REINBECK — Gladbrook-Reinbeck football coach John Olson had no hesitation handing the reigns of his defending Class A state championship offense to first-year starting quarterback Hunter Lott.
The 5-foot-10, 165-pound junior brings a calming sense of preparation and consistency to the football field for a 10-0 Rebels team one win away from booking a third consecutive trip to the state playoff semifinals inside the UNI-Dome.
Lott’s game day preparation more closely resembles a checklist. He goes through stretches in identical fashion on a weekly basis and even requests to get his ankles taped by the same assistant coach. If something is out of place on the field, Lott is the first person to find out what went wrong.
“His knowledge of football is out of this world,” Olson said. “He’s a very linear thinker and a by the book type of guy. He needs to know the rules, follow the rules and does an excellent job.
“If something doesn’t happen the way it’s supposed to, he’ll come back with a question and say, ‘Hey coach, that’s not what I thought I was going to see, so what do I do in this scenario?’ He constantly wants more knowledge and is constantly asking questions.”
That analytical ability is matched with athleticism.
“His best attribute is his overall athleticism,” Olson added.
“His instinct is to push the envelope and go, go, go. He’s not a quitter. If something doesn’t go his way, he fights for the extra yard. He does a spin move here and there to get out of the way of some defensive linemen. He tries to constantly keep the play alive.”
Lott also likes to deliver the hits.
Maintaining a role as a key member of Gladbrook-Reinbeck’s defensive secondary, Lott ranks second on his team with 41 tackles to go with an interception. He started at wide receiver his first two years of varsity football before running the offense as a full-time quarterback this season for the first time since eighth grade.
Numbers validate Lott’s successful transition to the position. He’s completed 57 of 91 passes for 1,293 yards with 15 touchdowns versus just two interceptions.
While Lott didn’t receive the same JV reps at quarterback as his predecessors, he’s proven himself a quick study by replicating the intangibles friend and former teammate Jake Schuman possessed during last year’s title run.
“He (Schuman) taught me a lot about being calm and just trusting yourself,” Lott said. “He helped me with making the right reads and footwork. I learned a lot from him about being a leader.”
The new signal caller didn’t take long to win over his teammates.
“He’s a junior on our team and he’s a captain which maybe isn’t uncommon at certain places, but we’ve got 13 seniors and they’re all very good leaders,” Olson said. “For them to vote him as one of our captains speaks highly of him.”
Lott has spread the ball evenly throughout a balanced group of contributors on offense. His 72-yard touchdown pass to Erik Knaack ignited the Rebels during Friday’s 13-7 playoff win over Lynnville-Sully. Knaack’s 340 receiving yards lead the team, followed by Gage Murty (317), Matt Roeding (315) and Walker Thede (289). Running back Parker Bown has also worked with the offensive line as a strong pass blocker.
“We just have a lot of people that can make plays for us,” Lott said. “We’re a really well-knit group together. We go out to eat every Thursday with the team. You can tell in games how nobody ever freaks out on anybody or gets mad at each other. We’re just close and that makes us a better football team.”
Now, Gladbrook-Reinbeck is back in a familiar position. Class A’s No. 2-ranked Rebels host No. 8 Montezuma Friday eager for an opportunity to experience another indoor football game.
“We work so hard in the offseason and to have it pay off in the fall, it shows how that hard work pays off,” Lott said. “Playing in the Dome is an experience a lot of people don’t get to have in their life. We were lucky enough to go there the last two years.
“Playing this Friday to go there for a third time in a row is pretty unique.”