SIOUX CITY, IOWA (KCAU) – It’s been an exciting six days moving through our crop of candidates towards the SportsZone Football Player of the Year. But when all was said and done, there was one nominee who stood out amongst the field: Woodbury Central senior quarterback and cornerback Drew Kluender.
It was a year to remember for the Wildcats. A season of achievement in which Kluender played a pivotal role.
“I mean I can’t be more proud of these guys,” Kluender said. “We had a heck of a season we gave it our all, came up a little short but nonetheless it was a fun time.”
Kluender finished his Wildcat career as the program’s all-time leader with 6,332 passing yards and 69 passing touchdowns, but credits his targets and the team’s development to his success.
“Week by week we just continued to improve and get better and we had some good athletes out there and I just gave them the ball and they did the rest,” Kluender said.
An all-around playmaker in and out of the pocket, Woodbury Central’s Drew Kluender cemented his case as the most explosive player in Siouxland this fall. The two-year starter racked up 3,414 offensive yards and 44 total touchdowns, throwing for 32 of them behind 2,897 pass yards and 174 completions. All top marks in Class A in back-to-back seasons.
“I’ve been in football with him my whole life and I always knew he had a good arm,” Woodbury Central senior wide receiver and defensive back Eric McGill said. “We knew coming into the year that he was going to be our impact player and that we needed him back and watched him grow into a leader. Coming into this year he’s just made a statement.”
Doing so in the secondary with 32 tackles and three interceptions, it was Kluender’s heightened run game that solidifed his dual-threat package. Complimenting his rocket for an arm, the senior rushed for 517 yards and 12 touchdowns. Showcasing his ability to extend plays, capitalize drives and leave defenses in the dust.
“He can do a QB draw and guarantee you that first down and use his legs a little bit more than he did last year,” Woodbury Central junior wide receiver and linebacker Sam Monk said. “That was really beneficial to the team. He was just a totally different player, junior year he was an all-star but this year he was on a whole another level.”
He’d end on the highest stage, leading Woodbury Central to a 12-1 overall record and a State runner up finish in the program’s first State title game trip since 1980.
If that wasn’t enough, Kluender would become the second player in 11-man history to throw for over 6,000 yards across two seasons, joining Bishop Heelan’s Trent Solsma from 2012-13. Creating the kind of athlete that doesn’t come around often.
“It’s not very often you get a quarterback who can throw every single route you want to on the field, which does open up the playbook quite a bit,” Woodbury Central head coach Kurt Bremer said. “He’s just the type of player that’s willing to put in the extra effort and the time and does an outstanding job of putting in the work. He is going to be missed.”
Kluender’s football chapter comes to a close in Moville but the senior will start a new one next fall at Division-II Southwest Minnesota State. Excited to earn the job under center all over again, and hoping his leadership shone brighter than his play as one of the best quarterbacks in Iowa history.
“You’re always gonna think of that long blonde hair,” Monk said.
“I want to be remembered as a leader. Someone who was there for everybody and who was just there to slow the game down for the younger guys and help them and teach them and help them understand the reads at the quarterback position. I can’t be more proud of our guys and it’s awesome to just say I was the starting quarterback on that 2023 team that made it to the championship game,” Kluender said.
Congratulations once again to Drew Kluender on becoming this year’s SportsZone Football Player of the Year.