Area teams excelled on the offensive side of the ball, but defense is a vital component to a football game.
The inaugural All-Union defense features all-state selections in Sigourney-Keota’s Brady Duwa, New London’s Gavin Holmes and Washington’s Trashaun Willis.
Many worth candidates were considered during two days of reviewing area teams’ statistics.
2019 All-Union Defense
Zayne Laws, junior, Washington, defensive line: At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Laws was a physical presence and an active on the Demons defense. He had 21 solo tackles and 26 assisted from his tackle position. His 34 total tackles included six tackles for loss and three assisted TFL. He had two sacks.
Gavin Holmes, senior, New London, defensive line: The New London defense wasn’t quite as dominant as last year, but their senior leadership up front still helped the Tigers get back to the Class 8-Man playoffs.
Holmes led the Tigers in tackles in his senior year, finishing with 61. He also had six solo tackles for a loss and one fumble recovery.
Jack Baker, Mid-Prairie, defensive line: Baker helped the Golden Hawks improve from a 3-6 team last season to 6-3 this season. Baker was a first team all-district selection and led Mid-Prairie in tackles for loss with 12, which was third in the district. He had 32 total tackles (24 solo and 16 assists). Baker also caught 16 passes as an end.
Cael Lyle, junior, Pekin, defensive line: Lyle’s seven tackles for loss, three assisted tackles for loss and three sacks led the Panthers this season. he had 21 solo tackles and 29 assisted.
Trashaun Willis, junior, Washington, linebacker: Willis was a third team all-state selection last year as a sophomore and made second team this season. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound middle linebacker displayed speed in his game, finishing first on the Demons in tackles last season and second this season. He had 51 total tackles (32 solo and 38 assists) and tied for the team lead in tackles for loss with nine which included a sack. He also intercepted a pass.
Keegan Kohorst, senior, Mt. Pleasant, linebacker: Kohorst technically plays defensive line for the Mt. Pleasant defense, but an overload of talent in the trenches places Kohorst a tad behind his usual position for the 2019 team.
Kohorst made it tough on the opposing defense all year long, finishing second on the team with 46.5 tackles. He also led the Panthers with three solo sacks, putting him in the top five in the district.
Wyatt Stout, junior, Washington, linebacker: A first team all-district pick, Stout had 27 solo tackles and 40.5 total. he had six tackles for loss. As a running back, he was fifth in the district in yards rushing and fourth in touchdowns scored with 14.
Drew Martin, senior, Fairfield, linebacker: Nobody had more tackles for the Trojan defense than their senior linebacker, who was a star for Fairfield in 2019.
Martin’s 60 total tackles topped his teammates by over 20. He also finished the season with four solo sacks, third best in the district, and had one fumble recovery on the year.
Brady Duwa, Sigourney-Keota, defensive back: It didn’t take many games before coaches knew to avoid throwing in Duwa’s direction. Yet, he still finished tied for first in Class 1A in interceptions with nine. He was second in return yardage with 192 including one for a 70-yard touchdown.
Dillon Sanders, senior, Washington, defensive back: Sanders led the Demons in tackles this season with 51 and interceptions with three, one of which was returned for a touchdown. Sanders had 32 solo tackles and 38 assists.
Brevin Wilson, junior, Mt. Pleasant, defensive back: In his first year as a starting defensive back, the Mt. Pleasant junior hounded opposing passing games all season long. Wilson led the Panthers with six interceptions this season, and finished 11th in Class 3A with 72 interception return yards. His biggest game of the year came on the road against Keokuk, where he picked off three passes and returned one all the way back to the end zone for a pick-six.
Owen Donovan, junior, Highland, punt returner: Donovan was a second team all-state selection. Teams began kicking away from Donovan due to his ability. He wa first in Class A in yards per return at 24.9 (minimum 10 returns). He was second in number of returns. He was 10th in kickoff return yards with 259 on 10 returns including on for an 83-yard TD.
Carter Ferrel, senior, kick returner, Fairfield: Ferrel was basically the ultimate utility player for the Trojans in 2019, stepping up to play quarterback in his senior year and also starting on defense, but he gets his spot on the 2019 from his special teams work.
Ferrel finished the season with 211 kick return yards on the year, averaging 23.4 yards per return. His biggest play of the year came in the final game of the year when he ran back a 90-yard return for a touchdown against eventual state runner-up Solon.
Landen Schafer, junior, kicker, Fairfield: Schafer was a special teams star for the Fairfield football team this season, both in the kicking game and the return game, but he gets his spot on the team as a kicker.
Schafer hit all three of his field goal attempts this year, including a 40-yard field goal against Mt. Pleasant. He went 7 of 9 on extra point attempts.
Jacob Ford, junior, Winfield Mt. Union, punter: The junior punter for W-MU bombed kicks all season long, netting 41.5 yards per punt on the eight-man field.
Ford’s 12 punts went just shy of 500 yards this season, pinning opposing offenses deep all season. His longest punt of the season reached 50 yards.
The 2019 All-Union football team was chosen by sports editors Andy Krutsinger and Doug Brenneman.