By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
Class of 2013 high school graduates Sean Scharlau and Birk Olson spent their entire high school career’s butting heads as Mississippi 8 football rivals.
For one game, the two had a chance to stand on the same sidelines together as part of the 40th annual Minnesota High School All-Star Football Game played Saturday, June 29, at Husky Stadium in St. Cloud.
Olson – the 2012 Mississippi 8’s Most Valuable Player – joined forces with Scharlau – the 2012 Mississippi 8 Offensive Lineman of the year – on the North All-Stars roster. Scharlau was a key component to St. Michael-Albertville’s third-ranked rushing attack in the conference with 1,722 total rushing yards.
“It’s great to play with Sean because he’s always been the guy blocking me before,” said Olson, who graduated with a 4.0 GPA from Monticello and is destined next fall for Princeton University. “It’s nice to have him on my side once. It’s been great.”
The North squad got off to a fast start in Saturday’s all-star showdown, scoring on its second possession to take a 7-0 first-quarter lead on the first of two scoring connections from Perham quarterback Jordan Hein to Maple Grove wide receiver Jake Wieneke. Wieneke eventually was named the North’s Most Valuable Offensive Player on his two touchdown receptions.
Squeezed between the two North TD scores was 24 unanswered South points. The South scores were the results of three rushing TD’s from Winona’s Eric Birth, Hopkins’ John DenHartog, Kasson-Mantorville’s Riley Donovan and a 36-yard field goal from St. Thomas Academy’s Wyatt Schmidt.
With the North squad trailing the majority of the game, the offense was forced to throw the ball nearly every down.
“It was a little different,” said Scharlau, on the number of pass protection plays he had to cover for. Scharlau was used to STMA’s run-first mentality. “It’s just different not having the ball on that 3rd-and-1 coming on your side. But you can get used to it pretty quickly.”
Another reason for possibly the North’s lack of run game was the loss of Minnesota High School Football Player-of-Year and Associated Press Player-of-Year, Bridgeport Tusler of Osseo. The South Dakota State University recruit missed the contest due to a broken fibula suffered in his right leg during a pickup basketball game with his buddies. Tusler rushed for over 1,100 yards and scored 21 total touchdowns as starting tailback for the Orioles last fall.
“It’s a great experience,” Scharlau said. “Even though we didn’t win, getting to know a lot of these guys was great. Maybe someday when I watch football on Sunday’s, I’ll be able to say I played with them back in the all-star game.”
With the majority of the all-stars going on to play college football, only a handful of players are moving on to play at a major Division-IA school. Olson is heading to Princeton, Edina’s Deon Dorvil is destined to the University of Miami, and Rochester Lourdes’ Sam Muehlenbein and Champlin Park’s Andrew Ziegler are University of Minnesota bound.
Olson ended up with eight tackles (7 solo) in the all-star game and was named the North’s Defensive Player of Game.
“Birk’s a great athlete and a great player,” Scharlau said. “He’s going to do great things in life and he’ll go on to Princeton and be a good ballplayer.”
“Birk played well. He was all over the field,” said STMA head football coach Jared Essler. “It was good for the conference to represent like that.”
Even though Scharlau didn’t get to share the same field with any of his former STMA teammates, he did have a chance to briefly meet a few future Tommie teammates in Woodbury’s Ryan Winter, St. Thomas Academy’s Nick Waldvogel, Eastview’s Michael Backus and Apple Valley’s Steven Wilson.
“I thought Sean did real well for how good the competition was,” Essler said. “The next step up will be hard. But Sean’s got a great work ethic and has a great head on his shoulders. He has all the tools necessary to succeed and I expect him to go to (UST) and have a lot of success.”
Since the Knights moved to Class 4A in 2001, Scharlau joins only Matt Spaeth to participate in the all-star event. Spaeth, who was part of the Outstate squad, is currently a tight end for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Five other Knights have also participated in the summer all-star game. Chris Volkman (1998) was named to the Outstate squad when the Knights were in Class 3A. Eric Vollbrecht (1995) and Kris Kortuem (1992) were on the Outstate squad, Vollbrecht as part of Class A and Kortuem in Class B. Other Class B all-stars were John Zachman (1979) for Team North and Joe Marx (1975) for Team South.
Earl Bauman (2000) and Tim Anfenson (2004) also participated in the all-star game as assistant coaches. Bauman for the Outstate and Anfenson for the Metro.
“It was some great experiences and great coaches across the board,” explained a shaky voiced Scharlau, on representing STMA one final time. “I’m going to miss it.”