The Middle Border Conference maintained its legacy of excellence by placing a team in a WIAA state championship game for the seventh time in the past eight years.

To maintain that level of success, it takes challenging competition from throughout the conference. That is reflected in the talent on the 2018 All-MBC football team.

Conference champion St. Croix Central leads the All-MBC selections by having 12 players receive placement on the team. New Richmond and Somerset, which tied for second place in the MBC standings, both garnered numerous honors. New Richmond had seven players named to the team and Somerset had six players recognized.

It’s no surprise that SCC has reached the state championship game the past three seasons when you take a look at the all-conference list. Twelve different Panthers received All-MBC honors, with five seniors being honored for their play on both sides of the ball.

Ryan Larson, Austin Kopacz, Keagen Berg, Nate Berends and Garrett Hinrichsen were honored for their dual play. The first four were expected to be the backbone of the team’s success, and they maintained the rich tradition the team has built. Hinrichsen was the team’s biggest surprise, as someone out for the team for the first time this season.

With Larson, Kopacz and Berg, the Panthers had three 1,000-yard rushers, perhaps the only team in the state with three rushers hitting the century mark. Between the three, they rushed for nearly 3,800 yards this season.

The success of the offense couldn’t have happened without an offensive line that had to be rebuilt after last season. Berends was the lone returnee and his leadership was pivotal in bringing the line together quickly. Hinrichsen and Corben Klatt were also first team selections, with Josh Woodington and Luke Holme as honorable mention choices.

Defense and special teams were also areas where the Panthers were among the elite in the conference. On special teams, Derek Myer ranked as one of the best punters in the state. In addition to the five two-way selections, Mike Steinmetz and Carson Hinzman were first team selections, with linebacker Braeden Bloom getting honorable mention recognition.

After the Tigers started the season 0-4, the team needed players to step up. They did. The Tigers were one of the best teams in the area over the second half of the season.

The success was led by improved play on the offensive and defensive fronts. Senior Nick Andersen led the success of the linemen, and he was a first team selection on both sides of the line. The respect for the Tiger defensive front was shown with Christian Germain and Anders LeMire also being named to the All-MBC first team.

Senior Trevor Turner was one of the players who made rapid progress along the offensive front, garnering honorable mention recognition.

In the secondary, Talon Seckora was a complete player, excelling in coverage and in run support.

The offense made a major turnabout when the coaching staff decided on Tim Salmon as quarterback and Joey Kidder at wide receiver. They became one of the premier passing combinations in the MBC. And with both being juniors, they will be the heart of the Tigers’ offensive plans for 2019.

The Spartans have been building around this season’s senior class for several years, and this year the seniors were the leaders in the team’s major upswing. All six Spartans who were accorded with All-MBC honors are seniors, led by Jack Peterson, who was named as the conference’s Most Valuable Player. Peterson rushed for 1,672 yards this season and finished the season with 91 tackles. Peterson has proven incredibly tough and durable. As the fullback and middle linebacker, he’s been the hub of the Spartans’ attack on both sides of the ball for several seasons.

The Spartans saw a major improvement in their line play this season. That resulted in three linemen being named as All-MBC players on both sides of the ball. That includes Hunter Young, Ethan Wegscheider and Bailey Mullenberg.

Quarterback Will Piletich teamed with Peterson to form a multi-threat running game for the Spartans. Piletich rushed for 1,139 yards, making all the quick decisions that helped the Spartan offense to reach its potential.

Roy Hale became the leader of the Spartan defensive secondary. The Spartans struggled in pass coverage in recent years, but that didn’t happen this year and Hale was one of the reasons why.