The results have been mixed for Elkhorn Area High’s football team over the first month of the season, but do not try telling senior Jacob Mogensen things have been disappointing.

“You can say we’re 1-3, but almost all the games we’ve been right in them,” Mogensen said. “So it may not look like we’re having success, but we’re just building more and more every game as a program.

“It’s just putting the puzzle pieces together at this point.”

Mogensen represents one of the trickiest pieces to that puzzle. He is set to play in college as a defensive back, but he is also one of the Elks’ top runners and pass catchers and has thrown several passes this season, as well.

He will look to show off his versatility once again tonight when the Elks travel to face archrival Delavan-Darien in a Southern Lakes Conference game.

Elks’ swiss army knife

Mogensen was excited about his new head coach before he even arrived for this season. He knew Todd Ghilani already, because Mogensen’s cousin graduated and is best friends with Ghilani.

The feelings almost certainly were reciprocal, because Ghilani has made sure to get Mogensen involved every way possible.

“We’re going to find a way to get him more touches because when he gets even a little bit of open space, he just runs away from people,” Ghilani said. “Jake checks every box you have when you’re evaluating a player. He’s a coach’s dream and has been awesome for this team as a leader.”

According to statistics input into, Mogensen enters tonight’s game with 280 rushing yards on 50 attempts (5.6 ypc) and has one rushing touchdown. He has also caught five passes for 103 yards and a score and has completed 3 of his 5 passing attempts.

Mogensen also returned a kick 75 yards for a touchdown this year.

And he’s got one interception on defense.

“I don’t like to label myself as one thing, I like to be known as an athlete,” Mogensen said.

“Jake’s got cornerback skills with safety size,” Ghilani said. “He had some jaw-dropping times at Duluth’s camp last summer and is going to be a very good college football player.”

Walworth County connection

Indeed, it was Mogensen’s showing at a camp at Minnesota-Duluth that helped him earn his scholarship offer to play Division II football for the Bulldogs.

“I went to the camp and got offered four days later, and it took me about two weeks to know Duluth was the school I wanted to be at,” Mogensen said. “I build a really good relationship with the coaches and recruiting coach. They made me feel they wanted me more as a person than as a statistic.”

That recruiting coordinator, it turns out, knows the Elkhorn area well.

Marcus McLin was a standout for Delavan-Darien High before winning three Division III national championships and two All-America honors at UW-Whitewater. McLin joined the Duluth staff in 2018.

“I kind of knew of him but never had a personal relationship with him (before recruiting),” Mogensen said. “Every week we’d talk about different schools in the (Southern Lakes Conference), because he could relate back to when he played. So that’s fun.”

Moving forward

As impressive as Mogensen’s many stats are, he is quick to deflect away from his individual efforts.

“It’s not me making myself look good,” Mogensen said. “On the offensive side, my O-line does a fantastic job of making holes for me to run through, and C.J. (Hall) gets me the ball, and the other two running backs have had outstanding performances to keep the defenses on their heels.

“It’s a team effort.”

The Elks seemingly have the toughest part of their schedule behind them. Their three losses have come to teams that have a combined 8-1 record, and their remaining three opponents have combined to go 2-8.

So it is easy to understand why Mogensen feels like the best is yet to come.

“Our mindset is to go 1-0 every week,” he said. “A lot of teams say that, but we’re making that a true mentality.

“I just want to enjoy my senior year. If there’s mandates or restrictions (due to COVID), I’m going to respect it. But I’m not going to let COVID stop me from enjoying my senior year with my friends and just have fun.”


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