It's the end of an era in Goodhue. Next fall, head football coach Tony Poncelet will open the season with a running back likely short on varsity experience at the position. And for the first time in a half-decade, the name that gets called over and over on the PA speaker won't be "Huemann." Well, probably not.
Mason Huemann, the Wildcats' senior running back/linebacker, played his final game in the Class A state quarterfinals, a loss to Mayer Lutheran on Nov. 11. A three-year varsity career came to an end, and with it a run of four Huemann boys who have led Goodhue in rushing yards since 2012.
But Dylan, Riley and Garett, who all had success, will have to accept that the little brother — the 2017 Republican Eagle Player of the Year — trumped them all. Mason ran for 1,760 yards and 23 touchdowns this year, and for 4,071 yards and 49 touchdowns in his career.
"He's put up crazy numbers for three years. To finish your career over 4,000 yards says a lot about you and your team," Poncelet said. "There's some games where he had only four carries. And in some big games, he had 45. And unfortunately, last year at playoff time, he came down with pneumonia. This year he was healthy, and he was an impact player on both sides of the ball."
Those totals could be more impressive, but Mason had several games throughout his career where he wasn't needed after halftime. Yet he also managed to put up big games when the opponent spent all week preparing to stop just one person: Mason.
"I knew everyone was keying in, so everyone just had to work hard and I had to push myself to get better in practice," Mason said.
But Mason's impact wasn't only on one side of the ball. He was in on 118 tackles this year, and almost 300 in his career.
"He has a nose for the ball, he has great vision and you could see the game slow down for him the last three years," Poncelet said. "As a sophomore he got in there and was just 100 miles per hour straight ahead. This year it all slowed down for him and he dominated."
Mason was named the Mid-Southeast East District Player of the Year, and made his second-straight All-District team. He also helped the Wildcats accomplish the goal of a section title after missing out on a trip to state in 2016.
But the 2017 section championship was not Mason's favorite. That was 2015, when Garett was also on the team, and it's Mason's defining memory of his football career.
"Beating Fillmore Central my sophomore year because my brother was playing as well," Mason said. "I had like 200 yards, one of the best games I had. It was cold, my shoulder wasn't feeling great. But it was so fun dominating them and taking it to them, on offense and defense."
When Garett graduated the following spring, it set Mason up to be the face of Goodhue's offense for two years. And being the little brother set in motion two very productive seasons.
"There was a little chip on the shoulder," Mason said. "I always watched on Friday nights, but also playing 'crush the carrier' or tackle football behind the press box. I wanted to make them proud."
Said Poncelet, "They all played the game right. They worked out in the offseason and they're great teammates, always putting the team first, even though they have big numbers. Mason is no different. He's deserving of this award."
Mason spent last weekend looking at colleges. But football isn't going to be a consideration. After 598 carries and 294 tackles, the toll of 900 collisions has taken its toll.
"I'm thinking about going to (South Dakota State University) and doing something with business," Mason said. "I probably won't do anything with college sports. It's too physical and I don't think the body can take that for four more years."
As much as Poncelet would like it to continue, the end of the Huemann road has come. Well, probably.
"The Huemann family has rushed for a few miles for us. More than a few miles," Poncelet said. "He's the youngest of the boys, but there's a sister, Natalie, who is a sophomore. We might have to suit her up next year."
Mason, an older brother, laughs when the topic is raised.
"So many people have said that," Mason said. "But there are some other good running backs coming up who will do just fine."