HAWARDEN, Iowa – During postgame interviews after his team captured its second consecutive state football championship, West Sioux Coach Ryan Schwiesow had a huge smile on his face when reminded he will have quarterback Hunter Dekkers for another season.
“I’m glad,” laughed Schwiesow. “I might see if he can fail a few classes and stay around for two years.”
Needless to say, Dekkers is the kind of player that doesn’t come around that often. The 6-3, 225-pound junior is gifted with a physical skill set that few his age possess, which he utilized to lead his team to back-to-back state championships.
Dekkers, honored today as The Sioux City Journal Football Player of the Year, put up pinball machine-like numbers during his junior season. The tall lefthander completed 61 percent (208 of 341) of his passes for a state-leading 3,641 yards and 48 touchdowns.
En route to piloting the Falcons to the Class 1A championship – a season after they won it all in Class A – Dekkers also rushed for 574 yards and seven scores.
West Sioux won 12 in a row after a season-opening loss to Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley, defeating three unbeaten teams in a row in its final three playoff contests.
“It was a great year for West Sioux and a fantastic year for Hunter,” Schwiesow said. “I think Hunter felt pretty comfortable with all his receivers this year. He wasn’t scared to distribute it to everybody, there wasn’t just one guy and that made it really hard on defenses.”
Dekkers was at his best on the biggest stage, passing for 391 yards and five touchdowns and rushing 18 times for 120 yards and a touchdown in the Falcons’ 52-38 victory over Dike-New Hartford in the 1A championship game at the UNI-Dome.
“It’s kind of sunk in a little more re-watching the film, I’ve probably watched it about eight times,” Dekkers said. “I keep watching it and enjoying it, it’s just such a cool feeling.
“All of the receivers got open and Kade ran the ball well and that helped the passing game work. Everyone doing their job is what made the team so special this year.”
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Dekkers had the luxury of throwing to junior Kade Lynott and senior Chase Koopmans, a pair of all-staters, among others. That certainly helped, but Dekkers’ ability to find the open man and his pinpoint accuracy, sometimes while on the run, is what sets him apart from most quarterbacks.
“I’ve been told that he is a once-in-a-lifetime quarterback and I’ve been fortunate enough to have a couple of good quarterbacks come through in Porter Hummel and Hunter,” Schwiesow said. “There’s no doubt that we get on the headset as coaches and he’ll make a play and we’ll say we’re glad that dude is on our team. It’s definitely the great equalizer, no doubt about it.”
Dekkers showcased that running ability in the championship game, breaking loose for a 25-yard touchdown to cap the victory with 1:30 remaining.
“We didn’t run Hunter much by design because we knew going in he was your cash cow, so to speak,” Schwiesow said. “He’s a lot faster than what people give him credit for and a very capable runner. We didn’t run him a lot because we wanted to keep him healthy throughout the year but we had to he could definitely run it, too.”
Already one of the most talented quarterbacks in the state with one season remaining, Dekkers said there is room for improvement.
“Every time I step on the field I feel I have to improve in some area,” Dekkers said. “I always try to play to the best of my abilities but I don’t always so there’s always room for improvement. I just study what I can do to get better.”
Dekkers works in the offseason with a group from Sioux Falls called Air Attack Academy.
“His arm strength is there and his touch is getting better all the time,” Schwiesow said. “His presence of reading coverages, he’s getting better with that all the time and I think he’s going to do even better next year.”
That is a scary thought for opponents next fall who will be attempting to prevent a Falcon “three-peat.”