Scottsbluff football players sign to play at next level - Six Bearcats commit to South Dakota, Chadron State, Midland
     2013-03-07      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Elizabeth Gross/Gering Citizen - Four of Scottsbluff's senior football players who have signed National Letters of Intent to play college football sign their letters during a Feb 6 ceremony in the Scottsbluff High School board room. From left are Jon Maag, who signed with the University of South Dakota; and Chadron State signees Ty Dunkel, Randy Wentz and Matthew Klein. That evening at his home, Luke Worden also signed to play at South Dakota, and Tim Magdaleno signed to play at Midland University on Feb. 19. 
SCOTTSBLUFF -- For many college football junkies, National Football Signing Day in early February has become as much of a red-letter day on the calendar as opening day, bowl game day and even the spring intra-squad game.

On that day this year, Feb. 6, five members of Scottsbluff's three-time District B-6 champions signed their National Letters of Intent to play college football.

Four of the Bearcat seniors -- Ty Dunkel, Matthew Klein, Jon Maag and Randy Wentz -- signed their letters together in a ceremony in the Scottsbluff High School board room, and later that evening Luke Worden signed his letter among family and friends at the Wordens' home.

And then on Feb. 19, Tim Magdaleno increased the Bearcat recruits' number to six when he signed his letter.

Maag and Worden signed with the Univerity of South Dakota, a member of the former NCAA Division I-AA now known as the Football Championship Subdivision, while Dunkel, Klein and Wentz committed to Chadron State College. Magdaleno committed to Midland University in Fremont.

South Dakota is an up-and-coming program entering its second year under Lincoln native and former Northern Colorado, Montana and Wyoming head coach Joe Glenn, whose Coyotes were just 1-10 -- not unusual for a team's first year when it is undergoing a major transition under a new coaching staff.

And Maag and Worden are on board with Glenn and 30 other first-day signees in helping to bring success back to Vermillion, S.D. And being a FCS program offers such opportunities of playing some Football Bowl Subdivision schools -- formerly known as Division I-AA -- as the visiting opponent.

“We go to Kansas next year and we go to Oregon in 2014, and the year after that we go to Kansas State. That will be fun playing one of the BCS schools every year,” Worden said, receiving some light chuckles at the mention of the Coyotes going to perennial power Oregon.

Worden said while he and Maag were making their early decisions separately, the fact that they roomed together on their official visit to USD helped solidify each other's decision to become Coyotes.

“We were roommates on the official visit, and it was nice knowing somebody and talking about the school and the coaches and players, so it was nice having him there on the visit,” Worden said.
Maag added: “We really didn’t tell each other until we decided to go there to school.”

Both Maag and Worden were being courted by multiple universities and colleges before they found the South Dakota program to be each other's clear choice.

Maag said he looked at some colleges in Nebraska, Colorado and others in South Dakota before deciding on USD.
“I chose the University of South Dakota because I felt comfortable going there and I felt like I could fit into the school really easily," he said during the signing ceremony. “They were the only one that came up and gave definite number right away. They weren’t try to hold off and see how long they could keep me going.”

Worden concurred that USD became his obvious choice.
“I visited a lot of schools last summer during camps and took some unofficial visits, and South Dakota just really stood out as far as the coaching staff and the facilities, and everything fit there and I really love Coach Glenn," he said.

Worden’s top-three choices included Nebraska, as a walk-on, and Colorado State as a walk-on with a remote possibility of gaining a scholarship.

“Even if those other options would have worked out with full rides, I wasn’t sure if I would even choose those over South Dakota," he said. "I really enjoyed it and South Dakota was definitely my number one option the whole time.”

Maag was Scottsbluff’s leading tackler with 57 solo stops, 56 assists, five quarterback sacks and nine tackles for lost yardage. On offense, where he is going to play at USD, Maag joined Dunkel in anchoring an offensive line that blocked the Bearcats to an average of 315.9 yards of total offense per game – 211.4 rushing and 104.5 passing. Scottsbluff’s defense held opponents to 263.8 yards per game.

In focusing on becoming an offensive guard, Maag will be a red-shirt this fall while adding weight to his frame. He said his first goal is to make the traveling team for the 2014 season.

“That’s fine with me," Maag said of focusing on offense. "I just like playing football.”
Maag said he looks to study either business or business management at USD, which features a strong business program.
Worden said he would start by taking lower-level business courses and then decide on his emphasis later.

On the football field, Worden looks at becoming a defensive back, but his versatility could come in handy for the Coyotes.
“I enjoyed playing just about anywhere, I love defense, and it that meant corner or safety or linebacker, whatever it was, I enjoyed all of it," And the same on the offensive side of the ball, I like catching passes, I like blocking, I like running the ball, so just anything that I needed to do I was fine in doing.”

Last fall, Worden had four interceptions and a fumble recovery with four touchdowns, and he had 295 kick return yards with one more TD. Worden had four interceptions and a fumble recovery with four more TDs, and he had 295 kick return yards with one more TD.

