EDITOR'S NOTE: The SWNews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
Jaylen Rufenacht, Sr., RB/DB, Black Hawk/Warren football
Rufenacht played a key role in Black Hawk/Warren's 34–7 WIAA Division 7 state semifinal victory over Oshkosh Lourdes and is deservingly this week's Mast Water Technology SWNews4U.com Athlete of the Week. The senior running back rushed for a game-high 159 yards and two touchdowns, caught a 7-yard TD pass and added a two-point conversion run to help put the game out of reach.
The Warriors jump ahead 14–0 with 3:41 remaining in the half, but the Knights quickly answered with Bauer teaming with Ruedinger on a 29-yard TD strike with 34 seconds remaining in the period to cut the gap to 14–7.
A nice return by senior Andrew Slichenmyer on the ensuing kickoff set the Warriors up at their own 41-yard line with just 25 ticks remaining in the half, and then a 52-yard jaunt by Rufenacht moved the co-op to the Knights’ 7 with time running out. On the final play of the half, Rufenacht hauled in a 7-yard TD pass from Ethan Williams to extend the lead to 20–7.
The teams traded turnovers to start the second half. The Warriors fumbled away the ball at their own 42-yard line to start the third quarter, but got it right back when Williams intercepted a Caden Chier pass tipped by Rufeancht and returned it to the Warriors’ 46. Seven rushes later, Rufenacht scored from three yards out to put the Warriors up 26-7.
Rufenacht found his back into the end zone for the third time in the game midway through the fourth quarter as he capped a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive with a six-yard score to complete the hat trick.
HONORABLE MENTION (In alphabetical order)
Riley Christensen, Sr., QB/LB, Belmont football
Christensen was recently named the Great-8 Co-Player of the Year after Belmont to a 9–3 mark and a second-place 5–2 finish in the Great 8 Conference, in its first year playing 8-player football. Christensen completed 50 of 107 passes for 854 yards, 11 TDs and five interceptions, rushed for 1,960 yards and 30 TDs on 250 carries, and caught six passes for 211 yards and 3 more TDs. He also recorded a team-high 108 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, three sacks and five interceptions to earn first-team All-Great honors on defense.
Isaac Lindsey, Sr., QB, Mineral Point football
Lindsey earn SWAL Offensive Player of the Year honors after completing 136 of 201 passes for 2,379 yards, 27 TDs and only eight interceptions while leading the Pointers (12–1, 7–0) to a second-straight conference title. Lindsey also rushed for 488 yards and eight TDs on 86 attempts.
Cayden Milz, Sr., LB, Black Hawk/Warren football
Milz was recently named the Six Rivers Conference Defensive Player of the Year. Entering Thursday's WIAA D7 state championship game, he had 81 total tackles, 11 for loss, four forced fumbles and two interceptions. He also rushed for a team-high 1,593 yards and 22 TDs on 176 carries to earn first-team All-SRC honors at running back.
Caden Straka, Sr., DE, Lancaster football
Straka was recently named the SWC Defensive Player of the Year after finishing the season with 66 tackles, including 20.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks, while leading the Flying Arrows to a 9–2 record.
Ben Udelhofen, Sr., QB/LB, Potosi/Cassville football
Udelhofen was recently named the Six Rivers Conference Offensive Player of the Year after completing 71 of 133 passes (53.4 percent) for 1,244 yards and 20 TDs, and rushing for 520 yards and 7 more TDs in 11 games for the Chieftains (8–3, 4–2).