Pierce standout hits Dirty Dozen at No. 9

As we touch base with our first members of the Nebraska "Dirty Dozen", we take you from one side of the state to the other. This stop, number nine, takes us to Pierce, Nebraska. Home of the defending Class C State champs, the Bluejays will look to go for the repeat this year. And you can bet that two-way standout Eric Koehlmoos will have a huge hand if they do happen to make it back-to-back.

A perfect season.

That's what everyone wants, no matter the sport or the level. That's what Pierce managed to accomplish this last season, going wire-to-wire, closing out the season with a 34-28 win over Bishop Neuman.

Now, can they do it again?

That's the bad side of sports and following it. If your team wins it, you want them to repeat. If it's a college team and they get a big-time recruit, you wonder after that, who's next. Well, if Pierce is to make it back to the state final game and come out on top, they are probably going to rely heavily on two-way standout Eric Koehlmoos.

Standing just over six-foot and weighing around 195 lbs, it doesn't get much more ideal when you are projecting a young man to a number of skill positions, and on either side of the ball. That usually means for smaller schools you are playing a lot and for Koehlmoos, he wasn't an exception. "I played running back and quarterback on offense, and I played free safety on defense," Eric said. "I didn't play quarterback too much until later on in the year. So, I only had 59 passes. I completed 32 of those, and I had 695 yards and seven touchdowns.

"At running back, I had 160 carries for 1,326 yards and 31 touchdowns. On defense I had 23 solo tackles, 23 assisted and eight interceptions."

Any questions?

If you hear "Class C", you instantly wonder at the level of competition, wondering if a touted player is really as good as he would appear. But one of the best signs of someone who is not only talented, but determined, is someone who despite the competition or lack thereof, it won't change how they play.

That's Koehlmoos, who has one simple idea about how to play this game. "You have to be aggressive, but you have to be smart, too. And no matter what, you just do whatever you can to help the team," he said. "I mean, I don't think it's much more than working hard, being smart and just being part of a team."

Eric will have one more year to have that opportunity with his teammates at the prep-level, but he, in the future, will undoubtedly find himself in some capacity, with a Division 1-A team. Aside from size and the obvious mentality for the game, Eric boasts a solid 4.53 he ran at a Kansas State camp this last summer.

And according to Koehlmoos, the early returns on what he's done have been pretty good thus far. "Iowa and Kansas State have been sending me hand-written letters, and I have gotten some other stuff from Iowa, Kansas and I know Nebraska came by the school," he said.

Nebraska has been doing a lot of that since Bo Pelini took the reins as the head coach of the Huskers. It's been a time where the publicity has been extreme in trying to cover this new staff and its philosophy of getting everyone in the state involved. While Eric hasn't met Pelini himself, he said that what he said and how he seems to say it, speaks as much for him as anything he might say, personally. "He says everyone is going to get the same shot and I believe him. I think it's an exciting time to be going there or think about it as a place you might go," he said. "I would obviously like to go there, because it's closer to home and you know, everyone grows up just wanting to play for the Huskers.

"The idealism is great, and Eric said that it's good to hear about other kids turning down smaller schools and partial offers, just to walk-on in Lincoln. But if he could have his way about it, he'd like to do that, but with an offer in hand. Walking on is great, but with a year to play and his upside still with so much more room to go up even more, he's keeping things real, but he's looking forward to the future. "I don't have any goals about what I want to do other than just getting bigger, faster and stronger. I just want to become a better all-around player," Koehlmoos said.

Like many kids, there could be a number of camps in his future over this so-called off-season, but he's going to have to wait for his other season to end first. Much like any elite athlete in the state, Eric's contributions don't just lie on a grassy field. He'll be taking his almost 18 points per game average at shooting guard, and with the rest of his team, heading to Lincoln for the Class C state championship.

Pierce will go into this tournament with an unblemished record, 23-0 on the year. One of their potential opponents in this tournament is Class C-rival, Hastings St. Cecilia, featuring amongst others, Matt Sterup. He's also a member of the BRR Dirty Dozen, along with his teammate, running back/linebacker Justin Small.

Koehlmoos' team beat St. Cecilia last year, but Eric remembers Small, and said when it comes to the power back, there's nothing small about him at all. "I just remember that we had a really hard time stopping him. He's the best player I have ever faced," he said. "I know we are all looking at playing them again, because Matt, who is a good friend of mine, is coming back and they have Justin, too.

"It's going to be tough, but it will be fun. Everyone likes competition like that."

Keep tabs with Big Red Report as we will keep you up to date on Eric and the rest of our BRR Dirty Dozen and much, much more.

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