FOLEY — When it comes to sports, Kyle Kipka is sort of renaissance man.
The Foley senior does three for the Falcons: He’s the quarterback in football, a starter on the boys basketball team and a key member of the baseball squad.
When he’s not participating in team sports, he loves to hunt and fish. The family has a cabin on Mille Lacs Lake near Garrison. He has caught a 28-inch walleye, though not this year. There is also a family hunting shack near Bagley. He bagged his first buck as a 15-year-old.
These days, he hopes to help Foley bag enough football victories to earn a top seed in Section 5-3A. The Falcons (3-2) play host to Albany (5-0) at 7 p.m. Friday.
If Foley can pull off the upset, Kipka is likely to be one of the reasons. Two weeks ago, he got a perfect passer rating in Foley’s 49-6 win over Milaca. Kipka, 6-foot and 180 pounds, threw four touchdown passes, completing seven of eight attempts for 234 yards.
It was enough of an effort to have head coach Larry Herm nominate Kipka for Times’ Athlete of the Week.
“We’re passing a lot more than two years ago,” Kipka said. “He’s definitely put his trust in me.”
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There’s a reason for that. The Falcons were ground-oriented in 2014, relying on the excellent running of Carter Nielsen, who has since graduated and is wrestling for Division I North Dakota State.
The offense’s focus has turned to Kipka and Austin Janson (6-3, 230, Sr.), who Herm said is attracting college recruiters.
“Him and (teammate) Austin Janson are pretty big for us,” Herm said. “One big key for us is that we have multiple kids who can catch the ball.”
Andrew Klucas, Nick Corrigan, Mark Lorenz and Cody O’Neil all had scoring receptions against Milaca. Being able to find those guys is because of Kipka’s experience and the fact that he has a good head on his shoulders.
“He’s intelligent,” Herm said. “He’s been in the mix for us (at quarterback) since he was a sophomore.
“That’s been helpful.”
Baseball might be Kipka’s college sport.
He plays third base and was a part of Foley’s state Division II American Legion baseball championship squad that won the Central Plains Regional.
“It’s probably my favorite sport,” Kipka said.
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Sports run in the family. His dad, Terry, is a Foley alumnus who was a wrestling coach for 15 years at Sauk Rapids, where he teaches middle school math.
His mom, Amy, (whose maiden name is Tess) played softball and teaches fourth grade in Foley.
His sister Maggie is a ninth-grader on Foley’s tennis team.
In the winter, Kipka plays basketball. He said he was never pressured to wrestle, even in Foley, where the Falcons have been the area’s most successful team for many years running. It’s rare a top athlete in Foley isn’t involved in wrestling.
“A lot of people tell me that,” Kipka said. “My dad’s been supportive the whole time.”
The Falcons are coming off a 56-0 loss to Becker (5-0). The Bulldogs are defending state Class 4A champions and are ranked No. 1 in the state by The Associated Press.
They beat Foley decisively, no argument from the Falcons. Kipka chalks it up as a learning experience.
“They were a really well-rounded team,” Kipka said. “That’s for sure.”
It doesn’t get easier, of course. After playing unbeaten Albany, the Falcons play Oct. 2 at New London-Spicer and then close with a home game against Little Falls on Oct. 8. New London-Spicer finished second in the state in Class 3A last season. Little Falls has given Foley fits.
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“I think we’re just trying to get better and better,” Kipka said. “We’ve got a tough schedule left.
“If we can execute and keep getting better, we can get a high seed.”
Pierz (5-0) is the current No. 1 in Foley’s Section 5-3A. Mora (4-1) is also ahead of Foley heading into Friday. The rest of the section includes: Annandale (2-3), Milaca (1-4), Pine City (0-5) and St. Cloud Cathedral (0-5).
A third seed gives the Falcons a first-round home game with a semifinal likely at No. 2 Mora.
For now, the focus is on Albany.
“Albany has good athletes,” Kipka said. “They’re very disciplined, especially offensively.
“They’re well-coached and they are always a real tough team.”
“Albany’s awful good,” Herm said of the Huskies, who are 5-0 and earned a No. 1-ranking in the state Class 3A QRF ratings this week. “They are a very good football team.”
Follow Tom Elliott on Twitter @sctimestom or call 259-3661. To nominate someone for athlete of the week, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.