Yanz family makes football history
History was made this past season on the grass of Todd Field at McNamara Stadium, though it passed unnoticed to many. During the Raiders win over the Hill-Murray Pioneers at the beginning of September, the third generation of a prominent Hastings family continued his family's legacy and accomplished a feat that surpassed what his father could do in a whole season.
Max Yanz, the grandson of Bierstube founder Larry Yanz and the son of Jim Yanz, followed in his father's and grandfather's footsteps by playing a varsity football game on Todd Field. However, unlike his predecessors, Max did it for the opposing team—as quarterback of the Pioneers.
Max, a sophomore, is playing his first year of football since eighth grade, after playing soccer as a freshman, and began the season as a wide receiver. However, when the starting Pioneer quarterback got hurt, Max was moved to quarterback when the coaching staff learned of his experience at the position from when he played flag football.
Heading into the week before Hill-Murray played the Raiders, Jim had a feeling.
"I told him, I said 'watch, your very first game, I have a feeling you're going to get in at Hastings,'" Jim said. "I just thought that he would get some time. I said, 'you're going to double the amount of touchdown passes that I threw on that field, my home field.'"
Jim proved prophetic as the Pioneers rotated Max and another quarterback during the game. Then, with Hastings up 36-0 at the end of the game, Max one-upped Jim on his old man's turf.
With just a couple minutes left in the game, Max led the Pioneers down the field and threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to break up the shutout.
"It was a nice swing pass that he threw, led (the running back) perfectly," Jim said. "The running back who caught it just leveled the guy on the 1-yard line. It was pure will that got him in the endzone. You would have thought we won the Super Bowl on the Hill-Murray sideline."
Jim played for Hastings in the early 1980s and split time as varsity quarterback during his junior year. He was put in during passing situations throughout the season, but threw just one touchdown pass at Todd Field that year but it was called back, he said, because his best friend (the center) did not hear the audible Jim called and was flagged for being an ineligible man downfield.
In one game, playing for the opposing team, Max threw for more varsity touchdowns than his father ever had at Hastings, though Jim had thrown plenty on the field at lower levels. Sure, the math doesn't work out—one is not a double of zero—but, Max has the opportunity to extend that mark if he continues to play quarterback as the Pioneers should return to Todd Field his senior year barring any schedule changes.
"I was just a combination of nervous and scared. I've never been that nervous or scared at the same time in my entire life," said Jim, about watching from the visitors section during the game. "Just because, you know, he's my first born and it all came so fast. It was pretty cool to see him on the same field that his grandpa was on, and the same field that I was on. He's a Yanz, he's a Hastings kid, kind of."
"I'm so proud of him, he's such a humble kid," Jim said. "He's calm under pressure, too. After he threw that touchdown pass he did exactly what I thought he would do, he ran to the sideline to get the kicking tee."
Not only is Max a quarterback, but he also kicks for the Pioneers. After the Hastings game, Max was promoted to the starting quarterback and also to punter. However, he soon suffered an injury that has kept him out the latter part of the season, though he is still able to kick and even made a 22-yard field goal in overtime to give the Pioneers their only win of the season over the Simley Spartans at the beginning of October.
Larry Yanz, who founded the family's first Bierstube in Hastings, was a part of the 1948 Hastings Raiders football team that went undefeated and did not allow a score until the last game. That Raider team was passed over for the state championship by the state's sportswriters in favor of a one-loss Blaine team, a contentious topic to this day, and finished the season ranked second in the state.
The Yanz's are a sports family, and their rooting interests depend on the season. Max also plays basketball, just like his dad, and also has a burger named after him at the Bierstube locations. The "Max" burger, featuring bacon and american cheese with sauteed mushrooms and BBQ sauce.