by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
For a guy whose primary focus is defense, Nate Weber sure scores a lot of touchdowns. The Rogers linebacker who also rotates at halfback has bolted into end zones 21 times the past two seasons.
“Nate is an extremely versatile player,” said Royal coach Marc Franz. “We need him most on defense. He’s got a great nose and instinct for the ball. He’s a physical player who can take on a lead blocker, but fast enough to make plays on the outside. He is also very football-intelligent.”
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound senior’s contributions to Rogers’ 5-0 start include 25 rushes for 254 yards (10.2 average) and seven touchdowns on offense, and some big numbers on defense with 64 tackles (five for losses) and four forced fumbles, at inside linebacker. He ranks seventh in the state in tackles and first in forced fumbles according to stats on minnesota-scores.net.
His junior year, Weber led the 8-2 Royals with 14 touchdowns, 88 points, and 428 yards rushing (62 attempts), while catching 11 passes for 147 yards. He was an important defensive cog at outside linebacker and defensive end.
Weber and junior Gunnar Bloom are the primary ball carriers this year, although the Royals give the ball to around ten backs per game. Meanwhile he’s enjoying the move inside on defense.
“I’d have to say I like offense better, because it’s fun to score touchdowns,” said Weber. “But the team needs me more more on defense. I like playing inside linebacker more than outside, because now I can move to both sides and not be stuck on one end. I’m making a lot more tackles this year.”
Asked about all those TD’s, Weber said, “We’ve got a great line, with a couple seniors who’ve been there three years. We get some pretty good holes to run through.”
Franz said Weber has an excellent understanding of the schemes and what’s expected of him. Weber suggested a wrinkle in the punt formation one game last year when they were having trouble with it, Franz said, and the change worked out well. “It’s fun to work with a player like that with a good football I.Q.,” said Franz.
The Webers are family of athletic standouts. Nate’s dad, Marlon, was in football, basketball and baseball standout for Elk River. His mother, Elaine, was in track, volleyball and basketball at St. Michael-Albertville. The oldest three kids were Elk athletes: Mitch was in hockey and football, Angie on dance team, Monique in hockey, soccer and track. Monique played Division I hockey with UConn and North Dakota.
The two youngest have been in football and hockey for Rogers. Matt, a quarterback and linebacker, helped the Royals reach the Prep Bowl in 2010 and was a state all-star game participant. Matt and Nate were teammates once, in hockey Nate’s sophomore year.
The last Weber has made a big impact in hockey as well. A left-winger or center, he notched 12 goals and 27 assists for a 20-7-1 team as a sophomore, and led with 16 goals and 19 assists for a 12-13-2 team as a junior, making all-conference.
Asked about his top thrills so far, Weber cited a section hockey semifinal win over St. Cloud Cathedral in 10th grade when he scored two goals, and a football win over Buffalo last year when he rambled for 180 yards and three TD’s. But his senior year should provide many more memorable moments.
THE WEBER SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents Marlon and Elaine; brothers Mitch and Matt; sisters Ange and Monique … Sports: football, hockey … Other activities: Fellowship of Christian Athletes leader … Academics: 3.3 GPA … College plans: undecided where; play football, study accounting
Favorite stuff — Class: math … TV show: “Two and Half Men” … Movies: “Friday Night Lights” and “Step-brothers” … Food: gorging at Fogo de Chao in Minneapolis … Drink: chocolate milk … Teams: Vikings, Texas A&M … Athletes: Johnny Manziel, Marshawn Lynch … Kickback: hunting, fishing … Music: country, especially Jason Aldean … Wants to visit: Hawaii