Once record-setting Indian teammates, Hesse and Weymiller will now square off against each other as a Hawkeye and a Panther this Saturday

Their first collegiate meeting ... Waukon High School 2014 graduates Marcus Weymiller and Parker Hesse (left to right in above photo) stand together in gear representing their respective schools following the last time UNI and Iowa matched up on the football field in 2014. Both Hesse and Weymiller were redshirt freshmen in that first season of their collegiate careers and did not take the field in competition for that game, but both will be on the field at the same time in this Saturday’s in-state match-up as fifth-year senior starters, Hesse at right defensive end for the Hawkeyes and Weymiller at runningback for the Panthers. Submitted photo.

My, how they’ve grown ... Waukon High School 2014 graduates Parker Hesse and Marcus Weymiller (left to right in above submitted photo) stand together after a Youth Sports Foundation (YSF) football game during their late elementary years. It was likely back in their fifth grade season of YSF football when the two last took to competition on the gridiron not being on the same team, but this Saturday, September 15 the two will suit up against one another in an in-state match-up at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. Weymiller is now a runningback for the University of Northern Iowa Panthers (as pictured in left photo at right) and Hesse is a defensive end for the University of Iowa Hawkeyes (as pictured in the right photo at right). Both have their final seasons underway with their respective college programs, with game time scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and the game scheduled to be televised on the Big Ten Network.

Once teammates in nearly every football game they’ve ever played, the 2014 Waukon High School graduate pair of Parker Hesse and Marcus Weymiller will be taking the field on opposing teams this Saturday for the first time since they were in elementary school.

“I believe the last time we actually faced off on the football field was in a YSF (Youth Sports Foundation) scrimmage in fifth grade,” Hesse shared. “Other than that, the only other time we played against one another was fourth grade flag football, and on the playground.”

Weymiller added, “The only sure game I would recall is fourth grade flag football. We weren’t on the same team that year, one of just two years from third grade to 12th grade (the other being fifth grade YSF). Besides that flag football game, I’d say games during recess on the East Elementary playground. I believe most of the time we were on opposite teams then, and that was a lot of games because I’m pretty sure we played football every single recess from kindergarten at West Elementary on until our last recess at East.”

This Saturday, September 15, Weymiller’s University of Northern Iowa (UNI) Panthers will be traveling to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City for an in-state battle with Hesse’s University of Iowa Hawkeyes. Game time is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and for those unable to make the trip to Iowa City, the game is slated to be televised on the Big Ten Television Network.

The two teams last squared off in 2014 in Iowa City, but both Hesse and Weymiller were in their first years of collegiate football and were each on the sidelines as redshirt freshmen that year. Now, with both of them getting the final year of their college football experience underway as fifth-year seniors, the timing couldn’t have been any better for the two teams to end up on each other’s schedules again.

“It will be an awesome experience as we both have had such an impact on each other’s lives that it almost seems fitting we would line up and play against each other in our senior year,” Weymiller shared. “We’ve been on the same team and pushed each other to be better since kindergarten. We’ve been great friends since kindergarten. Even when we went to college we have both supported each other and made a few of each other’s games. During the season we talk once a week, usually. The Hesse family has always been like family to me. I was coached by Perry (Parker’s dad) in many different youth sports. I was driven countless miles by both Perry and Marcia (Parker’s mom) to different youth football, basketball, track, wrestling and baseball events. A lot of my childhood memories involve them and playing different sports so I am pumped to be able to share one more football memory with Parker. It’s an awesome blessing and you couldn’t have scripted it any better way.”

Hesse shared that sentiment, saying, “It’s going to be a really special experience for me. I really got into the sport of football from playing with Marcus during recess in kindergarten. He’s been someone who’s pushed me and encouraged me ever since I met him, and not only as a football player but as a person. Playing Division I football has been a dream of both of ours since we were young, and being able to share that experience with each other will be really cool, even if we probably envisioned playing beside each other.”

With both guys having grown up with no strong family ties to the respective schools they are currently suiting up for, and maybe even having deeper allegiance to other in-state schools for various reasons, their transition to their respective universities has proven to be seamless for each of them. Even though not as seamless, other family members seem to have been able to make that switch as well.

