Cole Stenstrom, Mounds View quarterback, turned in one of the best seasons a Mustang football player ever had this fall, capping an impressive three-year tenure at the position.
“Cole has all the physical tools. What has taken him to being one of the all time Mustang greats is his growth from the neck up,” said Aaron Moberg, who’s been head coach for three years, all with Stenstrom as his field general.
Stenstrom passed for 4,036 yards and 35 touchdowns in his career. His TD total is a close third behind two Mustang luminaries, Adam Weber (38) and Don Eustice (36). His yardage is second behind Weber (4,779) and passed Eustice (3,128). His 2,135 yards this year broke Eustice’s single-season record of 1,996 set in 1999.
After becoming the varsity starter the second game of his sophomore year, he stayed there for 29 games, never missing one.
“My whole career has been a blast,” Stenstrom said. “The whole community gets behind us. I think a good football season sets the tone for the school year.”
The Mustangs were 3-6 his sophomore year when he passed for 745 yards and seven touchdowns. They turned the corner at 6-4 his junior year when he completed 104 of 187 passes for 1,156 yards and 10 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions.
This fall, Stenstrom led the Mustangs to an 8-3 season. He passed for 18 touchdowns and ran for nine, while completing 125 of 241 for 2,135 yards with just seven intercepted. He had great protection from the line most of the time and a talented fleet of receivers in Jeff Roeber, Colin Hoyhtya, Mason Dean, Tate Lahr and Brian Tebbutt.
Most memorable games were a 41-40 loss to East Ridge when he was 23-for-31 for 329 yards and two TD’s while rushing for two, and a 48-16 playoff win over Buffalo (and its Iowa State-bound QB Aidan Bowman) when he went 14-for-24 for 253 yards and three TD’s and ran for two more.
“This year, with our team winning the section,” Stenstrom said, asked what his career highlight was, referring to wins over Burnsville (34-0) and Buffalo to place first in their quad of the Class 6A playoffs. “That was our main goal this year, to raise our banner on the fence by the scoreboard. Coach talked to us about that before the season, creating a legacy.”
Moberg, amplifying on Stenstrom’s growth as a QB, said, “His response factor is awesome. If something goes wrong, he has the ability to quickly respond in the right way and control what he can control. We changed our offense prior to the season, and there was a lot we put on Cole’s plate.”
Stenstrom’s lively arm and fleet feet are keys to his success, but, more than that, Stenstrom said, quarterbacking is about “spatial awareness” and “mostly mental.” He elaborated: “Watching lots of film, understanding the different (defensive) coverages.” When he views NFL games, he scrutinizes the QB’s. “I focus on their footwork and their pocket presence. And where their eyes go. That’s something I needed to work on.”
Now a nicely-sculpted 6-1, 200-pounder, Stenstrom surprisingly didn’t play quarterback until eighth grade, because he was too chubby until then.
“Growing up, playing ‘red stripe’ football, I was too heavy (by the rules) to carry the ball, so I was the center,” he explained. “I was always the biggest kid in my grade. I was a chunk. Then I started thinning out, and I just sprouted up. A lot of work in the weight room helped, too.”
Stenstrom, whose father played football (linebacker) and baseball at St. Cloud State, is looking for a college team and should find one. He plans to major in engineering with an eye toward medical applications.
“We are going to miss Cole as a football player,” Moberg said, “but his legacy will be in the way he prepared, and how he treated all who crossed his path. Cole's future is bright and I am excited to see what he can do at the next level.”