On offense, Worden gained 310 rushing yards and 258 receiving yards with five combined touchdowns.
Benson noted that in the course of the Bearcats' season, Worden played four different positions on defense. “You can’t put a kid who doesn’t understand football in a position like that, so he was very beneficial,” he said.

While Maag pointed to the Bearcats' entire undefeated regular season and third straight district championship as his favorite memory of being at SHS, Worden was more specific about achieving that 9-0, district-winning season.

“That last home regular-season game against Sidney, with the emotions leading up and knowing that if we won that it would give us our third district championship," Worden said of the Bearcats' 35-6 win over Sidney. "And just again, playing with those guys for so long."

Worden and Klein also ran together on the Bearcats' Class B state championship-winning 4x100 relay team last spring, which Worden said is an equally high memorable achievement.

"That was really fun, being with Matt on that," he said. "We have run together since we were on the Lizards since fourth grade. So those were my two favorite moments.”

With three Bearcats going to Chadron State, camaraderie will not only be retained by the three high school teammates but will be extended to include former rivals.

“It think it will be cool to have the guys from around the Panhandle, it will be really nice having these guys I’ve played with since I can remember, back at the Carpenter Center and even Y ball," Klein said. "Being able to play with these guys will continue to be fun.

“I think will be kind of cool to have district opponents and rivals, that once we are there we will be teammates and be part of the football family,” said Klein, mentioning former Gering players like Danny and Patrick O’Boyle and Zach Smith.

Klein, the District B-8 most valuable player and offensive player of the year, also offers great versatility to the Chadron State program.

Klein finished his senior season with 1,405 rushing yards with 18 touchdowns, caught six receptions for 52 yards and one TD, and completed 6 of 8 passes for 109 yards and two more TDs.
Defensively, Klein had one fumble recovery, one interception he turned into a 49-yard touchdown return, 45 total tackles (35 solo), with six for lost yardage, and five quarterback sacks.

“After my official visit, I really started to get a feel for it," Klein said of going to CSC, an NCAA Division II playoff team last season. "I like their coaches, I like the college, I like their facilities, everything they had to offer, and I just felt like it would be a really good fit for me.”

Klein said he also visited Colorado Mesa University, but he said "it was a lot different. I just knew Chadron that was going to be the best fit for me.”

Klein said he has been talking with the Eagles’ receivers coaches, and also possibility of returning punts and kicks.
Klein added, although he would like to play immediately, he would not be surprised to be a red-shirt next fall.
“A lot of it is going to be a matter of eventually putting on some weight,” he said. “Jumping from high school to college football is a lot different, and the size is a lot different having an 18-year-old playing against 22-, 23-year-old guys. It’s going to be a big jump for me but hopefully, I am able to put on the weight, get some strength and gain some speed. I would like to be able to play right away.”

Klein said he is thinking of studying criminal justice or business but is undecided while he finishes his senior year, which could offer more athletic success.

Klein also concurred with the other players’ biggest football memory of finishing last year’s undefeated regular season with a third straight district championship.

However, Klein said his biggest memory from high school athletics comes from last March, on the same basketball court in Lincoln where the defending state champions are looking to repeat this weekend.

“Last year at the state basketball tournament was a pretty big deal, just winning that state championship,” he said. “Just everything around that with the team, my parents, my coaches and even the community, the way we all reacted to it, it was pretty cool.”

Dunkel will likely be a red-shirt in order to build his already large frame into college shape to play defensive lineman.
“I’m hoping I can fit into that tradition and maybe win some championships,” said Dunkel, who plans to major in elementary education.

“I’m pretty excited,” he said. “I really felt comfortable with the education, classroom (sizes) like Scottsbluff.”
As a Bearcat senior, Dunkel finished the season with two fumble recoveries, 42 solo tackles,36 assists with one sack and five tackles for lost yardage.

“This year was really fun, winning districts for the third year in a row with my teammates.” Dunkel said.
Wentz, who is shooting high academically by setting his sights on earning a master's degree in business administration, has his college hopes on kicking long.

“They have a great coaching staff, they have a winning tradition and I like that a lot, and also the coaches put a high emphasis on academic performance, so I liked a lot of things about Chadron. They were definitely my number one choice.”

As a Scottsbluff senior, Wentz had 54 kickoffs for a 52-yard average, hit on 8 of 11 field-goal attempts and 34 of 36 extra-point kicks.

"The coaches said I may get a look at doing kickoffs my first year, and the rest will be determined by training camp," Wentz said.
Wentz and Klein made their official visits to Chadron State at the same time. “I’ve been talking to Dunkel the whole way through, so all three of us pretty much where each other stood,” Wentz added.
Wentz said playing in the Panhandle for the Eagles will be good in
being away from home but still close.

“It will be exciting that my parents and grandparents will get to go up and watch me play," he said. "I think it’s great that I will be close to the community where I grew up.”

Magdaleno said he was planning to join Dunkel, Klein and Wentz at Chadron State by joining the Eagles as a walk-on. But then a call came from across the state from Fremont and Midland University, and NAIA school that participates in the Great Plains Athletic Conference.

