Pirates land 11 players on Tri-County All-Conference Football Team
After completing his third season as head coach of the Boonville Pirates football team, head coach Greg Hough said this team has to be one of his favorites in his 15 years of coaching.
Although the Pirates fell short of their goals of reaching the playoffs, the 2020 season was different to say the least with COVID lurking every week up until game time.
Nonetheless, Boonville managed to finish its third straight season with a winning record at 6-4 overall and 3-3 in the Tri-County Conference.
Although it was a shortened season for some in the TCC, Blair Oaks Falcons still claimed the crown with an undefeated season at 6-0. Southern Boone, meanwhile, finished second at 3-1, followed by California at 4-3, Boonville at 3-3, Hallsville at 2-2, Osage at 2-4, Versailles at 0-3 and Eldon at 0-5.
The coaches in the Tri-County Conference also announced the 2020 all-conference team.
Boonville had a total of 11 players selected in 15 positions on offense and defense.
Players heading the first team in the TCC were junior DJ Wesolak at H-Back on offense and Lane West, Wesolak and Jamesian McKee on defense.
West and Wesolak were both selected to the defensive line for Boonville was McKee was one of the top four defensive backs in the TCC.
Second team selections on offense were Andrew Wiser at running back, Peyton Hahn at offensive line and DaWan Lomax at both H-back and returner.
Second team selections on defense were Harper Stock at linebacker, Lomax at defensive back and Charlie Bronakowski at punter.
Honorable-mention all-conference selections were Saylor Marquez at offensive line and McKee at wide receiver.
On defense, Evan Gonzalez was selected honorable-mention all-conference at linebacker while freshman Ross Brackman was named to the team as a kicker.
Hough said that he was happy with the amount of kids that got selected to the all-conference team. But does that mean there weren’t some players left off the list? Hough said there were some kids on the roster that probably deserve some recognition for sure, but this is a team game and all of the kids from top to bottom helped individuals succeed.
As far as the conference as a whole, Hough said he thought the TCC was extremely top heavy. He said Blair Oaks is on a different level compared to everybody else.
“They’re definitely head and shoulders above everybody else, and then you had teams like Southern Boone, California, Hallsville and us were right there and you knew those were going to be good ballgames. We were able to avenge one of our losses against California, but Blair Oaks got us twice.
“I thought there were a lot of good teams and a lot of good players in the conference. I think our kids are well respected by opponents and coaches and I think that says a lot.”
Junior DJ Wesolak definitely lived up to his reputation on both offense and defense. With over 20 offers currently from Division I schools, Wesolak was the only first team selection on offense and defense for the Pirates.
On offense, Wesolak finished the season with 21 carries for 187 yards and three touchdowns at the H-Back position. Meanwhile, on defense, the junior standout finished with a total of 59 tackles with 19 tackles for loss, 8 sacks, 2 caused fumbles, one fumble recovery and one blocked field goal.
Hough said Wesolak is one of the most athletic players on the defensive side of the ball in the area.
“I thought DJ really came into his own as an aggressive pass rusher off the edge and when we got physical and played physical, he was remarkable,” Hough said. “And then on offense, he’s able to do so much with jet sweeps, catching the ball at the wide receiver position and running the ball.”
Senior Lane West also held his own playing opposite of Wesolak at the defensive end position. A three-year starter for the Pirates, West finished third in team tackles with 63 but ranked first in tackles for loss with 23, sacks with 13 and fumble recoveries with four.
Hough said West has a motor that is unmatched by many. “When you watch a game in person, or watch a game on film, you can see Lane as a constant goer,” Hough said. “The rest is just getting him in the right spot and I think this year at the defensive line was the right spot.”
Senior linebacker Harper Stock also found a home at the inside linebacker position for Boonville. As the team’s leading tackler the last two seasons, Stock definitely stepped up to the occasion in 2020 while finishing as the leading tackler with 87 tackles. He also had 10 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 4 caused fumbles and one interception.
Hough said Stock is a player that goes out and does whatever you ask him to do. “Harper is not a naturally gifted athlete, but he makes up for it in heart,” Hough said. “He’s been a strong staple of our defense. I think Harper knows his worth, and he just plays with a big smile on his face.”
McKee is also one of those unheralded players. Although his first love is baseball, the junior standout definitely stepped up to the plate his season for Boonville as a first team defensive back and honorable-mention at wide receiver.
While playing in only eight games due to an ankle injury, McKee still managed to finish the season on defense with a total of 18 tackles, two tackles for loss and one caused fumble. On offense, McKee had 16 catches for 290 yards and two touchdowns while rushing 20 times for 125 yards and two scores.
Hough said McKee is another player that is a multi-sport athlete. “Jamesian is the type of kids that could play any position, whether it’s at quarterback or wide receiver,” Hough said. “He dealt with some injuries but for a quarter and a half against Pleasant Hill, he had two catches for like 100 yards and some change. He’s a kid moving forward in the future that we want more out of him. We, as coaches, have to be creative and find ways to him to have the ball in his hands because he is such a threat. He’s our fastest kid on the team, and probably our best man to man at press technique. He’s a next level kid if he wants to pursue football because of his ability and God given size and talent.”
