Top Three Scorers and Defenders Return for a Shot at State
by Norm Newell
Photogrphy by Jeremy Petrick Photography
That’s right, they’re back. Three all-conference football players for the Hillcrest Comets, quarterback/linebacker Sean McGuire, running back/linebacker Kyler Newman and wide receiver/safety Reggie Undseth are all back as seniors this fall. They are the three top offensive and defensive leaders returning from their 9-2 team last year and hope to lead the team to the promised land of the state tournament. Last year they lost in the section final to state powerhouse Underwood by 5 points.
New head coach Evan Newman is enthusiastic about the possibilities for the season. Newman, an assistant coach the last two seasons, has stepped in with the departure of prior head coach Charlie Brue.
“I’m excited for this coming season for our players, our parents and our many followers as we have these three talented leaders back,” states Coach Newman. “We also have an athletic, energetic and knowledgeable nucleus around them. I strongly feel we’ll be hard to stop and exciting to watch. Part of playing sports is giving your best to win. But why I coach and why these kids play isn’t all about the W-L’s. These kids will always play hard and give it their best, but in true Hillcrest tradition they will be humble in victory and defeat. They understand it’s about giving glory to the Lord, and appreciating their parents and the students and fans cheering for them.”
“Our four captains, Sean, Kyler, Reggie and Sam Isaac are all very mature for their age and understand that football in the fall helps set the tone right away for the school year,” Newman adds. “These captains know that how they treat the younger players and how they respect all the girls and boys in our student body, in school and out, can make the Hillcrest experience rewarding for all. They are super teammates to all players on our team and they treat adults and other students alike with respect. Their football stats and accomplishments are excellent, but their respect for others transcends football stats and I’m very proud of them for that. I watch how they interact off the field with their fellow players and other students and see they really enjoy doing stuff together with kids across the spectrum of the Hillcrest student body.”
So, what makes Sean McGuire, Kyler Newman and Reggie Undseth top scorers and defenders? Coach Newman has several answers for that.
Reason #1 | They have football experience
All three players got significant playing time their freshman year. McGuire played linebacker on defense and put in some time at tight end and running back. Newman started at linebacker, third on the team in tackles, and got a full game in at running back besides spot duty there. Undseth played at cornerback with spot duty at running back. The young team finished 1-7.
Their sophomore year, they were all starters and helped the team to a 5-4 record, playing in the same defensive positions. Offensively, McGuire had a breakout year as a receiver with 17 catches, and saw fill-in duty at quarterback and on a number of running plays. Reggie Undseth and Kyler Newman stepped into the starting running back roles and led the team in rushing throughout the season. Undseth went for 609 yards on the ground, Newman 550. Undseth also had 141 receiving yards, and with returning kicks, he led the team with 935 all-purpose yards. These three players accounted for 138 tackles for the team on defense, and Newman led the team with 9 tackles for losses. They also accounted for 6 of the team’s 9 interceptions on defense.
Last season, their junior year, they played the same defensive positions again, but offensively they took on different roles and the team went 9-2. McGuire stepped into the quarterback position and flourished. He completed a staggering total of 153 passes out of 270 attempts for a 56.7% completion rate. He passed for 2,036 yards, meaning he can throw the ball down the field for completions, and threw for 26 TDs with only 6 interceptions. He had an overall quarterback rating of 147.3, with anything over 100 considered quite good…you do the math. Newman took on the primary running back role and rushed for 853 yards, also catching 39 passes for 518 yards, for a total of 1,371 yards from the line of scrimmage. Fans, that’s really good in any league. Reggie Undseth moved into the primary wide receiver role and was McGuire’s go-to guy with 45 receptions for 733 yards, averaging over 16 yards a reception.
You can easily see now why Coach Newman is excited about this coming year and expects his team to go up and down the field. Defensively, these three players were 2nd, 3rd and 4th in tackles behind departing all-state defensive player Chris Tungseth. A defensive highlight for the season was Undseth setting a school record with 9 interceptions on the season.
