Nolan Young wasn’t expected to be a two-way player for the Tomah High School football team this season.
However, as the injuries piled up, the plan for Young to be a one-way inside linebacker morphed into a scenario in which he rarely left the field.
Young was an important factor for the Timberwolves on both sides of the ball, and his efforts earned him the team’s Leader of the Pack Award. He was presented the award during the team’s annual banquet Tuesday at Cranberry Country Lodge.
As in inside linebacker, Young was the team’s leading tackler. He also took over at fullback when Angel Burkhalter sustained a season-ending injury during Tomah’s second game vs. Black River Falls.
Tomah coach Brad Plueger said Young was a leader on the field and in the weight room.
“For two years, Nolan has been an outstanding leader for our football program,” Plueger said. “His attention to detail and his drive for success has made him into an outstanding player and person.”
The banquet honored the roughly 80 players who competed for Tomah’s varsity, junior varsity and freshman football teams. The Tomah varsity finished 2-7 overall and 1-6 in the Mississippi Valley Conference. One of those victories was a 22-17 triumph over Sparta, which returned the traveling Gold Ball to Tomah after a two-year absence.
“To get that Gold Ball back was such a special moment for our program,” Plueger said.
Plueger said his 16-player senior class had hoped for a better season, but injuries to several starters during the first half of the season took their toll on a team that lacked depth. He credited his seniors for sticking together through some tough games. He said the group “bonded together from the get-go” and that their experience on the football field will teach them how to handle adversity.
“Our kids never started pointing fingers,” Plueger said. “That’s what I will remember about this team. I want to congratulate you for that even though it wasn’t the season you expected.”
Other team awards were:
- Top block—Blake Moseley, senior.
- Top rock (tackler)—Young.
- Heart of a Champion—Burkhalter and Jake Carmichael, both seniors.
- Tomah Sports Booster Club Award—Moseley.
- Tape-it-and-Play Award—Boone Mathison, sophomore.
- Most Improved—Erick Gomez, senior.
- Tomah Youth Football Giving Back Award—Moseley.
Plueger noted that lots of talent is returning in the Mississippi Valley Conference next season. He said for Tomah football to be successful, there must a renewed commitment to the weight room.
“Holmen has 100 in its weight room,” he said. “If you want to compete at that next level, that’s what has to happen.”
Tomah Journal editor Steve Rundio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.