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Hackel proud to represent Perham the University of North Dakota next season

Perham senior quarterback commits to the University of North Dakota before a big performance against Detroit Lakes.

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Colton Hackel calls a play under center in the second quarter of Perham's 30-27 win over Detroit Lakes on Sept. 24, 2021. Hackel committed to play football at the University of North Dakota last Sunday. (Jared Rubado / Detroit Lakes Tribune)
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It was a heck of a week for Perham senior quarterback Colton Hackel.

Last Sunday, Hackel committed to play Division I football at the University of North Dakota. Five days later, he ran for three touchdowns and threw for another in Perham’s stunning win over rival Detroit Lakes . Before Friday’s game, Hackel said he was relieved to see the weight of a college decision off his shoulders.

“It’s a huge relief, and I know I made the right decision,” Hackel said. “The guys on my high school team were fired up. I think now that it’s past me, I can be a better leader for the rest of this season too.”

Hackel has played varsity football since he was a freshman and quarterback since his sophomore season. He helped lead the Yellowjackets to a state tournament berth in 2019 and is putting the finishing touches on a record-setting career in his final campaign.

In his career, Hackel has run for 1,977 yards and 27 touchdowns. He’s completed 148-of-272 passes for 2,461 yards and 30 touchdowns. Hackel also has 43 receptions for 689 yards and 10 touchdowns.

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Coming into the 2021 season, Hackel was Perham’s sixth all-time leading rusher, fourth in rushing touchdowns, seventh in completions, seventh in passing yards, fifth in passing touchdowns, fifth in receiving touchdowns, fourth in total offense, third in total touchdowns, second in all-purpose yards and third in total scoring. He’s already set the record for the most points scored in Perham history, with more records likely shattering throughout the season.

“It’s pretty meaningful to me,” Hackel said. “There’s a rich tradition here in sports. To go out and have everybody know your name and wish you good luck on Fridays is pretty special. There have been a lot of really good quarterbacks to come through this year, so to have my name in the record books and then to go to state as a team is an honor.”

It’s safe to say there was a lot for colleges to like about Perham’s standout quarterback. His decision came down to North Dakota State University, the University of St. Thomas and Minnesota State University-Moorhead. He was also in the early stages of the recruiting process with the University of Minnesota.

“For me, it had a lot to do with the coaches,” Hackel said. “The coach that I will be spending a lot of time with, who is the quarterbacks coach, he took a lot of interest in me and checked in a lot. I have that relationship with him and the rest of the staff. Getting to know some of the other guys who already committed and bonding with them made this decision easier for me.”

“It hasn’t hit me yet. This has been my dream forever,” Hackel said. “I’ve been on a little bit of a high lately because of this. I think once that wears off, it’ll finally hit me that I’m going to play college football.”

The COVID-19 pandemic limited the number of camps new recruits could attend, which hurts the exposure for players in smaller areas. The NCAA also granted an extra year of eligibility to existing athletes, which takes away scholarships for incoming players. Despite finding a new home, Hackel felt the effects of the new recruiting landscape.

“It was pretty stressful,” Hackel said. “I had to jam everything into one summer after missing a camp season going into my junior year. Trying to figure out where you fit was tough. There were a lot of things I couldn’t control. I tried to make the best out of a bad situation. It’s such a huge decision. It’s the next five years of your life.”

Hackel grew up in a football household. His father, Russell, coaches the Frazee Hornets. He was a former NDSU football player from 1994-98.

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“Him being in the house grew my love for football. But if I’m being honest, when he was always at practice, my mom was the one playing catch with me,” Hackel said. “My dad played at NDSU, so there’s a little bit of a rivalry now. But, I mean, seeing what he accomplished made it a lot easier for me to set these goals. My parents pushed me to work harder.”

The talent has always been there in Hackel. But what he’s most proud of is how he’s developed into a leader. He’s taken what he’s learned from the players before him and hopes to help bring Perham back to the state tournament.

“Playing in junior high and then playing varsity as a freshman, the older kids set a good example of how hard I should be working,” Hackel said. “They’ve been great examples and better guys. All of my teammates have helped me get here.”

“One of the most important things that I do on a day-to-day basis is being that leader,” Hackel said. “I take a lot of pride in that, and I take a lot of pride in making sure everybody is in the right state of mind. It’s a big responsibility, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
Jared Rubado is the sports editor for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus. He moved to the area in September of 2021 after covering sports for the Alexandria Echo Press for nearly three years. Jared graduated from the University of Augustana in 2018 with degrees in journalism and sports managment.
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