By ERIC X. VICCARO
Valle Catholic High School football is accustomed to success, and that leads to plenty of postseason awards.
Last week, the Interstate-55 Conference announced Valle Catholic wide receiver Aiden Heberlie was named offensive most valuable player and linebacker Austin Burnett shared defensive MVP honors with Dawson Jakoubek of Jefferson R-7.
The Interstate-55 squad featured first- and second-team selections, along with several Valle Catholic honorable mentions.
Valle Catholic compiled a 10-1 record (including one playoff forfeit win). St. Mary’s of St. Louis eliminated the Warriors in the second round of the Class 3 District 1 playoffs by a score of 55-22.
Fittingly, Valle Catholic was the only team to beat eventual Class 3 state champion Blair Oaks. The Warriors defeated the Falcons, 35-28, on Sept. 25.
Last Saturday evening in Jefferson City, Blair Oaks trampled Maryville 62-40 for the state title in Class 3.
The Warriors outscored their opponents 505-153 this season, with 4,211 yards in total offense. Valle Catholic’s defense surrendered 1,919 yards.
Heberlie turned into one of the premier playmakers in all of Missouri, finishing with 37 catches for 942 yards. He averaged a whopping 25.5 yards per reception.
“Aiden had a tremendous season,” said Valle Catholic head coach/co-athletic director Judd Naeger. “Teams really had to game plan to take him away.”
Other first-team selections on offense were sophomore quarterback Chase Fallert, wide receiver Jayden Gegg, athlete Cory Stoll, kicker Kolten Naeger and offensive linemen Joe Williams and Jacob Calbreath.
“It was nice to see our offensive line recognized,” Naeger said. “They are very young, and we are looking for great things in the future.”
Fallert connected on 96-of-192 passes for 2,039 yards, 28 TD and 10 interceptions. Stoll was the Warriors’ leading rusher with 652 yards on 67 carries. Gegg added 360 all-purpose yards rushing and receiving.
Naeger kicked 50 extra points.
Defensively, Burnett was transformed into the heart and soul of the Warriors.
“Austin was the leader,” Naeger said. “He did a great job of understanding what we were trying to get done on that side of the ball.”
The Warriors had several other first-team selections, including Williams again as a lineman. Kolten Naeger was first-team defensive end while Drew Bauman and Stoll made it as defensive backs.
Mitchell Meyer was recognized as the top special teams ace in the conference. Meyer was a standout on both punt and kickoff units.
Burnett finished with 73 tackle points, including 47 solo stops, to go with eight tackles for loss, one fumble recovery and two passes defended.
Williams and Naeger recorded 12 and 11 tackles for loss, respectively.
Bauman snared three interceptions, returning them 70 yards, and he had 12 passes defended. Stoll recorded 10 passes defended and 32 total tackle points.
The Warriors also had plenty of representation on the I-55 second-teams, with Burnett recognized at tight end, Noah Elbert center, Tim Okenfuss for defensive line, Josh Bieser linebacker and Heberlie again — this time at defensive back.
Jefferson R-7’s Alex Rouggly was named conference head coach of the year. Rouggly piloted the Blue Jays to a 9-3 record and district championship. Lamar then eliminated Jefferson from the playoffs, 42-7.
Valle Catholic also compiled several honorable mentions on both sides of the ball: Bryce Giesler (running back, offense), Collin Vaeth (offensive guard), Charlie Friedman (offensive tackle), Fallert (defense, punter) and Gegg (defensive back).
Naeger said all-district and all-state honors will be released soon, including for academic accolades.