Pete Hiltner has had a gigantic offseason.
On Thanksgiving Day, the 6-foot-6, 305-pound Brainerd Warriors offensive tackle was named to The Associated Press all-state football first team.
Three days later Hiltner was introduced at the Metrodome at halftime as a member of the Minnesota Vikings all-state team.
On Tuesday, he was named to the St. Paul Pioneer Press all-state first team.
"It was kind of my expectation to hopefully make at least all-state, but not three teams like that," Hiltner said. "It's a real honor."
Hiltner earned one more honor this weekend as he and 21 other players, were named to the Brainerd Dispatch All-Area team.
The senior left tackle anchored an offensive line that enabled Brainerd to average 357 total yards (295 rushing) and 30 points.
"My guess is we averaged more yards rushing per game than any other 5A school, and Pete was a big reason for that," Warriors head coach Ron Stolski said.
Brainerd finished 10-1, secured the No. 4 ranking in the final Class 5A poll, won its fifth straight Central Lakes Conference championship and a berth in the 5A state quarterfinals.
"I thought it was the best experience I've ever had," Hiltner said. "I absolutely had the best time. It was such an honor to play with a group of guys like we had. We all worked together so well, and just got it done. No one of us was ever selfish.
"We worked real well as a team, and I think that contributed to our good effort, and our good season."
Warriors offensive line coach Chet Stevenson said Hiltner put himself in position to contribute by spending considerable time in the weight room and by participating in Brainerd's summer practices.
Weight: 305 pounds
Position: Two-year starter at left offensive tackle
"He made virtually every one of those (practices)," Stevenson said, "so his prep work coming into August was right on target.
"We visited during the season and I told him he was the guy we needed to go to. We ran left a lot. We kind of climbed on his shoulders. He came through for us. As a result, our run attack benefited and he also benefited.
"That was the kind of improvement he needed to make to become a legitimate college prospect. He is a legitimate prospect, I think. He's got some upside as far as improvement. He still can improve quite a bit."
Hiltner has made dramatic improvement in the weight room. His 280-pound power clean is 10 pounds shy of the top 10 in school history. His 525-pound squat is second, his 330 bench is fourth.
Stevenson believes Hiltner's best football lies ahead.
"He has tons of room to improve," Stevenson said. "He's got all the credentials to be a bonafide big-timer. He's 6-6, has good feet and pass blocking ability. We don't pass a ton but he moves well on shuffle steps. It's hard to get around him. Down the road he will be a lot better."
Hiltner hopes that road takes him to Minnesota, North Dakota State or Wyoming. He has attended Minnesota's camp the last two offseasons and would like nothing more than to wear maroon and gold in the future.
"I think they have pretty good interest in me," Hiltner said. "We'll see in the next few weeks what they decide to do. We'll see if I make an official visit there."
Stevenson believes that's a possibility. Gophers guards-centers coach Gordon Shaw attended Stolski's clinic last summer at Cragun's and said the improvement Hiltner made between his junior and senior years was "phenomenal."
"If they don't offer him a scholarship, I think they will probably actively recruit him to be a walk-on and give him a scholarship maybe later," Stevenson said. "They're high on him."
Mike Bialka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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