“It was not hard for me,” Weymiller said. “At about the age of nine, I had become a big (Coe College) Kohawk fan. After both (brothers) Frank and Ross had gone through college and played at Coe, I certainly had more allegiance there. It was probably most difficult for my Grandpa Doc (Weymiller) as he is an ISU alum and has had season tickets to Iowa State football for years. He finally gave up his season tickets and got season tickets to UNI a few years ago. Although he still makes a lot of ISU games, he certainly has become more of a Panther football fan.”

“I was just a really big sports fan as a kid so any chance I got to see a game, go to a camp, or wear the gear, I was in,” Hesse said. “It didn’t really matter the school.”

Having played a tremendous number of football games at all levels since they first took to a gridiron - whether asphalt, concrete, grass or turf, Saturday’s game marks yet another milestone in the storied careers of each former Waukon High School multi-sport stand-out. The two combined their talents with a number of other driven and talented teammates to begin a continuing trend of Class 2A State Play-Off appearances in their junior season that has evolved into four play-off appearances reaching at least the quarterfinal round in the past six years, including a first-ever State Championship berth and eventual runner-up finish for the program.

in another very special senior season for these two in high school, a year that many more recent players would say helped fuel the first-ever State Championship won in Waukon football history just last fall. With this being the first time both Hesse and Weymiller step on to the same field of competition since their final high school game five years ago, it will certainly mark another chapter to their overall football story.

“This game has extra meaning in regards to what I think of it or how I will prepare or play,” Hesse explained. “I’ve always tried to play sports rather objectively and focus on the things that I can control. Because we’re such good friends, we’ve met and spent time with each other’s teammates, and I would imagine it would be more of a talking piece for them than either of us. I would say every  week there is an opposing player that someone on our team has at least played in high school, but not as much actually played with.”

Weymiller shared a broader view on that point, noting, “I think this game will be different just knowing that the game means a lot more to a lot of people. It truly is a game bigger than just us two. Obviously, it is a huge game, regardless.”

Even though these once nearly inseparable teammates haven’t taken the field together in competition since that 2013 State Championship game in high school, they both still carry a great amount of knowledge, respect and admiration for one another.

“Marcus has a long list of great attributes as a football player, but the number-one thing I’ve always respected and admired about him is how hard he plays,” Hesse shared about his former teammate now turned one-time opponent. “He’s always played with the motto of ‘Never Die Easy,’ and that’s something you know you can count on when he steps on the field. He’s going to bring it the whole day.”

Weymiller shared a similar view of his long-time friend, explaining, “Parker is and always has been a competitor in everything he does. That shows up on the field. His motor makes him very good and puts him in great positions to make plays. He certainly puts the work in to be successful and also is a highly intelligent football player. This makes for someone who is going to consistently do their job and do it very well. His detail to technique and preparation helps him use his natural ability to be great.”

It’s obvious to see how the two of these grid warriors feeding off one another helped make their last season together in high school one for the Waukon football record books, both individually and in program history. With that undoubtedly a goal they worked together toward during their prep careers, their goals have since broadened separately, and considerably - much like their football careers.

“Our goal right now is to win a Big Ten Championship,” Hesse said of his focus as an Iowa Hawkeye. “That’s how I want to be remembered, both as an individual and as team. To do that, we’re going to have to out-prepare our opponents each week.”

“The goal is to win the National Championship,” Weymiller shared as his team’s ultimate intended destination. “I have individual goals, but as long as I can help the team win, I will be content.”

With those goals obviously being the focal point of their current, and final, seasons at the collegiate level of play, both would not rule out the next big football step in their careers, should that chance be granted to them. They both realize, however, that fulfilling this season’s goals could go a long way toward the ultimate level of the game they both love to play.

“I would certainly pursue the opportunity if it arose,” Weymiller said of any opportunity the National Football League (NFL) may offer. “A lot depends on my senior season, but it’s a real possibility being at a high level FCS (NCAA Football Championship Series) program that consistently gets looked at from NFL scouts.”

“I love playing football, so any opportunity I could have to play professionally would be a thrill to me,” Hesse concurred. “How this season goes will have a big impact on those opportunities.”

If the NFL would not come to call for these young men, both also have plans in place for their futures that may not necessarily involve football. With both also having received academic accolades during their college careers as well, Hesse is currently in graduate school at the University of Iowa, while Weymiller also has plans to further his education beyond his UNI undergraduate experience.

