LODI — Lodi senior Jacob Heyroth couldn’t believe his eyes or ears as the football team rolled into town escorted by fire trucks late on Thursday, Nov. 16, after winning the WIAA Division 4 state championship.
The Blue Devils’ return caravan from Camp Randall Stadium had taken them through the town of Dane before it reached Lodi on Highway 113.
The program’s first state football title was theirs, and it seemed the entire Lodi community was in attendance, wanting to rejoice. The streets were lined and the school — located about a minute from where Heyroth lives — became the celebration destination.
“It was an amazing moment,” Heyroth said. “Every kid dreams of winning the state championship when you are in youth football, and we actually did it. It is a crazy feeling.
“We were coming from Camp Randall, the fire trucks from Dane and Lodi were escorting us, and the whole Main Street was filled up and they were honking their car horns. The gym was filled until like 12:30 a.m. It was awesome. The atmosphere in Lodi was unreal.”
The good vibrations have continued, particularly after the 6-foot-1, 193-pound Heyroth was named The Associated Press State Football Player of the Year for all he did for the Blue Devils while playing running back, outside linebacker and return specialist.
That, Lodi coach Dave Puls said, was the highest honor any Lodi football player had ever received.
“It means a lot,” Heyroth said. “I put in a lot of work throughout the years. To get that big of an award means a lot. I trained really hard in the offseason. You have to give props to the O-linemen. It was a great line. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Heyroth, who led the state with 2,909 yards rushing (including postseason), now can add another honor. His season total ranks fourth in state history.
As a result, Heyroth has been named the Wisconsin State Journal/WisconsinPrepZone.com All-Area Football Player of the Year.
“He’s a great athlete and a super kid,” Lodi offensive coordinator Karl Sachtjen said. “I coach him on the offensive side of the ball and he’d do anything we asked. … He’s just a super, super athlete. He could do anything.”
Heyroth carried 35 times for 151 yards, scored the game’s first touchdown on a 6-yard run and added seven tackles in Lodi’s 17-10 overtime victory over Hammond St. Croix Central.
That score gave him 41 touchdowns overall: 36 rushing, one receiving and four on returns (three punts, one kickoff).
“I knew I would take a pounding in the finals,” Heyroth said. “But I knew it was my last high school football game and I gave it my all.”
His statistics might have been even more staggering but the coaches limited his carries during the regular season in preparation for the playoffs as lopsided games led to decreased playing time.
“Having him fresh in the playoffs and being able to grind out some yards in those tough games was a real big factor,” Puls said. “He’s got the speed. He’s got the agility. He’s got the acceleration. But he also packs a punch. He runs like wants to run through a wall.”
Heyroth, also a leader on the Lodi wrestling team, has eagerly played multiple positions since he took up youth football in fourth grade.
This season, he was a standout on defense, totaling 8½ sacks while learning his reads as an outside linebacker after seeing some time at defensive end last year.
“He is a real instinctual football player on the defensive side of the ball,” Puls said. “He’s very fast and very physical. Nobody lives in the weight room more than he does. He’s a weight-room junkie. And he’s very conscious about his nutrition.”
Heyroth, who hopes to study business in college, said he has had football interest from NCAA Division I and II schools, including Minnesota (where he has visited), North Dakota and North Dakota State. For now, Heyroth is savoring the championship season.
“It really has just re-energized and put a spark into the whole community,” Puls said. “I knew it was going to be special. But I didn’t know how special it was going to be to so many people. It’s amazing how much this has meant to a small community. … It’s been insane. It means the world to our whole community.”