Devils Lake Journal Athlete of the Week: Connor Knatterud

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – Although Connor Knatterud might not possess the size of a traditional running back, he certainly brings the production of one. After compiling more than 50% of the 3,000+ responses recorded, the 5’6” sophomore is this week’s “Athlete of the Week.” 

Being a New Rockford-Sheyenne Rocket, ironically, can explain Knatterud’s skill set almost to a tee. After all, his scorching speed makes him reminiscent of a shuttle destined for the stars. During New Rockford’s 60-22 victory over Benson County on Sep. 24, Knatterud torched the opposing defense and picked up four rushing touchdowns and 146 rushing yards on 10 attempts. Dating back to New Rockford-Sheyenne’s 28-20 win over Four Winds on Sep. 17, Knatterud has collected five rushing touchdowns. 

“He is not a very big kid by any stretch of the means,” New Rockford-Sheyenne head coach Elliott Belquist said. “He plays with a lot of heart. This kid has put in a lot of work. He is probably one of the top players on our team for extra work in the offseason as far as running and working out goes. He has put in the time to where he is at, and he plays with a lot of heart, and he needs to because he is not very big size-wise, but he plays a lot bigger than he is.” 

Despite his lack of size, Knatterud brings the toughness Belquist wishes to see from his team. This toughness, in turn, has helped give the Rockets a steady weapon that can be relied upon to match the run-heavy offensive schemes.  

“If you can establish the ground game, it is going to open things up,” Belquist said. “What I like about him and the offense we are doing right now is that it is hard for the defense to pick up where he is at. By the time he takes some of his cuts, or you run a counter, and the defense picks up where he is at, you do not have the angle on him. You are not going to catch him. Just the raw speed he has is a game-changer for us.” 

When Knatterud is not giving the opposing defense a run for its money, he makes the treadmill work to its last breath. When he is not playing football, Knatterud is playing other sports in the athletic program to make him a faster and more well-rounded athlete. 

To Belquist, Knatterud’s quiet and humble attitude has helped him lead by example both on and off of the field. 

“I feel like we know what we are going to get out of Connor,” Belquist said. “He brings everything he has every time he steps out onto the field, court, or whatever sport it is. He gives it his all. He is not going to take plays off.” 

Congratulations to Knatterud, in addition to Ben Heilman (Devils Lake), Jayden Yankton (Four Winds) and Kelsie Belquist (New Rockford-Sheyenne) for being finalists during this week’s ballot.

The Devils Lake Journal hosts its “Athlete of the Week” contest weekly. The athletes nominated and/or given the award are based on the athlete’s performance from the prior week. Ballot nominations are submitted from Saturday morning to Monday at 10:00 a.m. Finalist voting starts Monday at noon and ends Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. CT. 

The following programs can nominate an athlete for the “Athlete of the Week” honor: Devils Lake, Four Winds/Minnewaukan, North Star/Starkweather, Langdon/Edmore/Munich, Benson County, Nelson County, Dakota Prairie, Lakota, New Rockford-Sheyenne and Lake Region State College. Nominations will vary depending on the time of the season. Follow along on Facebook and Twitter for the release of the weekly ballot.