Relentless efforts place Ozaukee’s Linzenmeyer, CG-Belgium’s Peterson with elite in Central Lakeshore
When he took over the Ozaukee football team this fall, head coach Jim Lippe wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from Devon Linzenmeyer.
But Lippe had a sneaking suspicion the junior running back was poised for a special season.
“We really wanted to move the ball around with a lot of guys and have a balanced offense,” Lippe said. “We knew Devon could be good, but we never thought he would have as many yards as he did.”
By the time Ozaukee got done with a second-place, 6-1 finish in the Central Lakeshore Conference and a two-game run in the WIAA Division 6 playoffs, all Linzenmeyer did was pile up 1,694 yards and 26 touchdowns.
The 5-foot-9-inch, 180-pound speedster averaged 9.1 yards per carry, putting him among the state’s top rushers — despite playing two fewer regular-season games than most other backs.
Linzenmeyer’s eye-opening numbers included a 312-yard effort in a playoff win over Brookfield Academy.
In six conference games, he rushed for 1,026 yards and 19 touchdowns, helping him earn unanimous first-team honors in the coaches’ all-conference voting.
“Devon had a great year and made so much impact, from the first to the last game,” Lippe said. “He’s still really a raw talent, but he continued to get better and stronger as the season went on.”
Linzenmeyer, who also received All-CLC second-team honors as a linebacker, was one of two Ozaukee players named to the first-team offense. The other was senior Josh Paape, an interior lineman.
Paape (6-3, 260) was one of the league’s top offensive tackles. He used his size and blocking skills to help power an Ozaukee offense that racked up 2,878 yards.
“Josh is a really big kid who’s a great drive blocker,” Lippe said. “Having him up front kept our offense going.”
Cedar Grove-Belgium, which finished third in the conference with a 5-2 record, had six first-team selections. Heading the list is junior Nick Peterson, who was recognized as a wide receiver and defensive back.
Peterson (5-11, 162) was one of the Rockets’ most versatile players. In conference games, he caught nine passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 27.4 yards per reception.
On defense, Peterson led his team’s secondary, shutting down opposing receivers to the point where “they had to throw away from him,” Cedar Grove-Belgium coach Chris Zablocki said.
“Nick had a bum ankle all year, but he stayed out there and kept doing a great job,” Zablocki added. “He led by example.”
Peterson was also dangerous running back kicks. He averaged 33.4 yards per return and scored two touchdowns on punts and averaged 25 yards per kickoff return.
The Rockets’ other first-team honorees on offense were running back Alex Giles and interior lineman Andy Van Ess.
Giles (5-9, 168) was the league’s second-leading rusher, finishing with 713 yards and 10 touchdowns despite not playing until the fourth week of the season. A transfer student from Manitowoc, the sophomore averaged nine yards per carry.
“For him to make the first team when he missed that much time is a tribute to his work ethic as well as the play of our offensive line,” Zablocki said. “Alex got more and more confident as the season went on.”
Van Ess (6-2, 275) was one of the conference’s toughest lineman. The senior captain led the front line for a team that compiled 1,732 yards in CLC games, including 1,224 on the ground.
“Andy was a two-year starter and had some big shoes to fill with the players we lost to graduation,” Zablocki said. “He really used his talent and experience well.”
Joining Peterson on the first-team defensive unit for Cedar Grove-Belgium were end Chris Peszko and linebacker Darren Koopman, both juniors.
Peszko (6-0, 223) played defensive tackle last year but made a smooth transition to end, where he helped lead the Rockets’ pass rush. He had three quarterback sacks and was staunch against the run, Zablocki said.
“Chris had a tough challenge in changing positions, but he was so solid,” Zablocki said. “He had an excellent season.”
Koopman (6-2, 212) was Cedar Grove-Belgium’s leading tackler with 26 solos and 78 assists. The totals included 13 tackles for losses, two sacks and two forced fumbles.
A co-captain, Koopman excelled at an inside position, maintaining the Rockets’ tradition of high-energy linebackers.
“He ran our defense and was always around the ball,” Zablocki said.
Champion Oostburg dominated the all-league voting, receiving 13 first-team picks.
Cedar Grove-Belgium had one player given All-CLC second-team honors — Peszko, who was cited as a tight end. A solid blocker, he also caught five passes for 93 yards and a touchdown.
Seven Ozaukee players received second-team recognition, including interior linemen Kevin Haggith (5-11, 194) and Nick Berlick (6-0, 178) on offense. Both are seniors.
Haggith, a guard, and Berlick, a center, were key players in the Warriors’ potent rushing attack.
“They both opened up so many holes for Devon,” said Lippe, who also singled out Berlick’s ability to snap the ball to a variety of players in his team’s offensive formations.
The Warriors’ second-team defensive selections were end Matt Demler, interior lineman Jim D’Angelo, linebacker Linzenmeyer and backs Alex Janke and Jason Gensrick.
Demler (6-0, 220) was tough against the run and pass. The senior had 22 tackles, including seven solos, and “did an excellent job all season,” Lippe said.
D’Angelo (6-1, 212) “had a heck of a year,” Lippe said. The junior finished with 30 tackles, including nine solos.
Linzenmeyer continued his hard-hitting mentality by leading an active Ozaukee linebacking corps. He had 33 tackles (eight solos), and “loved to hit you,” Lippe said.
Janke (5-8, 145) and Gensrick (5-10, 160), both seniors, excelled as cornerbacks. “They were both good athletes who were really solid,” Lippe said.
Janke had 21 tackles (12 solos) and intercepted two passes. Gensrick had 30 tackles (13 solos) and one interception.
A number of local players received honorable mention in the coaches’ voting, including Cedar Grove-Belgium’s T.J. Obbink (quarterback), Jake Weyker (defensive end) and Jonathan Herzog (linebacker).
Obbink threw for 508 yards in conference play, completing 53% of his passes. He had six touchdowns and five interceptions.
Weyker led the Rockets with four quarterback sacks, and Herzog “did a great job at outside linebacker,” Zablocki said.
Honorable mention also went to Ozaukee’s Gensrick (wide receiver), D’Angelo (offensive lineman), Andrew Habich (running back), Demler (running back), Eric Hartnett (kicker), Haggith (defensive end), Paape (defensive lineman), Berlick (defensive lineman), Ben Haas (linebacker) and Hunter Hess (linebacker).
Gensrick was the Warriors’ top receiver with five catches for 185 yards and a touchdown in league play.
Habich and Demler were overshadowed by Linzenmeyer in the backfield but were both solid blockers and runners. Habich had 167 yards and two touchdowns, and Demler had 156 yards and a touchdown.
Hartnett struggled early in the season but still made 20 of 21 extra-point attempts and averaged 43 yards per kickoff.
Haggith and Berlick had 27 tackles and 30 tackles, respectively.
Haas led Ozaukee with 66 tackles (17 solos). Hess had 40 tackles (18 solos) and blocked two punts and two extra-point kicks.
OZAUKEE JUNIOR Devon Linzenmeyer rushed for more than 1,600 yards this season and was a unanimous choice for the All-Central Lakeshore Conference first team. Photo by Sam Arendt