Six Van Meter football players earn All-State honors

Andrew Brown
Dallas County News
Van Meter's Dalten Van Pelt rushes against the ACGC defense on Friday, Oct. 23 in the second round of the Class 1A postseason.

Even with the final whistle days into the past, the Van Meter football team is still receiving honors beyond the 2020 season. 

 Six Bulldog gridiron stars recently earned their way onto the Iowa Print Sports Writers Association Class 1A All-State list. The Bulldogs littered the first-team ranks with five individuals, the most out of any team in 1A. It more than doubled their 2019 first-team list. 

That list for Van Meter included star running back, Dalten Van Pelt, who led the Class 1A ranks with 2,000 rushing yards. Van Pelt continued  a recent trend for the Bulldogs who have now sported a 2,000-yard rusher in three out of the past four seasons. Van Pelt averaged 6.9 yards per carry across a Class 1A-best 289 rushing attempts on the season. Van Pelt ended up capturing second in the Van Meter record books in three different statistical categories for his 2020 campaign, a very impressive note with two fewer games than normal into the equation. 

"Dalten is a good downhill runner who is very smart with the football in his hands," said head coach Eric Trudo earlier this season. "He sees the field well and doesn't try to do too much." 

Van Meter's Calvin Sieck and Lincoln Olsen bring down the Earlham rusher Friday, Sept. 4.

Helping to allow those running lanes to open included Lincoln Olsen. The junior also helped keep Jack Pettit upright as he and the offensive line for the Bulldogs allowed just nine sacks all season long. 

"I can't go without talking about my offensive line," said Van Pelt earlier in the season. "They do such a great job opening up running lanes for me and just giving me the opportunity to be successful." 

Van Meter quarterback Jack Pettit warms up before the homecoming contest against West Central Valley on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020.

Junior Jack Pettit also earned first-team honors after he produced the second-most overall touchdowns by an individual within Class 1A with 36. Pettit also ranked 15th in the class with 1,241 passing yards and an average of 15.3 yards per completion. 

"Jack does a good job in the quarterback role, he's a great athlete," said Trudo earlier this season. "A big thing for a quarterback is to keep ahold of the football and not turn that over and he's done a good job of that this season. He also sees the field well and makes smart decisions with the ball." 

On the defensive end, it should come as no surprise to see Class 1A District 8 co-defensive player of the year Calvin Sieck earn first-team All-State honors. He joined up with teammate and fellow teammate Casey Trudo. Sieck ranked 32nd in the class with 57 total tackles. He was closely followed by Trudo's 55 tackles on the season. What really stood out about Trudo's strong season was his 17 tackles for loss which ranked sixth-best across Class 1A. 

Van Meter junior defensive end Casey Trudo gets to South Central Calhoun senior quarterback Cole Corey in the second quarter of their Class 1A game at the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2020.

Van Meter also had one more individual grace the All-State list as senior Max Gilliland earned a second-team selection as an offensive lineman. He was also part of that strong offensive line that allowed opportunities for positive yardage all season long. He was one of nine seniors to lead the roster in 2020. 

"This senior group has worked very hard and has put in the work ever since they were freshmen," Trudo said. "They've been great on the field but they've been just as great if not better off of it. Great teammates and great football players overall." 

Van Meter senior Max Gilliland celebrates Friday, Aug. 28 after defeating Class 3A's Winterset to open up the 2020 season.