EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
Jared Meister, Sr., QB, Darlington football
In blowout after blowout this season, Darlington senior quarterback Jared Meister has not been called upon to deliver much of the Redbirds’ high-powered offense. But with it’s high-octane running attack grounded in last Friday’s WIAA Division 6 state semifinal game against top-ranked St. Mary’s Springs, Darlington was forced to the air.
Meister delivered with his best performance of the season in the clutch and earned this week’s Mast Water Technology SWnews4u.com Athlete of the Week. Meister completed 8 of 15 passes for a season-high 187 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winning 17-yard TD pass to Will Schwartz with 12 seconds left in Darlington’s 24–20 victory over the Ledgers.
“We didn’t need a passing game early in the year, and we actually didn’t even practice it a lot,” said Darlington head coach Scott Zywicki. “In the last four weeks, we have worked on our passing game. The practice time we put into it has helped us hone our skills. Jared has been better reading the defenses and recognizing what to do with the ball. He’s delivering a great pass to our receivers.”
Meister has completed 33 of 54 passes for 764 yards and 11 touchdowns this year without an interception.
Darlington advance to face third-ranked Eau Clarie Regis (13–0) in Thursday’s WIAA Division 6 state championship game. The Redbirds, who have reached the D6 title game each of the last three years, are looking for their first state title since 1995.
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Justin Allen, Sr., LB, Lancaster football
Allen was recently named the Southwest Wisconsin Conference Defensive Player of the Year after leading the SWC tri-champion Arrows (10–2) with 65 total tackles, including 37 solo stops, 11 tackles for loss and four sacks.
Tanner Collins, Sr., LB, Potosi football
Collins was recently named the Six Rivers Conference Defensive Player of the Year after leading the Chieftains (5–6) with 161 total tackles, including 33 solo stops.
Hunter Johnson, Sr., RB, Darlington football
Johnson was named the SWAL Offensive Player of the Year on Monday for a second straight year. The University of Wisconsin recruit has rushed for 2,076 yards and 40 touchdowns on 155 carries going into Thursday’s WIAA Division 6 state championship game. He also has eight catches for 173 yards and one TD for the undefeated second-ranked Redbirds (13–0).
Trevor Johnson, Sr., Darlington football
Johnson caught a team-high give passes for 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Darlington’s 24–20 D6 state semifinal victory over top-ranked St. Mary’s Springs. Johnson scored on a 65-yard pass from Jared Meister early in the third quarter, then hauled in a 27-yard halfback option pass from Hunter Johnson with 8:32 left in the game to give Darlington a 17–13 lead.
Lance Lierman, Sr., RB/LB and Ben Sigwarth, Sr., RB, Shullsburg football
Lierman rushed for 104 yards an a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to seal Shullsburg’s 34–6 Division 7 Level 4 playoff victory over Hilbert/Stockbridge and secure the Miners’ first state championship berth. Sigwarth added 110 yards and a two-yard TD in the second quarter that gave Shullsburg the lead for good.
Hunter Matye, Sr., WR, Shullsburg football
Matye was recently named the Six Rivers Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He had a team-high 35 receptions for 549 yards and seven touchdowns for the Miners (11–2) going into Thursday’s WIAA Division 7 state championship.
Will Schwartz, Sr., WR/DB, Darlington football
Schwartz’s only catch was a huge one. Schwartz hauled in Meister pass near the sideline and dragged a St. Mary’s Springs defender across the goal line for the game-winning touchdown with 12 seconds left to lift Darlington to a 24–20 victory in last Friday’s WIAA Division 6 state semifinal game at Waukesha North High School.
Jesse Sturtz, Sr., LB, Darlington football
Sturtz was recently named the SWAL Defensive Player of the Year after leading the SWAL champion Redbirds (13–0) in tackles. Strutz and the Darlington defense have only allowed 6.2 points per game and have recorded six shutouts going into Thursday’s Division 6 state championship game.