EagleHerald/Jody Korch  Marinette’s Jake Poetzl overcomes pass interference to come down with the ball in Oconto Falls this season. Poetzl earned first team All-Northeastern Conference honors at tight end.
EagleHerald/Jody Korch
Marinette’s Jake Poetzl overcomes pass interference to come down with the ball in Oconto Falls this season. Poetzl earned first team All-Northeastern Conference honors at tight end.
MARINETTE — The sights of Matt Eldredge wreaking havoc in the opposing backfield and Jake Poetzl throwing a pancake block were highlights of the Marinette Marine football season.

Both were rewarded by being named to the All-Northeastern Conference first team.

Senior linebacker Adam Wahl made the second team, while junior guard Sean Holk and sophomore tailback Sam Drees earned honorable mention.

Poetzl made the first team at tight end and the second team on defense at utility because he played more than one position. Eldredge made the first team at outside linebacker and the second team offense at utility.

The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Eldredge, a senior, led the Marine defense with 10 tackles for a loss and five sacks. He started in the secondary as a junior but moved to outside linebacker this season.

"Matt is a physical player that is also very intelligent," Marinette coach Andy Walters said. "He has a high football I.Q. and he played his position to the T. Very difficult to run against him."

Eldredge primarily played tight end but he also split out and took direct snaps single wing-style. He ranked 10th in the league with 274 receiving yards on 17 catches, and he scored three touchdowns. Eldredge has the uncanny knack of reaching over defenders and high-pointing the ball. He was an effective run blocker and a vertical threat at receiver.

Like Poetzl, Eldredge threw some devastating pancake blocks. They formed the best pair of tight ends in the league and ranked 1-2 in the NEC in receptions by tight ends.

The 6-5, 225-pound Poetzl, a junior, caught 14 passes for 253 yards and two scores in NEC play. In Oconto Falls he took a short turn-in route and dragged several defenders for a 10-yard ride.

He was a key component in Marinette's power running game.

"Jake is a very physical blocker," Walters said. "For a first-year (varsity) player this year, as the year went on he continually improved. Very coachable kid. He wants to learn, and you could watch him start to develop some leadership ability as well. Untapped potential. He's a kid who can do a lot of things."

On defense, Poetzl primarily lined up at end in Marinette's 3-3-5 defense. Although he can play in pass coverage, the coaches felt he's better utilized with his hand in the dirt at the line of scrimmage.

Wahl, a 6-3, 215-pound senior, made the second team at a loaded inside linebacker position. He was beaten out for the first team by defensive player of the year Mason Rogers of Wrightstown and by Freedom's Matt Verhasselt, another strong player of the year candidate. Rogers and Verhasselt each made the all-region team.

Wahl lined up over the nose guard in Marinette's stack defense.

"A very good downhill player," according to Walters. "He did a very good job of scraping, finding the ball and filling. A very physical football player. Very instinctive."

Turf toe limited Wahl's carries at fullback but he remained a force on defense.

The 5-10, 180-pound Holk isn't one of the bigger linemen but he's one of the tougher ones.

"He's a wrestler so he understands leverage," Walters said.

Holk trap blocks well and is a pulling guard leading the way through a hole when the Marines run power run plays.

"Very consistent as a blocker," Walters said. "Also, we like his leadership skills as well."

NEC opponents had better get used to the sight of Drees patiently following his blockers and exploding through a hole for a big gain. The 5-8, 160-pound sophomore ranked sixth in the league with 556 rushing yards despite starting on offense for about half of the season. He's a strong cover cornerback, and Walters was hesitant about starting a sophomore both ways.

"We had a tough time only playing him on one side of the ball when we saw how effective a runner he was," Walters said. "When he gets to the second level he's got that speed to take it all the way. Just a gym rat kid."

Fox Valley Lutheran senior Zayne Rodencal earned Offensive Player of the Year honors. He gained 1,816 rushing yards in 193 carries, and scored 25 TDs.