MINNEAPOLIS — He may not be a finalist for Mr. Football.
But a panel of sportswriters across Minnesota thinks there was nobody better in the state than Rushford-Peterson senior Noah Carlson.
Carlson was named the Associated Press state football player of the year after rushing for the second-highest total ever in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Carlson, who rushed for 2,785 yards and 41 touchdowns — he accounted for 48 total touchdowns — led the Trojans to their first state tournament since 2008.
Carlson had a 74-yard touchdown run and caught an 11-yard touchdown pass in R-P’s 30-14 loss to Minneapolis North in the MSHSL Class A state championship game Saturday morning at U.S. Bank Stadium. Carlson, who also plays safety, kicks off, punts and returns kicks, was on the field for all but two plays before the benches were emptied Saturday despite suffering a knee injury in the second quarter that left him visibly hobbled.
“I don’t think I was (at 100 percent),” Carlson said after the game Saturday. “But that shouldn’t have mattered. I should have stepped it up a little more and I didn’t. I think I got outworked.”
Sitting next to Carlson, R-P coach Davin Thompson squashed that thought almost immediately.
“This kid never gets outworked,” Thompson said. “He’s going to take the blame for the loss on his shoulders, but that hasn’t been the case since ninth grade.”
Carlson carried R-P to the state tournament but was curiously left off the 10-man finalist list for Mr. Football, the player of the year award from the state coaches’ association.
Thompson expressed disappointment that his star player was left off the list, while Carlson shrugged it off.
“It’d be nice to have,” Carlson said a few days before the state championship game. “But I’m really focused on the team aspect and going for a state title.”
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Carlson and the Trojans may have been stuck with silver after coming up short against the undefeated Polars, but he’s been golden elsewhere in his R-P career.
He was a key part of R-P’s state championship basketball team in 2015. Last spring, he helped the Rushford-Peterson/Houston co-op claim the Class A state team championship. He won three events and has five total state track gold medals in his career.
He has offers from Michigan and Minnesota to compete in track in college, plus heavy interest from Iowa. He has football offers from Division I FCS schools North Dakota State and South Dakota State, while Minnesota has expressed an interest in having him walk on.
He’s said several times he’d prefer to stick to one sport in college and that he was probably leaning to compete in track and field, but nothing was definite.
Carlson is the first local recipient of the AP player of the year, which was first awarded in 1995. Other award winners include Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer (QB, Cretin-Derham Hall in 2000) and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd (Cretin-Derham Hall, 2006 and 2007).
Two Winhawks on team
Two members of the Class AAAA state runner-up Winona Senior High School team received all-state recognition.
Jacob Stanislawski, a Mr. Football finalist, was named to the first team at offensive line. Stanislawski was a two-way starter and leader of the offensive and defensive lines, which were the strength of the Winhawks.
Junior Nick Waldo, another two-way starter, was named to the third team at defensive line.
It's the second year in a row Winona had a player receive all-state honors. Last year Jordan Barthelme was named to the third team as an offensive lineman.