Reason #2 | They are talented athletically
Sean McGuire is a three sport athlete, not only excelling at quarterback in football but also as a pitcher and shortstop in baseball, which he says is his favorite sport. He also plays guard and forward in basketball. He’s had a number of colleges contact him already about playing baseball and has had a couple of contacts about football, notably Moorhead State. Per Coach Newman,” I really think he could play college football at the quarterback position. He has a tremendous arm, can throw the ball accurately 70 yards, and he sees the field well. I know colleges would like him at the pitcher spot in baseball too.” McGuire says if he went to a small college he may look at football in the fall and baseball in the spring, if he went to a larger college he might try out for baseball.
Kyler Newman, besides being the man at running back for the Comets this year, is also a top guard on their basketball team, and he considers basketball his favorite sport. In the spring, he concentrates on weightlifting and conditioning for football and basketball. In basketball he was the 6th man as a freshman and started his sophomore year, but missed a number of games with injuries. His junior year he was the starting shooting guard and was second on the team in scoring. He’s played AAU basketball in the summer with other star players in western Minnesota, playing in tournaments in other states also. Nothing for sure yet, but he’s considering NDSCS for college and would try out for the basketball team there.
Reggie Undseth is also a three sport athlete, playing basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring. In basketball he started a few games as a freshman, started most games as a sophomore, and started on last year’s 26-1 basketball team. He’s played baseball since his freshman year where he played outfield, but moved to shortstop and 2nd base his sophomore year. He also pitches on occasion. Asked what sport is his favorite, “whatever the season” was his answer. “I like the changes in seasons and activities” he says. He went to football camp at Concordia College in Moorhead and they’ve talked to him about coming there as a defensive back. UMD has some interest in him for baseball. Nothing is decided yet but he would possibly play baseball and/or maybe football depending on the college. He says he would choose the college fit first before worrying about playing sports.
Reason #3 | They are mentally strong
Coach Newman says about all three players, “They are all very good students in the classroom, but also good students of the game they are playing. They have played enough football and other sports to know what it takes preparation-wise and on the field of play to be successful. That especially includes being self-less. I could put any one of these three at any position on the team and not only would they be good at it athletically, but they wouldn’t care where, they would do anything for the team and its’ success.
He continues, “They don’t care who gets the stats. They understand a team sport is not about them and their individual goals, it’s about their roles in the team format and being the best they can be at their role.”
Coach Newman gives football examples by pointing out how well Sean can see the field and read the defenses to find the open man; how Kyler can read the running back holes and hit them quickly and hard; and how Reggie can run an excellent pass pattern to get open, as well as read the other team’s pass plays to be in a proper position for interceptions.
Reason #4 | They have something special
“Sean is a very smart quarterback, sees the field very well, has great arm strength and is a vocal leader,” says Coach Newman. “He has the potential to be the all-time Hillcrest leader in passing yards. Newman goes on to say, “Kyler for his size runs very hard, can run over people. He has good hands as a receiver, and as a teammate, he won’t let anyone pick on anybody else…he looks out for his teammates. Defensively, he could be the all-time leader for Hillcrest in tackles.” Comments on Reggie Undseth include, “A great safety, he reads the plays so well. He will likely be the all-time leader in interceptions for Hillcrest. As a teammate, he thinks about everyone else above himself, and his prayers after practice reflect a very mature and thoughtful process.”
Reason #5 | They are great teammates
“These young men will make great captains, because they are excellent teammates to their fellow players,” states Coach Newman. “They know in football that team camaraderie and supporting each other is the key to being successful.” He notes that they do their work in football practices, but also make it fun for all the players on the team, regardless of ability.
The team concept came through clearly when I asked each of the three players what were the top two things they were looking forward to this coming season and the number one answer for each of them: “Being with the guys, giving it all with our teammates”. Their consensus that nothing is more exciting in football than a teammate making a big hit or great play, no matter who it is on the team makes it very clear that each of them values their teammates and the team experiences the most. Each of them recognize they could do something special this year and are very much looking forward to giving it their all in their senior season.
These boys at a young age have grasped a firm understanding of what sports are all about, i.e. doing everything you can to do your best and enjoying the season journey with your teammates.
Fans, catch their games and join them in their journey, it will definitely be exciting.
Look out Class 9-Man Section 4 football…Sean McGuire, Kyler Newman and Reggie Undseth are back!