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Monday, February 6, 2023

High School Football: Peyton Gremels of Academy Force One of State’s Top-Producing Receivers

Running a football is in the DNA of Academy Force chief football coach Noah Dombrowski and his aggressive staff members.

Traditionally, Academy Force — a former Metro co-op team out of St. Croix Prep — prefers to run the ball about 70 percent of the time.

But then came a play last against the Minneapolis Edison in which Dombrowski & Co. knew with certainty it was time to adapt.

On a ball deep down the edge, receiver Peyton Gremels caught an acrobatic run between the two defenders. In fact, it was so good that Edison’s head coach asked Dombrowski after the game to ask where this wide receiver came from.

“It was like an acrobatic and it was like ‘Holy cow, well, we know we can go to him and he’s going to take some crazy catches,'” Dombrowski recalled this week.

And he also made routine catches. To be honest, the Gremels will do all the drama. In that game alone, Gremels finished with seven catches and one touchdown for 124 yards.

“I think ‘Okay, we can count on him to move some things forward for us,'” Dombrowski said.

And this season, Gremels’ senior campaign, receivers academy force has become the focal point of the offense—for good reason.

Through five games Gremels took 34 catches for 533 yards from quarterback Ethan Peterson, making him one of the state’s top-producing pass catchers. He accounted for half of Academy Force’s eight offensive touchdowns, while adding four more two-point conversions.

It’s rare in high school, but it’s true for the academy force—the offense focuses on the 6-foot-1 wide receiver. Academy Force (1-4), which hosts the Minneapolis Roosevelt on Friday at 7 p.m. at St. Croix Prep, has other weapons, as do first-year receiver Josh Lewis. But Gremels is the one who commits the crime.

“It’s definitely like, ‘Okay, we need one, what can we do to open Peyton?’ Dombrowski said. “Peyton is the guy we go through, so we have to roll.”

“Coaches always have a game plan for what they run, what routes will be open and what to run,” Gremels said, “and I execute it.”

His junior season was the first time Gremels played wide receiver at the varsity level, although this is his fourth year starting for Academy Force. According to Dombrowski, the Woodbury product was Academy Force’s second leading tackler from a defensive back position as a freshman, but he quickly showed a knack at receivers when given the opportunity.

“I played a little bit like middle school. I don’t know. The offense we’re doing works just fine,” Gremels said. “I love competition, man on man against the corner.”

He worked the off-season, mastering his routes and footwork. This season it has earned a tremendous amount. Gremels has had at least four catches in every game this fall. In the last three matches, he has made 25 catches and four scores for 441 yards. It included a 195-yard, three-touchdown, homecoming victory for Academy Force over Concordia Academy—the Gremels’ favorite game of all time.

“Every play we threw at him, he made it. So we’re like, ‘Okay, keep doing it!’ Dombrowski said.

Gremmels have earned that trust. The receiver/defensive back area is being recruited by Division III schools, and is said to have roster spots offered by Hamline and Augsburg. Calm, calm and smart, said Dombrowski, Gremels is “the coolest coolest player you’ll ever meet.”

While not arrogant, Gremels maintains a quiet confidence. This is the type of statistical season he was planning to put together, and he hopes to have more wins soon.

The defense has begun to shade coverage in the direction of Gremels. It is becoming increasingly common for receivers to hear opposing coaches shouting “look number 13” to defenders. All eyes on him.

Dombrowski notes that Gremels has always been a quick learner. On defense, the academy force would push him into the box against stronger running teams, and would act as a surveyor of the secondary when an opponent was ready to pass. He is a type of Swiss army knife.

Aggressively, Gremmels doesn’t even need to see a route, but instead has it explained to him, and he’ll soon nail it down. Dombrowski recalled the time the coaching staff described a “whip” route to Gremels in practice. He drove it two days later for an easy score in the game.

“He definitely has a football sense, is smart, he’s a great way-runner,” Dombrowski said. “We can throw a fade for him, we can throw a whip route for him, we can throw him any route and he’ll run it right the first time and open.”

World Nation News Desk
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