Junior DaWan Lomax also fits that mold as a do everything player for the Pirates.
While listed at three positions on the all-conference team, Lomax was probably at his best at wide receiver. While finishing with 14 catches for 220 yards and three touchdowns, Lomax also had 19 rushes for 213 yards and three scores. Meanwhile, on defense, Lomax finished with a total of 27 tackles with 1 tackle for loss, 2 interceptions, one fumble recovery and one caused fumble. As a kick returner for Boonville, Lomax had one return for 73 yards and one touchdown.
Hough said every time Lomax touched the ball, he was a threat.
“He caught the ball and ran the football for us, but his breakaway ability and his ability to make people miss defensively is what separated him from most,” Hough said. “He’s just an electric player on both offense and defense.”
Hough will also have one of his top offensive and defensive lineman returning next season in junior Peyton Hahn. While playing center on offense and defensive line for the Pirates, Hough said Hahn was probably in the top five at his position on both sides of the ball.
While leading the way for a 1,000 yard passer and 10 rushers, who combined for over 1,917 yards on the ground, Hahn also finished the season with 44 tackles on defense with 16 tackles for loss, 3 sacks, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery and 1 blocked punt.
“I think Peyton was probably one of the best centers in the league,” Hough said. “On defense, I believe we have three of the best linemen in the conference, but when you’re looking at six or seven teams, people aren’t going to say, well, Boonville should have all these kids. Peyton knows he’s a good football player, and we as coaches and his teammates know he’s a good football player. I think that should be his motivation going forward to next season. He can look at this conference and know that his name should be on it on defense, but at the end of the day he is going to be successful at whatever he does.”
Senior running back Andrew Wiser is another player that was probably better than his second team selection.
While rushing for 846 yards on 128 carries and 14 touchdowns, Wiser also finished the season with a total of 15 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions and 1 fumble recovery.
Hough said Wiser is one of those kids that the coaching staff knew was going to carry a big load this season. “I really think Andrew came into his own this season once the run game got a lot simpler,” Hough said. “You could just see his confidence grow. I think the biggest compliment to him was in the final game, where he rushed for over 100 yards against Blair Oaks. No other back did that this season. I think had we played Eldon, he would have definitely been over 1,000 yards this season.”
Senior Saylor Marquez will also be missed on both sides of the ball for Boonville.
While playing left guard on offense and defensive line, Hough said Marquez’s role changed a little bit this season because he was asked to do a lot on both sides of the ball.
On defense for the Pirates, Marquez finished with a total of 20 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and one sack. “Saylor is a very good athlete,” Hough said. “He’s kind of got that mentality where he’ll get in there and battle with anybody. Saylor is also a good story in that he didn’t come out until midway through his sophomore year. Not only is football in his future if he wants it to be, I think he took advantage of his time on the football field and had a great career.”
Charlie Bronakowski also made the most of his time on the gridiron. Although basketball is Bronakowski’s game, the senior standout was recognized as one of the best punters in the conference for the second year in a row.
Bronakowski finished the season with 24 punts for an average of 34.3 yards per punt with a long of 56 yards and five punts inside the 20. He also played wide receiver on offense and finished with 13 catches for 266 yards and three scores.
Hough said Bronakowski had such a huge impact on the team, even though basketball is probably his first true love.
“From the snap to the kick, Charlie was probably one of the best around,” Hough said. “He was just a great kid to have on our team. I think his impact and what he did as a Boonville Pirate football player will forever change some of the mindset, and maybe some of the actions of others moving forward.”
The play of senior linebacker Evan Gonzalez also speaks volumes even though he is a lacrosse player first.
While finishing second only to Harper Stock in tackles with 80, Gonzalez also finished the season with 5 tackles for loss, one fumble recovery and one blocked punt.
Hough said Gonzalez’s coachability made him a really good player. “Evan is just one of those players you call a “dog” because no matter what the score is or the situation is, he’s going to go hard,” Hough said. “He was very well respected by his teammates and had a great year. I just wish we would have had him as a sophomore, but he took advantage of the one year we had with him and had a great season.”
The good news is that Hough will get another three years with freshman kicker Ross Brackman.
Although Brackman didn’t take over the kicking duties from Bronakowski until midway though the season, he still managed to finish the season 17 of 22 on PATs.
Hough said he knew Brackman had some kicking ability but mentally wanted him to grow during the season. But that changed midseason, where Brackman had been put in some situations and got some varsity kicks. “I think Ross made like 7 of 8 kicks early on, and then after his first miss, came back to hit seven straight,” Hough said. “The second night he was 5 of 6 after missing the first one. He just built some confidence and was over 80 percent on PAT for half the year.”