It's clich, but true team success leads to postseason honors and that's the case with the 2012 South Tama football team.
The Trojans improved from a 2-7 record in 2011 to a 9-3 record this fall. They were rewarded with a handful of postseason honors on the district and state level.
South Tama seniors Kyle Stephenson and Sam Kuhter were honored by the Des Moines Register for their seasons. Joining them on the Iowa Newspaper Association's award list were seniors Trevor Rohach and Erik Lux. Seven more STC players were also honored on the Class 3A District 4 team.
"I'm glad for these four guys who made the all-state team," coach Jay Hoskey said. "That's something to remember forever. You can tell your grand-kids that you were an all-state player. It's also good for our program. The younger kids see that realize that they can do that. We've broken that mold that we can produce all-state players and hopefully those younger kids work hard to reach that level, too."
Stephenson was the Trojans lone first-team selection for the Register's Class 3A All-State football squad. The Trojans leading running back led 3A in rushing yards with 2,133 yards this season, which was 266 yards more than the next best rusher. Stephenson also scored 28 rushing touchdowns, four more than the second-best player.
His longest run of the season was a 95-yard scamper during the Trojans regular season game against Grinnell. Stephenson averaged 6.5 yards per carry this fall. He also caught six passes for 150 yards and one touchdown.
"We weren't a one-trick pony, but I'll tell you that particular pony probably pulled a lot of the load," Hoskey said. "The great thing about what Kyle was able to do was his teammates felt like they were a part of his success with him. They all recognized his talents and they decided that we were going to run the ball and play physical. He enabled us to do that this year, along with the kids that got stronger and more physical. We were able to play a game different than what we had the last couple of years. We played a lot more ball control and Kyle was a big factor in that."
Kuhter was chosen as the Register's 3A All-State Second Team punter. He attempted 34 punts and averaged 39.1 yards per punt, which ranked sixth in 3A. However, the five players above him attempted five or fewer punts. His longest was a 63-yard boot this season.
"Early in the year, I thought he punted better," Hoskey said. "Later, he was playing offense, defense and everything and his punting fell off a bit. He was excellent for us. He also contributed in so many other ways. He had four interceptions as a defensive back and he ran our offense. He made some big plays at opportune times, especially with his legs in a couple of games. Teams had to play us more honest after the Boone and Ballard games."
Kuhter and Stephenson were also chosen to the first-team INA All-State 3A football team. They were voted on the team by sports writers from around the state.
"You still have to promote them a bit," Hoskey said. "(Stephenson) leads the state in rushing and scoring. Even after that long kickoff return, he leads in the state in kick return average. It's kind of a no-brainer for him to be on the first team, but hope everybody feels the same way you do."
Stephenson ranked third in kickoff return average with a 35-yard average. The two players ahead of him returned only one and three kickoffs, while Stephenson returned 11 this fall. His longest was a 91-yard return during the Trojans finale at Grinnell.
Joining Stephenson and Kuhter on the INA All-State team were Rohach and Lux. Rohach was selected as a second-team offensive lineman, but he also played on the defensive line all season for South Tama. He even played a full back during the playoffs.
Rohach helped the Trojans offense that ranked fourth in 3A in scoring with an average of 33.5 points per game. Defensively, Rohach ranked third on the Trojans team with 70 tackles, 65 of which were solo tackles.
"Trevor made tremendous progress this past year," Hoskey said. "We also knew he had talent and some toughness. He went from a guy that could play 70 percent of the plays to a guy that never came off the field and gave supreme effort all of the time. As a nose guard, I think he was our second or third leading tackler and usually nose guards don't get all that many tackles, because they are plugging holes or taking on double teams. He was able to get that done."
Lux was the fourth STC player on the INA All-State team. Lux was selected to the third-team defense. He played linebacker for the Trojans and ranked second on the team with 77 tackles and two interceptions.
"We played Erik out in space a lot," Hoskey said. "As a linebacker, he had to do a lot of things. He usually played the wide side of the field or played to the strong side of the formation. That made it so he had to take on blocks and still make a tackle.
"Our other linebacker didn't usually have the blocks to take on to make a tackle," he added. "He was strong enough to take on blocks, make plays in the running game and also do a good job of covering the flats and taking care of the short passes."
South Tama was also well-represented on the 3A District 4 All-District team. Trojans on the team were Kuhter, Stephenson, Lux, Rohach (defensive tackle), senior Vinny Lasley (defensive end), senior Austin Lowe (linebacker) and junior Ian Slagle (offensive lineman). Lowe led the Trojans with 108 tackles, while Lasley had 69 tackles this fall. They had three and five sacks, respectively. Slagle helped the Trojans powerful offense.
Four STC players were chosen All-District Honorable Mention. They were senior Jose Fonseca (tight end), junior Garrett Hoskey (defensive end), senior Kaleb Davenport (defensive back) and senior Clay Waterbury (defensive back).
Fonseca caught nine passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns this year. On defense, Hoskey had 36 tackles, 10 of which were for loss, including five sacks. Davenport recorded 40 tackles, meanwhile Waterbury added 38 tackles. They each caught four interceptions for the Trojans. Davenport returned one interception 101 yards for a touchdown.
"We would have liked to get a couple more guys on the all-district team," Hoskey said. "I thought a couple of guys were deserving of that recognition. You take what you can get. It's a nice honor for the guys who were chosen."