Clintonville wide receiver Skyler Lehman has signed his national letter of intent to attend Upper Iowa University, an NCAA Division 2 college in Fayette, Iowa. Lehman signed his letter at halftime of the boys’ varsity basketball game on Friday, Feb. 6, in front of a large crowd of family, teammates, coaches, friends, and Trucker fans.
Setting lofty goals
Lehman began his high school football career with a few challenging goals in mind.
“I really wanted to be one of the best players on the team,” he said. “I also wanted to earn First Team All-Conference honors as a wide receiver by the time I had finished my high school career.”
In order to accomplish his goals, Lehman knew he had to get in the weight room and go the extra mile in practice and on his own time.
“We never had to push Skyler to lift weights or work on his game,” said his father, Shane Lehman. “He was always very self-motivated. He wanted to be the best he could be.
“Skyler worked hard in practice, but he also put in a lot of extra time in the weight room or running routes in the yard,” added Shane. “I’m not a great quarterback, but I threw a lot of passes to him as he worked on running routes at home.”
The hard work paid off, as Lehman earned Second Team All-Conference Honors after his sophomore season.
His success continued despite an injury that kept him off the field for a big chunk of his junior year, though he was still able to earn Third Team All-Conference honors.
An incredible senior season
Going into his senior season, Lehman still had not accomplished his goal of making First Team All-Conference, though he came close in both his sophomore and junior years.
Despite a slow start to the season where he caught just three passes for 25 yards against Little Chute, Lehman quickly made his presence known, hauling in eight passes for 113 yards with one touchdown against Xavier. He duplicated that success with six grabs for 114 yards and one touchdown in the team’s next game against Fox Valley Lutheran.
Statistically, Lehman’s biggest game came against Ripon, as he caught 10 passes for 256 yards with two touchdowns.
Lehman caught four passes for 80 yards and one touchdown against Freedom, seven passes for 130 yards and two touchdowns against Winneconne, five passes for 45 yards against Waupaca, and seven passes for 82 yards against Berlin.
Lehman capped his high school career with nine catches for 260 yards and two touchdowns in the Truckers’ season-ending, 57-19 win over Random Lake. It was the Truckers’ lone victory this season.
All told, Lehman hauled in 59 receptions for 1,114 yards and nine touchdowns this past season. He averaged 18.9 yards per catch and 123 receiving yards per game—and after the season, he was named a unanimous First Team All-Eastern Valley Conference wide receiver, accomplishing the goal he had set as a freshman.
Lehman said the key to his success this year was maintaining a good attitude despite several blowout losses for the Truckers.
“I tried to just stay positive all season long,” said Lehman. “I just focused on getting my stats up because I knew our team needed help. It’s tough when the team has had a few losing seasons back-to-back, but we just kept doing our best. We never gave up.”
Lehman said his best memory from this year came from the win against Random Lake.
“That was a really fun game to play,” he said. “I’ve never been in a game where we were able to just dominate the other team like we did against Random Lake. It was just a lot of fun.
“I also enjoyed making memories with my teammates and coaches,” he said. “Coach Scott Werfal worked hard to get this team together and get us pumped up throughout the season. I think our numbers doubled this year, and guys were excited about that. Having a new weight room and updated jerseys really made this season special as well.”
Going to the next level
Lehman said he looked at several schools before settling on Upper Iowa, with help from a friend and former teammate.
“I was considering North Dakota State, and several schools in Minnesota,” said Lehman. “But my friend Ross Westphal goes to Upper Iowa and plays football there. He said he really liked it, and encouraged me to check it out. So, I went to visit, and I liked it quite a bit. That was a big factor in my decision.”
Lehman was also awarded a $20,000 athletic scholarship and a $14,000 academic scholarship. “I never thought I’d ever get a scholarship,” Lehman said. “I was very surprised by their offer, and I didn’t get any other offers like it. I had looked at a lot of other schools and talked to a lot of other coaches, but it was really cool to get an offer like this.”
On the field, Lehman hopes to compete for a spot at wide receiver, but said he could play tight end if needed.
“I’m really excited about playing for Upper Iowa,” said Lehman. “They’ve recruited a lot of good players, they have a good strength and conditioning program, and they have good coaches. They ran out to a 5-0 record early last season, and I’m excited to be part of the team’s future.”
Coach Werfal said he expects Lehman’s success to continue at the collegiate level.
“Skyler is one of the best athletes I’ve ever had the opportunity to coach,” stated Werfal. “He is a very coachable kid who just loves playing football. I’m very confident that he’ll excel at the next level.”
“I have always known football was Skyler’s favorite of all the sports he has been involved in,” said his mother, Jody Lehman. “The fun for us has been watching the incredibly positive influence his coaches and teachers have had on him over the years. I hope he gets some opportunities to be on the winning side as he continues through college, and I hope I get to see it!”
Advice for younger players
Lehman had a few words of advice for younger players looking to have success in their high school football careers.
“You’ve got to put in the time. Definitely hit the weight room as much as you can,” he said. “Work hard in practice. You can’t just show up, you have to work hard at getting better.
“You’ve also got to prioritize academics,” said Lehman, who currently holds a 3.49 grade point average. “Academics always come first, and it should always be that way. Clintonville coaches understand that. There’s no reason why a player should be unable to participate because of bad grades. Coaches and teachers will do all they can to help you get your grades up if you need help.”
Lehman said younger players must work on developing leadership skills as well.
“I tried to help the team by being vocal about putting in the effort on the field and in the classroom,” said Lehman. “Sometimes you have to get after your teammates so that they get their grades up or give a better effort on the field.”
Lehman said his success in high school can be attributed to all the help he has received from his parents, coaches, teammates, friends, and the Clintonville community.
“My mom and dad have done a lot to help me throughout high school, and they did a lot of work through the college recruiting process. They helped me get in the school that I wanted to go to and helped me with the scholarship end of it, too. I’m really thankful for them,” stated Lehman.
“My teammates and coaches have been a really special part of these last four years,” he added. “We made lots of memories on and off the field.
“I’m also thankful for my teachers, because they helped me get things right and made sure I really understood what was being taught,” he said. “I was able to get good grades because of their help.
“I also want to say thank you to the Clintonville community,” concluded Lehman. “Their support has been great. It’s really nice to see people coming to the games, even though our team didn’t win many this year.”