley, Logan Wheeler

Fulton – Will Conner Jr., Josh Huizenga, Jacob Jones, Brock Mason, Endi Qunaj, Kole Schipper, Keegan VanKampen

Milledgeville – Daniel Lohnes, Logan Meiners, Ashton Nobis, Nick Smith, Colton Stahl

Morrison – Alex Anderson, Justice Brainerd, Thomas Dauphin, TC Ottens, Nathan Schaefer, Tyson Smith, Aaron Wolf

Newman – Jake Ackman, Brennen Cook, Jacob Donald, Owen McBride, Nate Neubauer, Brady Stevens, Ethan Van Landuit

Oregon – Breccan Berns, Anjel Chavez, Adam Glendenning, Andrew Herbst, Kyle Strite, Wylee Rice

Polo – Joey Bardell, Brady Clark, Avery Grenoble, Tyler Merdian, Wayde Reimer, Bennett Soltow, Brock Soltow, Julian Warczak

Rock Falls – Jordan Jones, Ryan McCord, Max Parker, Dillon Schueler

Sterling – Alejandro Arellano, Cameron Beasley, Jahshawn Howard, Drew Kested, Alex Knapper, Nate Ottens, Carter Ryan, Kael Ryan, David Tessman

West Carroll – Devin Davis, Noah Drake, Andrew Lee, Alex Mull, Ashton St. Ores