Twice is nice: Moose Lake-Willow River's Disterhaupt player of yearPREP FOOTBALL: Jake Disterhaupt, a senior at Willow River High School who lives in Sturgeon Lake (population 439), is the latest from the area to become a two-time News Tribune All-Area Player of the Year in football.
By: Rick Weegman, Duluth News Tribune
A football factory lies within a five-mile radius of tiny Sturgeon Lake.
In the same area that produced former Moose Lake-Willow River standout Nate Zuk, another player with similar abilities recently finished his high school gridiron career.
Jake Disterhaupt, a senior at Willow River High School who lives in Sturgeon Lake (population 439), is the latest from the area to become a two-time News Tribune All-Area Player of the Year in football. Zuk, from nearby Denham, won in 2007-08.
“It says a lot about the families in this area,” Rebels coach and Willow River athletic director Dave Louzek said. “When you look at the small community and school of Willow River, to have those kinds of athletes come through, it’s hard to explain. The kids work hard and take advantage of the opportunities in front of them and make the most of it.”
Disterhaupt rushed for 1,614 yards — averaging 9.3 yards per carry — and scored 30 total touchdowns running, receiving and returning kicks to lead the Rebels to a 13-1 record and their second consecutive Prep Bowl appearance. He finished second to Matt Hillbrand in program history with 4,608 career yards rushing.
As in 2011, Moose Lake-Willow River’s season ended with a loss to Caledonia in the Class AA championship game. This time, the contest came down to a Caledonia field goal on the final play.
“When you get so close to the thing you wanted the most, it’s always hard,” Disterhaupt said. “But now that I think back on it, you can’t say one team is better than the other because it was so close. Out of 10 games, we win five, they win five — maybe we win six. But that’s my bias showing through.”
The 6-foot-1, 192-pound Disterhaupt has had more to think about lately than that heartbreaking end to the season. On the final day of a three-day tour of the University of North Dakota a week and a half ago, he gave an oral commitment to attend the Football Championship Subdivision school.
“I loved everything about it,” Disterhaupt said about his official visit to the Grand Forks campus. “The people seem nice and I really liked the coaching staff and the team. I haven’t found anything that I haven’t liked about the college except for the wind.”
North Dakota had offered Disterhaupt a scholarship last spring, but he held out to see who else was interested. The Minnesota Gophers continued to talk to Disterhaupt throughout the process, but ultimately wanted him to walk-on to the team. He also engaged in dialogue with fellow Division I schools Iowa State, North Dakota State, South Dakota State and Northern Iowa.
“I talked to other colleges, but one day it came to me that ‘Why am I talking to other colleges when clearly I like this place the most?’ ” he said about North Dakota. “They liked me as a person. They said, ‘We don’t just recruit athletes, we recruit good people.’ I thought that was the best compliment I could have.”
Disterhaupt, who played cornerback on defense at MLWR, likely will play safety in college. Still, kick returning, punt returning and even some running back could be in his future.
“I’d much rather hit people than be hit,” he said.
Louzek has no doubts that his pupil will excel at the next level.
“He’s so driven to be successful in football,” he said. “I think he’s going to be even faster and stronger and will do well in college.”