Matt Ferris’ record-breaking season helped lift Appleton Xavier to within a game of competing for the WIAA Division 3 state championship.
His play rewrote record books and led to his being named the Wisconsin Associated Press High School Football Player of the Year.
Ferris, a 6-foot-5, 175-pound senior, threw for 3,949 yards and 50 touchdowns, both state records.
Xavier head coach Dave Hinkens said Ferris’ attention to detail and outstanding work ethic had much to do with his excellent play.
“It’s humbling, for me as a coach and for Matt as a player, to be recognized for his greatness,” Hinkens said. “One thing about Matt is that he doesn’t get outworked. He studied and did everything we as a coaching staff, asked him to do.”
Ferris, who also is an outstanding basketball player, also points to Xavier offensive coordinator Jim Zuleger as a key mentor in his development.
“He’s awesome,” Ferris said. “An offensive genius and he helped me out with reading defenses and knowing the offense inside and out.”
Ferris also gave credit to Xavier’s outstanding set of wide receivers for helping him set those state marks.
“Those guys made me look good,” he said.
Ferris averaged nearly 304 yards passing per game and had a season-high 420 yards and eight touchdown passes, a single-game state record, against Ripon in a 64-14 victory.
He also had six touchdown passes in wins over Little Chute and Berlin and also threw three touchdowns in a 42-0 victory over Winneconne, which eventually won the WIAA Division 4 state title.
Other players nominated for Player of the Year included a pair of University of Wisconsin recruits: Monona Grove offensive lineman Jaden Gault and Mukwonago linebacker Dominic Cizauskas.
The Wisconsin AP Coach of the Year is Clint Peters, who made sure his Winneconne football team never lost sight of its goal.
Even when a 42-0 loss to Xavier dropped the team’s overall record to 2-5, the Wolves never wavered from the plan they started the year with — one that Peters has preached throughout his two seasons as coach.
“Our one goal is to make the playoffs,” Peters said. “We don’t look forward to anything except making the playoffs and just by having one common goal and having the kids buy into it and work for it, they didn’t lose focus.”
Winneconne won its final two games of the regular season to sneak into the playoffs with a 4-5 overall record. Five weeks and five wins later, Peters had led the Wolves to something no other team in Wisconsin had ever done.
Winneconne went from being a No. 6 seed to winning the WIAA Division 4 state title, beating Platteville 28-14 at Camp Randall Stadium to become the first team with five losses to win a championship.
“I still haven’t come to grasp with all of it, I guess,” Peters said. “Obviously, the season turned out a lot better than it started.”
Peters was one of six coaches nominated for the honor, along with fellow state champions Greg Malling of Arrowhead, Steve Jones of Kimberly, Mike Stassi of Monona Grove and Jeff Koenig of Stanley-Boyd, along with Rob Stoltz of state runner-up Greendale.
2013 AP Wisconsin All-State Team
Player of the Year — Matt Ferris, QB, Appleton Xavier
Coach of the Year — Clint Peters, Winneconne
OFFENSE — FIRST TEAM
x-QB – Matt Ferris, 6-5, 175, sr., Appleton Xavier
x-RB – Ike Floyd, 5-8, 150, sr., Fond du Lac Springs
RB – Colten Seibel, 6-0, 202, sr., Bloomer
RB – Ricky Williams, 5-6, 140, jr., Edgerton
x-OL – Jaden Gault, 6-7, 300, sr., Monona Grove
x-OL – Jacob Maxwell, 6-6, 285, sr., Greendale
OL – Logan Nelson, 6-3, 250, sr., Kimberly
OL – George Panos, 6-6, 295, sr., Hartland Arrowhead
OL – Sam Schrauth, 6-3, 314, sr., Fond du Lac Springs
WR/TE – Mitchell Brees, 6-3, 188, sr., Greendale
WR/TE – Jake Giordana, 6-1, 180, sr., Hudson – tie
PK – Casey Bednarski, 6-2, 210, sr., Oconomowoc
All-Purpose – Aric Elmore, 5-10, 180, La Crosse Logan
All-Purpose – Jacob Van Alsten, 6-0, 205, sr., Shiocton
