The 2013 season brought a lot of change for the Mayer Lutheran football team. Coming off a state tournament run in 2012, the Crusaders returned a talented senior class and made the move from Class AA to Class A, which included teams never before seen by LHS.
“The 2013 football season started with a lot of high expectations,” LHS head coach Dean Aurich said. “We were placed in Class A and knew that the new section placement would be a real challenge. ACGC, BBE, and Lester Prairie/HT all returned quality teams.”
After opening the season with a win over Eden Valley-Watkins, the Crusaders went on to defeat conference teams LeSueur-Henderson, Norwood Young America, Jordan, and Sibley East during the season to finish 5-4 overall. With a 4-3 conference record, LHS finished fourth behind a three-way tie for first between Belle Plaine, Tri-City United, and Watertown-Mayer, the three MRC teams the Crusaders fell to during the year.
The season ended prematurely when the No. 4 Crusaders were upset by No. 5 Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity in a 30-29 overtime loss in the first round of Section 4A in late October. The Bulldogs would go on to win the section and make the state tournament.
“This was an exciting, very intense competitive game ending in an overtime loss for us,” Aurich said. “Yes, it was a disappointing playoff loss, but a lot of character building took place throughout the season.”
Aurich said the season was exciting, challenging, and fun.
“All of our young men were challenged to grow and work on their attitudes and work ethic,” he said. “We had an awesome season and will miss our seniors.”
Those seniors totaled over one-third of 32-man varsity roster including: Chad Anenson, Cole Buttenhoff, Anthony Gruenhagen, Matt Huinker, Joel Burfeind, Nathan Weber, Brandon Wroge, Nick Eickschen, Parker Gentz, Jack Mocol, Mason Diedrick, Daniel Colomina, and Mitch Krause.
Four Crusaders advanced higher on the list of record holders in Mayer Lutheran football history including Anenson, who finished his senior season fourth in extra points scoring, making 28-31 this year, and third in successful field goals for making 6-9 this season, including a 47-yard school record field goal. Anenson also holds the first and second place positions for field goals in program history from the 2011 and 2012 seasons; he has made 26 of 39 field goals and 87 of 96 extra points in his three seasons for the Crusaders.
Gruenhagen finished the year in fourth place for his 716 yards and 44 receptions this year. Burfeind moved into fifth place for all-time rushers with 171 carries for 1,065 yards this year. Buttenhoff is fifth in passing for his 92 completions (of 175 attempts) for 1,279 yards in 2013.
At the conclusion of the season, Burfeind, Buttenhoff, Diedrick, and Gruenhagen were awarded All-Conference honors, while Schlueter and Weber were Honorable Mention. Anenson was named as the Minnesota River Conference’s Most Valuable Special Teams Player.
Team-voted awards included: Most Valuable Player Line (Diedrick), MVP Offense (Burfeind), MVP Defense (Weber), Most Improved (Eickschen), Christian Leader (Buttenhoff), and MVP Special Teams (Anenson).
Taylor Otterstatter and Andrew Wolf will captain the team in 2014.
Contact Melissa Marohl at [email protected]