Reporting John Lauritsen
MOOSE LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) — The quarterback on the Moose Lake-Willow River eighth grade football team is quick, smart and accurate, and her name is Mackenzi.
If it wasn’t for the blonde ponytail hanging out of the back of 14-year-old Mackenzi Louzek’s helmet, you may not give a second thought to who’s running the offense on the Rebels eighth grade team.
“Rob 45 counters are fun to run and they work,” Louzek, who can recite the team’s playbook like most girls can recite a Justin Bieber song.
Her unique rise to starting quarterback began years ago when she would follow her dad to the Rebels’ varsity practices.
“Mostly what she was good at was climbing on the goal posts. But she loved being around the football team and the players,” said varsity head coach and Mackenzi’s dad, Dave Louzek.
“I liked it a lot, going to practices. It looked like fun. I tried it my sixth grade year and I really liked it,” said Mackenzi.
She was good at it too, not to mention the fact that she’s a natural born leader. With that in mind, her sixth grade coaches made her a quarterback on offense and a safety on defense.
Two years later, her teammates can’t imagine going into a game without her.
“She’s a good leader and she’s nice to everyone. She gives 110 percent all the time,” said fullback Zach Schwarzbauer.
“She’s a good thrower, good athlete, pretty fast and pretty strong,” said running back Thomas Hansen.
And she’s not afraid to mix it up a little bit. The boys hit her as hard as anyone else, but they can’t keep her down.
“Don’t be intimidated if they are bigger than you. If you wrap them around the legs they go down as easy as anyone else would,” said Mackenzi.
And Mackenzi keeps getting better. Earlier this season, she completed a 40-yard touchdown pass to running back Nick Furey.
So what does the future hold for a 5 foot 3, 110-pound quarterback? With the double-wing offense Moose Lake/Willow River runs, her current coach thinks some day, Mackenzi could be the starting quarterback on the varsity team.
“I think she has a great chance of playing all the way through. You have to see how she grows with genetics, weight, and how much muscle she puts on. But our team is lost without her on the field. She is a leader,” said Eighth Grade Coach Chris Gamst.
But for now it’s about making her teammates better and proving that girl power can go a long way in boys game.
“I’m going to try and play football through 12th grade and I’m pretty sure I can make it,” said Mackenzi.
Moose Lake/Willow River’s varsity team has gone to state five years in a row and Mackenzi said it’s her dream to play for her dad and carry on that legacy. They are currently ranked No. 2 in Class 2A.
Her dad said he is proud of her, but mostly, he is proud of the way the eighth grade team has embraced her as their quarterback and leader.