PIERZ — With the biggest game of his life on the horizon, Michael Meyer spent Monday in a deer stand.
The Pierz senior defensive back/wide receiver decided to hit the woods looking for a trophy buck when he and the Pioneers were given a day off by head coach Leo Pohlkamp.
Top-ranked Pierz plays ninth-ranked Jackson County Central at 1 p.m. Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium for the state Class 3A title.
The whole thing seems surreal to Meyer, who admits he is most comfortable in the woods. He has never been to TCF Bank Stadium, the home of the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers.
And though Pierz was close to the Prep Bowl last year, the whole state championship thing feels unlikely.
“I’m excited to play there,” said Meyer, the Times Media Prep Athlete of the Week. “Once I get there, I’ll be pretty amazed.”
It’s the first trip to the Prep Bowl for Pierz (12-0) since 2004, when the Pioneers beat Eden Valley-Watkins 39-14 to win the state title.
“It’s a weird feeling,” said Meyer of being in the Prep Bowl. “It doesn’t seem true.”
Jackson County Central (10-2) won the Prep Bowl in 2001 and took second in ’98 and ’97. Jackson won a 1985 Prep Bowl title.
Meyer helped secure Pierz’s berth with a touchdown reception and an interception in the Pioneers’ 29-6 win over Tri-City United in the state semifinals.
“After we won, I was happy,” said Meyer, who is 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds. “And I’m happy we’re there (at the Prep Bowl).
“But, it doesn’t seem real.”
It was Meyer’s ninth interception of the year, a school record. He also leads the Pioneers with 15 receptions for 342 yards and five touchdowns.
“We have a lot of kids having very good years and he’s one of them,” Pohlkamp said. “He’s got nine interceptions and has like 17 or 18 in his career.
“Plus, he’s a really good receiver.”
He is also the Pioneers’ top punt returner, having returned 16 punts for 171 yards.
Meyer has been a key player on the football team since his sophomore year. He’s a key man on the basketball and baseball teams.
This fall has become a dream season for the Pioneers, who fell 25-24 in overtime to Rochester Lourdes in last year’s state semifinals. Lourdes went on to the state title.
Getting to the Prep Bowl was the main goal for the Pioneers, who have barely had any blips on their way to the championship game, despite a significant number of injuries.
“Right from the first day at the beginning of the year, we knew we had the experience,” Meyer said. “The guys were confident because of how many of us played last year.
“Losing (to Lourdes) left such an empty feeling. We really wanted to try to run the table this year.”
Quarterbacks Aaron Weber and Preston Rocheleau, running back Jonny Kasper and two-way lineman David Skiba have all missed playoff time with injuries.
It hasn’t mattered. Yet.
“We have five solid backs,” Meyer said. “Hopefully, we’ll have everybody back.”
Huskies playing well
In the meantime, the Pioneers prepare for Jackson County Central. The Huskies opened the season with losses to Maple River (17-15) and Pipestone Area (15-14) and have won 10 straight without a single close game. (Pipestone is playing for the Class 2A title).
“I know our coaches will have a good plan for us,” Meyer said.
They and several players attended Jackson County Central’s 30-14 semifinal win over Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton on Saturday in Maple Grove.
And Meyer? He and his father were hunting near Hillman.
“I would have gone (to the Jackson County Central game), but my dad wanted me to go hunt,” Meyer said.
Meyer is uncertain what he wants to do after high school. He said he has been accepted at Bemidji State and is considering playing sports. He said he’s still dealing with the fact that his high school football career is nearly over.
“I was thinking (in the deer stand) how this was going to be my last game,” Meyer said. “It’s unreal.”
Follow Tom Elliott on Twitter @sctimestom or call 259-3661.