Champlin Park senior played in June 29 all star game
As he slowly walked off the football field at Wayzata High School late last fall, Andrew Ziegler thought it was over.
For the better part of five years, this is what Ziegler and his core of teammates at Champlin Park had dreamed of.
A playoff game against a power like Wayzata with a state tournament trip on the line.
In an instant, however, it was gone.
“That was tough, because we had worked so hard to put ourselves in that position,” said Ziegler. “We just wished it has a better ending.”
For some, it wasn’t the end. A handful of Champlin Park graduates will be playing football in college next fall.
Ziegler isn’t one. He’s heading to the University of Minnesota to study Physics. He’s got a plan that stretches well beyond the football field.
“Andrew didn’t play football because that was where is future was,” said Champlin Park head coach Mike Korton. “Andrew played football because of his friends.”
As it turned out, none of them would be by his side when it did officially end last week.
Ziegler was Champlin Park’s lone representative in the June 29 Minnesota Football High School All Star Game at St. Cloud State University.
That sentence alone still catches the linebacker off guard, but it is also one he was taking very seriously.
“I want to represent my school well, especially my teammates back home,” Ziegler said. “There are some very good players on our team that maybe deserved to be here too.”
Nonetheless, Ziegler’s appearance was deserving on its own merit.
He was the rock in the middle of the Champlin Park defense this past fall, lining up against powerful running attacks from the likes of Wayzata, Eden Prairie, and Centennial twice – Cougars running back Michael Diggins was among the all-star selections.
More so, he was playing much of the season on a broken foot that required surgery over the winter.
Ziegler didn’t even bring the injury up. Korton wasn’t surprised.
“Andrew doesn’t make excuses, even if he has a pretty good one like playing on a broken foot,” Korton said. “He really gutted it out for us all year long.”
He did the same in rehabbing the ankle so he could still throw for the Champlin Park track and field team in the spring, and of course, make his final appearance on a high school football field last weekend.
He lifted throughout the offseason, preparing like he would have if a college football career was beckoning.
“I wanted to be ready,” Ziegler said.
He looked to be while running the North Team defense was his middle linebacker position, which was a 4-3 formation that looked a lot like what the Rebels have run over the years.
Fitting in on the field was the easy part, he said. Walking off of it Saturday at Husky Stadium on the SCSU campus was going to be anything but.
“This is it, so it will probably be pretty tough” Ziegler said. “I do feel it is a great way to cap off my football career. This is the only all star game I am going to ever play in. That kind of makes it even more special. I am going to enjoy it.”