"I was going to go to Chadron as a walk-on, but then the running back coach (at Midland, Todd Drury) saw my film and then got a hold of me and invited me down for a visit to see if I liked it and I did," Magdaleno said.

"I really liked the coaching staff and their personalities, and they seemed very way I like the education opportunity seems very positive for my career. I am going there for business, so being close to Omaha will help me get a good job out of school. So it will work both ways."

If Magdaleno offers one big dominant factor on the football field for the Warriors, who were 4-6 last season in their first year under new head coach Josh Gehring, it is his versatility.
In playing primarily at fullback on offense, Magdaleno was third in rushing for the Bearcats with 225 yards on 41 carries, none for lost yardage, and three TDs. Defensively, Magdaleno — after sitting out his junior season — had 50 solo and 45 assisted tackles with five for losses and caught four passes for 43 yards, two fumble recoveries and an interception with an 18-yard TD return.

"I came back after I didn't play my junior year and came back as part of a great team," Magdaleno said."I know how to win, it feels to go win, but I know how to lose too, and that prepares you to be a better athlete."

Magdaleno said he will know by sometime this month whether the Midland staff wants to use him as a true freshman or have him red-shirt for 2014, and also will give him the training program to follow.

"He is both the running back coach and the linebacker coach, so he is talking to me more about being a running back," Magdaleno said of Drury. "Wherever they put me, I love to play."

And that is one common factor among all six of Scottsbluff's signees: They love the game.
The large signing ceremony, plus those of Worden and Magdaleno, left Benson very proud.

"What is more important to me than it is the football aspect, you have these absolutely tremendous young men who are not only committed to the sport of football but are just great people," Benson said. "You never have to worry about these guys in school. So we are really excited to have these guys moving onto the next level."

Share this story on Facebook
LOGIN or REGISTER for exclusive access to premium content

Good Evening friend!
Recently Read Sports
697Scottsbluff football players sign to play at next level - Six Bearcats commit to South Dakota, Chadron State, Midland
1455A league of their own: Gering Organized Baseball
921 Gering falls in straight sets to Ogallala Bulldogs get a break before Nov. 3 district tourney
498Husker greats impart football know how
1011Gering’s Meisner attends college volleyball camps
1020Scottsbluff wins cross country district meet: Gering’s Rebekkah Rawlings, Mitchell’s Celeste Cardona take district titles
683PRCA Rodeo champions give exciting show
723Bearcats' Worden wins double Class B, All-Class state titles
491The Record Breakers
1026All Points West: Luck is not a factor at state wrestling tourney
649Gering volleyball wins one, loses two
614Huge comeback leads West to victory
687Gering finds the zone for victory over Alliance
997Cougar women get 19th win
1807SB Twilight Invitational Track and Field Meet
1036Scottsbluff tennis stacked with experience
926Scottsbluff boys eye state berth
627Lions get first win with romp over Storm
1078Bearcats tennis takes third at North Platte
1032Tennis players to support diabetes group
Most Read Sports 2012
3738Mitchell track off to a strong start
3592Morrill baseball back in business
2893Rivals make good friends, better training partners
2803Mendoza spirit lives on in softball tournament
2457Raising the bar high
2426Gering breaks two records at Chadron: Track season gets underway at Chadron Indoor Meet
2405Kizzire and Kautz take first place
2243Gering wrestling builds on experience
2242Doing the heavy lifting
2139Bulldogs basketball ready to run Class B gauntlet
2121Gering girls’ soccer team creating team first attitude
1974Morrill Lions move to eight-man offers opportunity
1966Gering resident lives his dream
1894All Points West: Time to get tough Huskers
1883Gering Boys’ soccer builds foundation
1881Mud Volleyball has another wildly successful year
1870Bearcat coach nears finish line
1860All Points West: We’ll miss 2016 seniors
1849All Points West: Deter gave us reason to golf
1838Scottsbluff hopes to repeat as state champs
Most Read Sports 2011
3738Mitchell track off to a strong start
3592Morrill baseball back in business
2893Rivals make good friends, better training partners
2803Mendoza spirit lives on in softball tournament
2457Raising the bar high
2426Gering breaks two records at Chadron: Track season gets underway at Chadron Indoor Meet
2405Kizzire and Kautz take first place
2243Gering wrestling builds on experience
2242Doing the heavy lifting
2139Bulldogs basketball ready to run Class B gauntlet
2121Gering girls’ soccer team creating team first attitude
1974Morrill Lions move to eight-man offers opportunity
1966Gering resident lives his dream
1894All Points West: Time to get tough Huskers
1883Gering Boys’ soccer builds foundation
1881Mud Volleyball has another wildly successful year
1870Bearcat coach nears finish line
1860All Points West: We’ll miss 2016 seniors
1849All Points West: Deter gave us reason to golf
1838Scottsbluff hopes to repeat as state champs
Platte Valley Companies
Fresh Foods
American Legacy
Spectrum Photo
Kendell Henderson
= = = Platte Valley Companies' = = =
Sports Page

Check out the
Gering Bulldogs on