Waverly-Shell Rock alums lead Storm offense


Photo edited by Austin Hronich/The Simpsonian

by Gunnar Davis, Sports Editor

Waverly, IA is known by avid American Rivers Conference fans as the home of the Wartburg Knights. The northeastern Iowa college town is also home to three members of the Simpson football team — and all three start on the Storm offense.

Junior quarterback Tanner Krueger, sophomore wide receiver Joe McNally and sophomore right tackle Mason Spree were all members of the 2015 Waverly-Shell Rock football team.

Now, the three athletes have helped Storm football earn a 6-2 overall record. With two games remaining, Simpson’s six wins are already the most since 2013, when the Storm went 7-3.

“It’s so cool that we have three Waverly kids here. We’re all starting and kind of giving back to not only our hometown but also Simpson,” Spree said.

Krueger is having a breakout year, helping the offense average 28 points per game. In eight games, he’s thrown for 2,050 yards and 15 touchdowns.

“Playing a position that’s the leader of the offense, he does a really good job of managing the game and getting our guys in the right direction,” Offensive Coordinator James Hoffman said. “An added component to our offense that he adds is the ability to throw deep and I’m excited about that.”

McNally stands out among a talented group of wide receivers. At 6 feet 4 inches tall, Hoffman say McNally creates mismatches to take advantage of against smaller defenders. He’s done that, averaging nearly 20 yards per catch. He’s also caught 27 passes for 537 yards and four touchdowns.

“Joe brings a little bit of a vertical component to the game,” Hoffman said. “He has a lot of room to grow, which is exciting because he can be a really talented wide receiver when his career is all said and done.”

Up front, Spree has started at right tackle all season for the Storm. Only a sophomore, he stands 6 feet 5 inches and weighs 280 pounds. Hoffman is pleased with how Spree has developed and is excited to see what he can grow to be.

“In our offense and our league we see a lot of really good defensive ends,” Hoffman said. “Each week he’s gotten better and really been able to negate a lot of teams best defensive ends on a weekly basis.”

All three of the Waverly alums were never sure if they would play college football, let alone all start on the same team.

“I never gave Simpson a chance,” McNally said. “When I gave it a chance, I actually could see myself coming here. One of the best decisions I’ve made is to come to Simpson.”

According to CBSNews.com, only 6 percent of high school football players play collegiately. It’s even more rare for a college football team to have multiple athletes from the same school.

“If you look across the league, multiple teams have that same type of pipeline where three or four guys from the same high school end up going to the same place,” Hoffman said. “For whatever reason, Waverly-Shell Rock has a nice pipeline of guys coming down to Simpson.”

Earlier in the season, Simpson traveled to Wartburg to take on the defending conference champion in Waverly. In front of the trios’ hometown, Krueger ended up catching the game winning pass in overtime to earn the upset victory, 37-36.

“It’s kind of funny how Joe and I would go out in the summer and we would throw on Wartburg’s field,” Krueger said. “You’d kind of always imagine it, and then it came down to the last play. I’d always joke like the clock’s running down ‘3, 2, 1’ and the fact it actually happened like that is kind of crazy.”

McNally added, “It’s a block down the street from my house. It was awesome winning there and having everyone from home support you.”

With two conference games remaining, Simpson sits on top of the conference standings at 5-1. Be sure to catch the trio in action at home against Dubuque on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.