Voss, a recent graduate of Paynesville Area High School, helped the outstate team win the 27th Minnesota All-Star Football Game on Saturday, June 24. The Outstate team, despite having less Division I talent and fewer household names, defeated the metro all stars 28-21 at Macalester College in St. Paul.
"I can always say that I won the last game of high school football," said Voss. "That's the neatest thing."
Voss, the son of Art and Berniece Voss, is the first football player from Paynesville to participate in the all-star game, which has been held since 1974. The teams were originally divided from the northern and southern parts of the state. For the past 21 years, the teams have been divided into metro and outstate squads.
The outstate victory this year gave them an 11-10 edge in the series.
Voss attributed the victory to team work. "The thing with our team is we wanted to win as a team," he said.
"When you play as a team good things will come," he explained. "When you try to be the show, that just causes problems."
"We just wanted to show the preppy town boys that the hicks could win," he added.
The metro squad featured seven Division I signees, according to the Star Tribune. Their roster had names like De La Salle's Dominique Sims, Eagan's Larry Pinson, and Cretin-Derham Hall's Rian Melander, who signed with the University of Minnesota for next year. The outstate did have one future Gopher, Eric Stenzel, a linebacker from Mankato.
Voss alternated series as a defensive back. Sims played defense for the metro team, so Voss didn't play against him. Voss did line up against Edina's Robert Presthus, a wide receiver who is going to SMU.
Voss did not see as much action as he would have liked during the game. The metro team had an option quarterback (White Bear Lake's Mark Jansen, who signed with the Air Force Academy) and an option coach.
Consequently, they only threw to Voss's side of the field twice. One was intercepted by a safety, and the other went for a touchdown against zone coverage.
Voss was on the kickoff return team for a half as well, but neither kick went to him.
Voss estimated he made three tackles on running plays. He had one encounter with Pinson, a 6' 2", 235-pound back who will carry the ball for the Gophers next year. "Well," said Voss with a shrug, "I slowed him up. I didn't exactly go for the middle of his body. I went for his legs. He was a big kid. He's definitely Big 10 material."
That memory might not be as sweet as for Voss as the Bulldogs' 28-6 victory over Albany this fall, their first in 20 years, but Voss knows it could get sweeter in time as he sees Pinson in Big 10 stadiums. "That'll be pretty neat," Voss said. "That's one of those things you can't explain."
Voss wasn't always so sure about his ability to compete with Division I players. When Kyle Nehowig, Paynesville's football coach, approached him about playing, he wasn't positive at first. Voss was pleased to learn that he could compete at that level. "You learn that most kids aren't too much better than you," he explained. "You can stay with them."
The all-star teams are selected based on nominations from coaches: first from the school and then the conference.
Aside from good recommendations from the opposing conference coaches, key stats on Voss's resume were setting a school record in rushing yards last fall with 1,184 yards. He and teammate Steve Flint earned All Area honors last fall.
After seeing the all-star game, Nehowig said, "Steve Flint could have played in that game. He was as good as the outstate lineman." The outstate team rarely picks more than one player from a school, so, on the recommendation of the conference coaches, Nehowig only nominated one player.
Other West Central Conference players on the outstate team were Mike Larson of Sauk Centre and Jason Zierden of Melrose, who are both linemen. Albany assistant coach Mike Kleinschmidt was the secondary coach for the outstate team.
Voss, who will attend Moorhead State University in the fall, is reconsidering whether he will play football for the Dragons. He was leaning against playing and against running track. (Voss also placed second in Class A in the 110-meter hurdles at the state track meet in June. Interestingly, the winner of that race, Stephen-Arygle's Andrew Aakre, also played on the outstate team.)
The main reason why Voss is reconsidering playing football this fall is all the fun he had with the outstate team. The team spent a week at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn., in preparation for the contest.
Voss, who was a little worried about learning a new defensive scheme, found the practices to be pretty relaxed. (The game is played with special rules to keep it simple. Neither blitzing nor motion, for example, is allowed.) The outstate team had only two live practices.
Voss made fast friends with a number of the players on the team. "We were talking one day," he said, "and we all wished we were going to the same college because we got so close."
That sense of camaraderie showed up when the outstate team took the field. Nehowig noticed it at the banquet and from the stands. "Even in warm-ups you could tell," Nehowig said, "the outstate players were pumped up and ready to play."
Vagle coached in 1980 all-star game While Jeff Voss is the first Paynesville Bulldog to play in the Minnesota High School All-Star Game, Paynesville has contributed to the coaching staff.
In 1980, Virg Vagle, who was the head football coach in Paynesville for more than 20 years, helped to coach the metro team. Vagle was primarily responsible for the offensive line.
That was the first game with metro and outstate designations, and the metro won 15-7.
The metro camp was at Macalester College and the game was held at Parade Stadium, both in St. Paul.
Vagle remembers Stacy Robinson being a member of the metro team. Robinson later played for the New York Giants in the NFL and caught a touchdown pass in the Super Bowl.
Stanger plays, too Paynesville had another connection to the outstate team. Tom Stanger, a lineman from Becker, also played in the game. He is the son of Chuck Stanger, a 1971 graduate of Paynesville Area High School, and the grandson of Cal and Arlene Anderson of Paynesville. Tom Stanger also won the Class A shot put at the state track and field meet in June.
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