HULL, Iowa | Sure, there’s a difference in the two sports, but considering the positions he plays, the leadership qualities Brandt Van Roekel provides in football and basketball are similar.
Thus far, Van Roekel has posted a 13-1 record as Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley’s starting quarterback. The Sioux City Journal’s first Siouxland Athlete of the Week of the 2012-13 school year passed for 200 yards and three touchdowns while leading Class 2A’s top-ranked team to a 34-14 win over No. 2 (1A) Emmetsburg.
Four months after leading Coach Cory Brandt’s 11-1 Nighthawks to the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state playoffs, the 17-year old son of Kevin and Ranae Van Roekel of Boyden helped Boyden-Hull win the 1A state boys basketball championship. A point guard, Van Roekel provided 15 points, nine rebounds, six assists and two steals as Coach Bill Francis’ Comets ended a 26-2 season with a 63-45 thumping of Danville.
“He’s the trigger guy in that offense as well who does a great job of running the show,” said Brandt. “Yes, there’s a correlation in football and basketball because the ball is put in his hands. He touches the ball every play and does what needs to be done.”
Van Roekel, a 6-3, 180-pound senior, credits Brandt for not only simplifying the Nighthawks’ spread offense, he cites the squad’s 15th-year head coach for the time spent in 2010 as Matt Westra’s backup at quarterback. It allowed Van Roekel learning time and the following season, he accounted for 2,091 total yards and 19 touchdowns for the squad that fell 28-7 to Southwest Iowa power Harlan in the 3A quarterfinals.
Emmetsburg is another of the state’s storied football programs. Firing touchdown passes to junior Jerod Hansen (31 yards), senior Colin Bolkema (8 yards) and junior Andrew Van Ginkel (3 yards), Van Roekel also rushed 16 times for 89 yards as Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley prevented the E-Hawks from trying to achieve their third 40-game winning streak in school history.
“We took what they gave us and tried to make things happen,” said Van Roekel. “Emmetsburg was trying to take away our run that allowed the pass routes to the edge in the second half. A lot of our combination routes worked well. Our good athletes went one-on-one to beat them so that made it easier to get the ball to them.”
Hansen had two catches for 109 yards and was one of six who caught passes. Hansen and Bolkema are described by Van Roekel as the speedsters among the Nighthawks’ receivers while another receiver, 6-2, 190-pound senior J.C. Koerselman, is credited for his blocking ability, a factor that leads to those quick passes to the edge.
“The biggest thing I’ve learned is to be patient when you play quarterback,” said Van Roekel. “This is my last go-around, so you give everything you have. You have to be your best with the guys you have. This offense could be pretty good. We’re not on all cylinders yet because there’s stuff we can improve.”
Brandt feels Van Roekel has improved in a pair of key areas -- how he physically prepared himself for his senior season and in his quarterback knowledge.
After all, the skills of his arm and his feet are required.
In a Week 1 48-12 win over Western Christian, Van Roekel completed 3 of 5 passes for 58 yards while also rushing for 98 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown.
“The big thing about Brandt is how he learns and understands the passing game,” said Brandt. “He has learned how to make reads and how to do what he is supposed to do with his feet. When he’s being pressured, he knows where he has to get to. Against Western Christian, he saw an opening and rushed for a touchdown.
“His arm is stronger. He can throw the ball anywhere. He gets his body into it. On his feet, he makes people miss. He’s hard to tackle. He makes stuff happen.”
Van Roekel, who also plays free safety on defense, also knows what it takes to be a leader.
“I take that seriously,” he said. “I try to make sure everyone enjoys what they do. We have to focus to get stuff done and keep everyone on task. That’s how we get better every single day.”
Brooke Wolterstorff, Western Christian …. The senior middle hitter contributed 34 kills, 12 blocks and three ace serves as the No. 2-ranked (Class 2A) Wolfpack went 4-2 and took third place at the Bellevue Classic.
Leah Seivert, Sibley-Ocheyedan …. The junior, who’s ranked second in Class 1A by the Iowa Association of Track Coaches, was clocked in 14:57 while winning the Okoboji Invitational, winning by a margin of over two minutes.
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