“Outside of football, my options are wide open,” Hesse explained. “Two areas that interest me a lot right now are healthcare administration and sports administration. However, there are a number of things I could see myself doing.”

“I will graduate in December and hope to enroll in law school the following fall,” Weymiller said of his additional educational and career plans. “I am currently applying to law schools now.”

Whatever the future may hold for either former Indian great, there’s no doubt that both of them already have some outstanding tales to tell and memories to reflect on.

“I was recently voted a team captain at UNI and that will probably top my accomplishments because it’s an honor from my teammates,” Weymiller shared. “Since the day I walked-on to UNI, I’ve tried to earn the respect of my teammates and coaches. I am proud to be a part of the different successful seasons we have had here during my time where we have made the play-offs and knocked off top teams. My greatest memory while at Waukon was definitely making the State Championship game, something that had never been done before but we had dreamed about since sixth grade. I think we both wanted to leave Waukon High School with an expectation of winning and dominating in football. I believe that expectation is there and after winning it all last year, it shows that it can be done. We wanted Waukon football to be known for being great every single year and I think that is really happening now.”

While also reflecting on memories, Hesse also included the people he has shared those memories with, noting, “I’ve been lucky to have so many good experiences playing the game of football, from youth leagues, playing in the Dome, defending my hometown, or playing in Big Ten stadiums. But the thing that makes those times so wonderful is the people you get to share it with. The struggle that is required to prepare for and compete during a football game creates bonds that are hard to find in everyday life.”

No matter what the memory, what the accomplishment, or what the goal may be for either young man, both fully realize that none of those would be possible without the foundations in their life that have helped put them in the position to be as successful as they both have been.

“The biggest thing that impacted my football career was my family and my classmates or other kids in the classes around mine,” Hesse reflected. “Being able to have people to play with on a daily basis and to share my interest with helped me further develop my knowledge and skills.”

“My faith and family,” Weymiller said of his biggest influences. “I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without the support of my family and knowing I can be content in every situation because of the hope in and love of Jesus Christ. My parents, brothers Frank and Ross, sister Angela, brother-in-law David, and sisters-in-law Kelsey and Morgan all have been the greatest supporters of my career since I was young and I owe them a lot for encouraging me and pushing me. My brothers’ football careers really made me want to play football and be successful. I saw how exciting football could be and how much fun it can be simply cheering someone on who you are close to. So that really motivated me to be as good as I possibly could be in order to bring joy, pride and excitement into the lives of those who know and are close to me. Frank, Ross and Angela all pushed me to work hard and encouraged me to do crazy workouts at a young age and to constantly be playing football. They believed in me and that truly meant the world to me and allowed me to believe in myself. There are so many people who have had a hand in helping me get where I am today, but I would like to specifically let the families of Coach Dave Schoeberlein, Coach Joe O’Neill and Mitch Einck know that these individuals inspired me along the way and positively impacted how I compete, and for that I am grateful.”

Knowing how all the support and encouragement they have received over the years has benefited both Hesse and Weymiller, they want to offer that same type of encouragement to those who may be following in their football footsteps.

“You must be willing to do what others are not willing to do, in order to set you and your team apart from everyone else,” Weymiller said, furthering with, “Enjoy every part of the journey. It will be easy to enjoy playing under the lights and scoring touchdowns. But you should start to enjoy even the 6 a.m. workouts, the long hot practices, the practices you have conditioning, the long bus rides, and days you have to wear full-pads. Because if you keep a grateful attitude about every single part of the process it takes to be successful, then you will be able to make it through anything. And the best way to enjoy the whole journey is to enjoy being with your teammates. That is probably why I’ve enjoyed football so much throughout the years, because it really is about the relationships you develop with all your teammates.”

Hesse had the following to share, “My advice to young people that want to be good at something is simple: Do it. You get good at what you do the more time you spend watching, participating, practicing, or thinking about something. I have always found the game of football extremely fun and intriguing, so it never once felt like work or a burden.”

It’s the support of their family, friends and the community from which they come that will add even more to this Saturday’s game, no matter what the final score may end up being.

“This might end up just being another game for Parker and I, but I know it means a lot to our community from back home and we don’t take that lightly,” Weymiller said. “I am so grateful for the support that those from Waukon and Allamakee County have given to me through the years. Most athletes do not have such genuine hometown support, so for that, thank you to everyone! It is one of the reasons I am very proud to be from Waukon.”

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