The Joe Thomas Award
is given annually to the state's top senior offensive lineman as part of the WSN Senior Football Awards presented by Taco Bell. The award is named after former Brookfield Central and University of Wisconsin athlete Joe Thomas, who has gone on to great success in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns. After an All-American career at UW, Thomas has been selected to the NFL Pro Bowl each of his three years in the league.
The pre-season watch list was trimmed down to 25 semi-finalists, and five finalists for the award have now been selected. Winners are announced the week of the state finals.
Joe Thomas Award Finalists:
Hayden Biegel, Wisconsin Rapids
– Biegel was a First Team All-State pick last season but really came into his own this year after adding weight and strength to his 6-6 frame. He earned a scholarship offer from Wisconsin and gave the Badgers a verbal commitment over the summer. “When we needed yards / a play this season, we ran behind Hayden,” said Rapids head coach Tony Biolo. He was our teams best blocker and is the best lineman we have had come through the system. Hayden has an edge about him that really makes him a good offensive lineman. His footwork and strength make him a tremendous blocker in the middle as well as on the edge.”
Graham Bullmore, Kenosha Bradford
– Bullmore was a big part of last year's team that won the Division 1 state title, and blossomed as a senior. He's a legitimate Division I prospect that has gotten bigger as a senior. “He's by far our offensive leader and one of our captains,” Bradford coach James Camerota added. “He makes all our line calls and has anchored our line as we have rushed for well over 2000 yards this season.”
Jake Gronholz, Lakeside Lutheran
– Lakeside Lutheran is a running football team, with two running backs that have combined for more than 2000 yards with 26 touchdowns. He's moved between right guard and left tackles for the Warriors, who are 9-0 so far this year. “He can get great movement at the point of attack and he has excellent mobility,” explained Lakeside coach Paul Bauer. “We don't do a lot of throwing but Jake is an excellent pass blocker.” A three-time First Team All-Conference pick, he was named the Capitol-North Offensive Lineman of the year as a senior. Gronholz has a scholarship offer from North Dakota, with several other schools interested.
Stephen Idlas, Appleton North
– Idlas is a student of the game and an outstanding student-athlete, carrying a 4.0 GPA and #1 ranking in his class of 380 students. His intelligence transfers to the football field, where is an outstanding leader for head coach Rob Salm. “We would not be where we are without his leadership and contributions,” Salm said. Idlas was recently named a Unanimous First Team All-Conference choice and the Offensive Lineman of the Year in the VFA-North.
Jacob Ohnesorge, Waunakee
– Waunakee has had some outstanding players go through their program over the years, and according to head coach Pat Rice, Ohnesorge ranks right up there with with the best of them. A three-year starter for the Warriors, Ohnesorge has already played in two state titles. He earned WFCA First Team All-State honors last season for Waunakee and was the Badger-North Offensive Lineman of the Year for the unbeaten Warriors.