Nov. 21—MINNEAPOLIS — Following a tumultuous week, Luke Dingmann got to step in at quarterback and take one more snap.
With the Class A state football semifinals all but decided in a 63-6 win for Minneota over Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa on Saturday, Dingmann lined up at quarterback for the final play of his senior season. He had a 2-yard run before the starters were taken off the field in the fourth quarter to a round of applause from the BBE faithful.
"It means a lot to be out with all the seniors," Dingmann said in the post-game press conference,. "one more play with my guys to end it."
In the buildup to the state semifinals, an air of mystery surrounded Dingmann's status for the game. Eight days before, in the first half of the Jaguars' state quarterfinal win over Mayer Lutheran, Dingmann was injured while making a tackle on defense.
For the rest of that game, he watched from the sideline with a bag of ice on his right shoulder.
"I popped my shoulder out," Dingmann said of the injury.
Then came the semifinals Saturday, and Dingmann was in full uniform warming up with the Jaguars. A black brace was poking out of his white jersey.
Instead of warming up his arm in hopes of slinging the ball across the U.S. Bank Stadium turf, Dingmann was lining up wide and catching balls from wideout-turned-QB Luke Illies.
"It was a lot different than other weeks obviously," Dingmann said. "We knew Illies was an awesome quarterback. We knew I could be somewhat of a threat at wide receiver so we tried. I can't throw with this thing (sling) on."
During the week, Jaguars head coach Chris Moscho and his coaching staff had to play the what-if game. If he was cleared, they wanted to find a way to get Dingmann involved in the offense.
"One of the what-ifs is if he's cleared to play but he can't throw, and that was a tough one," Moscho said. "Even tougher if he can play but can throw 25 to 30 yards."
Moscho added, "Once he got the clear to play and we found out how he could throw with the brace on, it's a no-brainer to put him out somewhere and get him some touches."
His first touch of the game came at quarterback. Dingmann took the first three snaps for the BBE offense before lining out wide the rest of the way as Illies played quarterback.
While waiting for the go-ahead to play, Dingmann imparted some of his QB knowledge to the junior Illies at practice.
"I just told him what I thought when I go through my reads," Dingmann said. "I told him to be confident and do what he does. I thought he did fine."
Dingmann ended up with a team-high three catches, mostly on quick throws to the flat, for eight yards. He also ran the ball twice for eight yards.
"Obviously the game plan was a lot different once the scoring happened," Moscho said. "He was still going to be a part.
"He runs a legit 4.6 40 (yard dash) and anytime he's got the ball he's a big guy to bring down. I compare him to 20 of Minneota (Ryan Meagher). It's tough, he's strong, he's a lot to bring down."
It was far from a perfect ending with the Jaguars being denied a state championship. But, Dingmann's high-school football career ended on a high. He got to soak in some adulation after helping BBE to an undefeated regular season and an 11-1 overall record. And he walked off with his teammates in tow.
Maximus Hanson, an offensive lineman and fellow senior, said it was "definitely a good way to end it."
Dingmann was announced as one of 10 finalists for Mr. Football, the Minnesota Football Coaches Association announced.
He is the only nominee from the field from a Class A school.
In 12 games, Dingmann completed 135 of 194 passes (69.6%) for 1,900 yards, 31 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also ran for 751 yards and 10 touchdowns on 80 carries. He also played linebacker, punter and kicker for the Jaguars.
Joining Dingmann as a Mr. Football finalist is Montevideo running back/linebacker/kicker/punter Francis O'Malley.
O'Malley finished the season with a school record 1,930 rushing yards and 23 rushing touchdowns. He also had a kick return for a touchdown. He helped the Thunder Hawks to a 6-4 record, a five-win improvement from 2022, and the Section 6AAA semifinals.
The eight remaining Mr. Football finalists are: Wyatt Gilmore, TE/DE, Rogers; Savion Hart, RB/OLB, St. Thomas Academy; Ayden Helder, QB, Stewartville; Emerson Mandell, OL/DL, Irondale; Antonio Menard, FB/OLB/DE, Lakeville North; Will Steil, QB/DB/P, Rocori; Maxwell Woods, RB/CB, Chanhassen; and Tanner Zolnosky, QB/S, East Ridge.
The Mr. Football Award will be presented at a banquet at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 10 at the Doubletree by Hilton Minneapolis Park Place Hotel.