DEFENSE — FIRST TEAM
DT – Craig Evans, 6-3, 305, sr., Sun Prairie
x-DT – Billy Hirschfeld, 6-6, 275, sr., Hartland Arrowhead
DT – Conor Sheehy, 6-4, 270, sr., Milwaukee Marquette
DE/OLB – Beau Benzschawel, 6-6, 250, sr., Grafton
DE/OLB – Gaelin Elmore, 6-6, 248, sr., Somerset
ILB – Dominic Cizauskas, 6-2, 250, sr., Mukwonago
ILB – Brock Offerdahl, 5-10, 185, sr., Monona Grove
ILB – Gus Wedig, 6-3, 200, sr., Walworth Big Foot
DB – Marcus Collins, 6-3, 210, sr., Madison La Follette
x-DB – Connor Rolain, 6-0, 205, sr., Appleton North
DB – Daulton Varsho, 5-9, 185, sr., Marshfield
x-P – Colin Downing, 5-11, 175, sr., Whitefish Bay
OFFENSE — SECOND TEAM
QB – Scott Schreiber, 6-3, 215, sr., Kimberly
RB – Drew Patterson, 6-0, 208, sr., Sussex Hamilton
RB – Isaac Tuttle, 5-10, 170, sr., Glenwood City
RB – Hudson Walton, 6-2, 210, sr., Cedarburg
OL – Jon Dietzen, 6-6, 300, sr., Seymour
OL – Jordan Lewinsky, 6-4, 275, sr., Mequon Homestead
OL – Tyler Powers, 6-2, 275, sr., Hortonville
OL – Luke Rasmussen, 6-7, 275, sr., Brookfield Central
OL – Brock Snider, 6-2, 265, sr., Lancaster
WR/TE – Noah Stengel, 6-3, 195, sr., Sheboygan North
WR/TE – Daurice Fountain, 6-3, 185, sr., Madison Memorial
PK – Jake Dragoo, 5-11, 170, sr., Madison Edgewood
All-Purpose – Dillon Martinez, 5-11, 170, sr., Holmen
All-Purpose – Riley Kallas, 6-0, 170, sr., Winneconne
DEFENSE — SECOND TEAM
DT – Jared Johnson, 6-3, 235, sr., Hudson
DT – David Pfaff, 6-3, 245, jr., Mequon Homestead
DT – Ty Romenesko, 6-3, 265, sr., Kimberly
DE/OLB – Ty DeForest, 6-2, 225, jr., Marshall
DE/OLB — Mark Gajewski, 6-0, 200, sr., Appleton North
ILB – Brock Allen, 6-0, 200, sr., DeForest
ILB – Dylan Harmston, 6-2, 206, sr., Menomonie
ILB – Zander Neuville, 6-5, 225, sr., Waupaca
DB – Logan Ballering, 5-11, 180, sr., Oconomowoc
DB – Mitchell Brees, 6-3, 188, sr., Greendale
DB – Alex Kocour, 6-1, 191, sr., Waukesha Catholic Memorial
P – P.J. Rosowski, 6-3, 185, sr., Stoughton
Tyler Blang, sr., QB, Monona Grove
Chase Crothers, jr., OL, Sun Prairie
Ryan Curran, sr., QB, Sun Prairie
Isaiah Lesure, sr., WR/DB, Mount Horeb/Barneveld
James McGuire, sr., OL/DL, Edgerton
Bryce Bennot, sr., DB, Wautoma
Seth Butler, sr., DB, Black Hawk
Tyler Glass, jr., RB, Lancaster
Derek Schambow, sr., WR/DB, Platteville
Tanner Sweeney, sr., RB, Black Hawk
Sean McGuire, sr., QB, Franklin
Jonathan Carson, sr., TE, Milwaukee Messmer/Shorewood
Canton Larson, sr., QB, Oconomowoc
Josh Ringelberg, jr., QB, Greendale
David O’Gorman, sr., DE, Watertown
Zach Dodge, sr., DL, Wilmot
Elijah Fort, sr., RB, Waukesha West
Jared Karow, sr., DB, Franklin
Adam Korpela, sr., WR, St. Francis
Vince Schimborski, sr., OLB, Brookfield East
Mark Seitz, sr., ILB, Hartland Arrowhead
Sam Seonbuchner, sr., OLB, Hartland Arrowhead
Wes Lodel, sr., OL, Manitowoc
Kollin Neils, sr., QB, Plymouth
Nate Neveau, sr., QB, Oshkosh North
Levin Vande Berg, sr., RB, Laconia
Devin Wilson, sr., DL, Omro
Chandler Diekvoss, sr., WR/DB, West De Pere
Luke Elsner, Sr., DL, Seymour
Kory Kodanko, Sr., OL, West De Pere
Alex Lasinski, Sr., RB, Hortonville
Andrew Schiessl, Sr., LB, Menasha
Andrew Thompson, Sr., QB, Hortonville
Dylan Szews, Sr., RB, Menasha
Nathan Peters, Sr., RB, Freedom
Reegan Anderson, jr., RB, Almond-Bancroft
Colton Boelte, sr., DT, Amherst
Albert Goerlitz, sr., DB, Owen-Withee
Mark Saari, sr., RB, Hurley
Jake Whalen, jr., LB, Wausau West
Hunter Hauser, sr., DL, Holmen
Lamont Murphy, sr., RB, La Crosse Central
Noah Risch, sr., ILB, Holmen
Greg Rooney, sr., OLB, Holmen
Erik Van Vleet, sr., RB, Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau
Calvin Wright, sr., DL, La Crosse Logan
Ethan Young, sr., QB, Black River Falls
Nick Mehlum, jr., QB, Superior
Dusty Spaeth, sr., WR/DB, Stanley-Boyd
Luke Stanley, sr., TE, Menomonie
An earlier online version of this story incorrectly listed the school for honorable-mention selection Kory Kodanko. He is from West De Pere.