Dual threat: Northwestern's Sedin helped change the way the Tigers play football
The senior's coach and teammates say his strength and accuracy helped the Tigers attack opponents in the passing game; his ability to run kept opponents on their toes; and his leadership propelled the Tigers forward.
MAPLE — Jase Nelson didn’t have to ask for much from his quarterback, who he said has always had noticeable talent.
“The best throws I can have," the Northwestern wide receiver said of teammate Luke Sedin's passing. "I didn’t drop many balls because he threw in my area."
Sedin, the Superior Telegram’s 2022 All-Area Football Player of the Year, made a name for himself as a junior and hasn't looked back. He's the career leader in passing yards and touchdowns for the Tigers. In his junior season, he totaled 1,360 yards and 21 passing touchdowns, setting school records for a single season. In 11 games of the 2022 campaign, he threw for 30 more yards to break his record, along with 18 passing touchdowns.
Northwestern has long been known for developing talented running backs, most recently former Telegram Players of the Year Reagan Ruffi, in 2017 and 2018, respectively, and Nate Pearson in 2015.
But when head coach Jovin Kroll took over in 2017, the Tigers were looking for a change, and they found it quickly.
“His ability to throw the deep ball was one of the first things (I noticed). He had a strong arm, and in years when you don’t have that, you notice it pretty quick,” Kroll said. “As a freshman when Grand Rapids came up here, he made a couple throws that had opened my eyes, and I thought ‘We're going to be alright here sooner rather than later.'"
Once the time came to unleash Sedin, the Tiger faithful began to come and watch “the special throws he made Friday night where people in the stands just watched the ball up in the air,” said Tanner Kaufman. The senior running back caught many passes from Sedin, including nine receiving touchdowns in two seasons.
Sedin was a leader on the field with his big play ability, and not only throwing the ball, but also playing defense. Filling in as a safety, he forced four interceptions by opposing quarterbacks and recorded 35 total tackles.
He not only made a major impact on the field, but also wanted to make those around him better to compete for a state championship.
“The main goal was to go to state, but we fell short, also (to) be 9-0 (in the regular season), and for me to break the records I broke last year,” Sedin said.
“Coming in as a second year captain, I kind of felt like I knew what to do, what to hold the team accountable for and know where we are supposed to be at, and to keep our mind right on big game weeks and be able to come ready to the ones that aren’t really big games,” Sedin said.
The two sides of Sedin were noticeable to many of the seniors he had been playing with since middle school.
“I love him as a friend, being around him and hanging out with him, but he is mentally focused when it’s game time,” said senior offensive lineman Andrew Bourque.
After the Tigers lost to Ellsworth in the third round in Sedin’s junior season, he went right back to work, trying to improve his game on different levels.
“He had a really great junior year, but he wasn’t satisfied with where he was, so he became a dual threat QB. He didn’t leave his junior year looking like a kid that was going to run for touchdowns,” Kroll said.
Sedin's ability to run the ball was something the team knew could help them compete at a higher level, Kaufman said.
His attachment to the weight room was a major factor. Kroll said Sedin lifts weights year-round.
That's what Sedin said he fell back on in the games — all the work in the weight room and camps he went to in the summer.
And it did make a huge difference: Sedin ran for seven touchdowns to go along with 373 rushing yards — 309 more yards than his junior season. On top of that, the Tigers trusted Sedin at the goal line, as he scored five two-point conversions.
“My dad pushed me to where I am. Him always talking about being a state champ, and my whole family just pushed me to be better,” Sedin said. His father, Shane Sedin, played linebacker for the the Northwestern team that won a WIAA Division 3 state championship in 1988. Luke's brother, Justin Sedin, was the back-to-back Telegram Baseball Player of the Year in 2018 and 2019.
Teammates say Luke led the Tigers on their way to an undefeated season.
“He’s the best leader in this school for sure… vocal and he works everyday, comes in the mornings earlier than anyone and works out, he puts the extra work in whenever,” said Nelson.
Sedin didn’t do it alone, but Kroll said his ability to hold teammates accountable and to put in the work helped the Tigers find success.
“People respected Luke because of the work he put in. He never took shortcuts, which is a great example for his teammates on how to achieve success,” he said.
Sedin pointed to teammates, including Bourque, Kaufman and Nelson, for the roles they played in the Tigers' strong regular season and their postseason run.
“I thought we did good. The line had some veterans on it, like Andrew and Ian (Smith) — they stepped up and did a lot," Sedin said. "Tanner had a big role in the receiving last year, but he really stepped up as a running back. Jase had a good year and Trevor (Eliason) had a good year — really good on defense this year."
The Tigers' path was nothing short of difficult as they faced the Aquinas Blugolds, reigning WIAA Division 5 champions, in the second round of the playoffs. Northwestern was ahead 16-14 at halftime, but their season ended after a 22-0 second half by the Blugolds.
“He did everything he could that night and throughout the year to put the team in position to win football games, and that’s all you can ask for,” said Kroll.
Now that his high school football season is over, Sedin is looking toward college.
He received offers to play at the college level from multiple schools in Minnesota and Wisconsin. He is still waiting to make a decision. As a shortstop and pitcher for the Tiger baseball team, he said he would like to play both sports in college, if possible.
Superior Telegram Football Players of the Year
2022 — Luke Sedin, Sr., Northwestern
2021 — Ben Benes, Sr., Northwestern
2019 — Jarrett Gronski, Sr., Superior
2018 — Reagan Ruffi, Sr., Northwestern
2017 — Reagan Ruffi, Jr., Northwestern
2016 — Gunnar Gronski, Jr., Superior
2015 — Nate Pearson, Sr., Northwestern
2014 — Nick Mehlum, Sr., Superior
2013 — Nick Mehlum, Jr., Superior
2012 — Ben Erickson, Sr., Superior
2011 — Justin Alexson, Sr., Northwestern
2010 — T.J. Polkoski, Sr., Northwestern
2009 — Ryan Miesbauer, Sr., Northwestern
2008 — Joe Reichert, Sr., and Chris Blake, Sr., Superior
2007 — Chris Blake, Jr., Superior
2006 — Max Phillips, Sr., Superior; and Austin Lind, Sr., Northwestern
2005 — Kiel Fechtelkotter, Sr., Northwestern
2004 — Clayton Leith, Sr., Northwestern
2003 — Clayton Leith, Jr., Northwestern
2002 — Chad Izzard, Sr., Superior; and Mark Simonson, Sr., Northwestern
*A Player of the Year was not named as the prep football season changed drastically because of the COVID-19 pandemic.