Disterhaupt is News Tribune's Player of YearHIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Moose Lake-Willow River junior Jake Disterhaupt averaged more than 15 yards every time he touched the ball, leading the Northland with 2,276 yards rushing, 40 overall touchdowns and 246 points.
By: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune
Jake Disterhaupt plans to run track for the first time next spring, specializing in the 100, 200 and 400 meters.
But the Willow River junior isn’t a newbie to sprinting away from the opposition — he did it plenty of times on the football field this fall.
Disterhaupt averaged more than 15 yards every time he touched the ball, leading the Northland with 2,276 yards rushing, 40 overall touchdowns and 246 points. The 6-foot-1, 185-pound running back-linebacker led Moose Lake-Willow River to a 13-1 record, its sixth consecutive Section 7AA title and a second Prep Bowl berth in three years.
He becomes the third Rebels player to earn News Tribune All-Area Player of the Year honors in the last five seasons.
“It’s mind-boggling to think that if he had 20 carries a game what kind of numbers he would have put up,” Rebels coach Dave Louzek said.
Disterhaupt’s rushing total is second in school history to Matt Hillbrand’s 2,552 yards in 2000 and fourth all-time among Northeastern Minnesota backs. But Hillbrand accomplished it with 100-plus more carries.
“We’ve had great athletes here, but Jake takes it up another level,” Louzek said.
Disterhaupt was part of a three-pronged attack out of the double-wing — seniors Chris Gassert and Josh Cisar also surpassed 1,000 yards — and all reached milestones despite sitting out the second halves of most games.
“I was surprised with how well I did, especially with two other running backs who did so well last year,” Disterhaupt said.
Louzek said Disterhaupt gave a glimpse of great expectations when he rushed for nearly 700 yards as a part-time sophomore.
“He could have been a starter for us last year and he would have rushed for over 1,000 yards,” the coach said. “But our program shows a lot of loyalty to the seniors, and if we have capable seniors we always go with the senior who has the ability to play.”
Teammates could tell Disterhaupt was a special player, but few could have foretold what a special season he would have.
“Watching him over the past couple of summers, he spent a lot of time in the weight room getting stronger,” senior lineman-linebacker Spencer Clough said. “We knew he was a fast, tough kid. It was just a matter of whether he could read a block and hit the hole hard. He did more than any of us could have ever expected.”
Many of the 2,647 all-purpose yards he totaled came on big plays. Disterhaupt hit the running lanes hard and rarely, if ever, was caught from behind.
“He made my job easy, only having to block for two or three seconds,” Clough said. “It’s just a matter of time before he breaks one. If you hold your block for a couple seconds, he’s already gone.”
Louzek agreed. “We knew he had speed, but when you watch the game film you watch (opponents) have an angle on him and he still outraces them to the end zone,” he said. “That he had that kind of speed was a big surprise early in the year.”
The Rebels rode that speed all the way to the Metrodome and a Prep Bowl meeting with Caledonia. Though they lost 27-0, Disterhaupt looks back fondly without any regrets.
“Winning a state championship would be great, but even though we came up shy you have to look at all the great things we did,” he said. “I definitely look back that this was a great season.”
He said his goal is to play college football at a large university, though he’s keeping his options open with schools such as two-time NCAA Division II champion Minnesota Duluth. Former Rebels standout Nate Zuk, a two-time All-Area Player of the Year, plays for the Bulldogs.
Before then, however, Disterhaupt has one more record to chase. His father, Mark, owns the school record in the 400, and he’s vowed to go after it.
One thing’s for sure: If he gets ahead of the field, nobody will catch him. Just ask his football opponents.