Brian Roebke photo
Wrightstown High School Activities Director Craig Haese led last week’s ceremony where Joe Hella and Jared Pelishek signed their National Letters of Intent to play college football. Pictured on the stage are Lindsey, Brenda, Mark, and Joe Hella, Haese, and Sarah, Andrew, and Bill Pelishek.
By Brian Roebke
Wrightstown High School seniors Joe Hella and Jared Pelishek met some long-time goals last week when they signed scholarship offers to play Division 2 college football in Minnesota.
Hella is headed to Minnesota State Morehead and Pelishek is headed to Concordia University-St. Paul. Both are members of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
Hella, a 6-4, 230-lb. defensive lineman, thanked his family, past and present coaches, for being nice to him, motivating him, and making him a better player on and off the field as well as future coaches for giving him the opportunity to play four more years of football. He thanked his teammates as well.
He was the North Eastern Conference Lineman of the Year, first-team all-conference as offensive and defensive lineman, all-regional team selection, team captain, and three-year letterwinner for the Tigers.
Hella chose Morehead because they checked on him frequently in the summer and fall. “They were one of the first schools to contact me so they really invested their time in me,” he said. “That set them apart from the other programs that I was looking at.”
He’s had a goal of playing college football since fifth grade. “I’ve always been told I’ve been a really good player and after that I knew I could make a name for myself so I’ve always strived to become something greater than just a high school football player and always get to the next level.”
He transformed his body in 2020 by slimming down but becoming stronger and plans to start playing defensive end at Morehead. However, the defensive line coach wants him to move into a defensive tackle if he can now gain about 50 lbs.
“That will be an interesting process but I’m ready for it and ready for all of the work that it will take,” he said.
The MSU Morehead Dragons went 6-5 in 2019, not playing last fall due to COVID-19.
Co-Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Jesse Currier said in a statement, “Our evaluation with Joe started with his junior film. Out staff ranked him very high in that initial evaluation based on his athleticism, frame, and effort he plays with. In this COVID year, we’re not able to host or attend camps so we put a premium on getting our top-ranked recruits on campus for individual visits to determine who would be the best fit for our culture. Joe stood out on his visit as a guy who would be a great teammate and focus on daily improvements that are necessary to be successful as a college athlete. We are very excited to have him join the Dragon family and look forward to his success and growth in our program.”
Pelishek, a 6-1, 190-lb. safety, was an All-NEC second team offensive utility and outside linebacker selection as well a team captain for Wrightstown.
He thanked his family and his coaches, notably Mike Olson for believing in him early on, at Wrightstown as well as Concordia.
Roland Schmidt, the school’s athletic trainer, was also mentioned for helping him get back on the field after injuries, as well as all of his teammates for impacting his life.
Pelishek chose Concordia because he wanted to go to a bigger city that had a lot of opportunities so felt this school fit him.
“When I got on the campus and got to see the football program it was just kind of the selling point,” he said. “That kind of won me over.”
Since playing Pop Warner football, he’s had a goal of playing college football. He remember playing with his brother Andrew in the back yard wondering if they would someday play on the same team or play against each other.
“Now it’s coming true,” he said.
He’s slated to play a free safety position that will have him playing on the line and also in coverage.
The 2019 Golden Bears finished 6-5 but COVID-19 cancelled their season as well.
The coaching staff said in a statement, “We believe that with the passion, commitment, and physical toughness that Jared competes with along with his dedication to the classroom and drive to be excellent, he will be a true asset to the Golden Bear family as we continue to build toward a championship culture.”
Wrightstown Activities Director Craig Haese said the two young men are great examples of what they have in Wrightstown during the signing ceremony. “They compete with a passion, they set and accomplish goals, and they’re great teammates,” he said.
He also alluded to them being multi-sport athletes, being pretty “darn good” football players as well as good athletes and teammates in other sports. “That’s what we need in Wrightstown in order to have success that we’ve been having in a lot of our sports programs,” he said. “I hope that tradition continues.”
Coach Steve Klister congratulated Hella and Pelishek and their families for the scholarships.
“With the uncertainty of things this year these two guys, along with our 20 seniors, were just outstanding leaders,” he said. “From making videos for our weightlifting this summer to getting the younger kids in to check on them and making sure they were doing what they needed to do, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank these guys and all the seniors from the Wrightstown football program.”
Klister said the universities are getting outstanding football players, great individuals, and pretty good students.
He also asked them to continue cheering the green and gold football team and not the purple team in Minnesota.
Haese said this is the third consecutive year the school had football players accepting college football scholarships. The others were Andrew Pelishek and Caleb Ritter.
“Hopefully this starts a pipeline that we get many, many more,” he said, noting it’s a huge credit to the school’s football program and the school’s activities culture.
He said credit goes to Hella and Pelishek for buying in and putting in the time that’s needed to receive a scholarship.
“It’s definitely the ‘we before me’ that we have here in Wrightstown,” he said.
Haese said Wrightstown is a model school and in the year and a half he’s been activities director, he’s fielded at least 10 calls from different schools asking what they do in Wrightstown to have such an outstanding program and how they incorporate student athletes to work out during the day.
“We have four personal conditioning classes and then as well with our younger kids and the students that don’t have personal conditioning and do it after school,” he said.
Haese credited the physical education teachers, strength trainers, and coaches for their work.
Hella and Pelishek’s teams play each other on Nov. 6 in St. Paul.
Both young men have older siblings playing college sports. Lindsey Hella plays volleyball at Carroll University and Andrew Pelishek plays football at Southwest Minnesota State.