By Alex Oey
Coming into the season, Canby's Wyatt Kraus had one goal - get his team deep into the playoffs.
The fifth-ranked Lancers are on the right track with a 4-0 record and their senior halfback is leading the way with 1,076 yards of total offense to go with 14 touchdowns on offense, and 29 tackles defensively.
But those numbers don't matter if Canby doesn't win.
"We're very happy we've started like this," Kraus said. "But we're taking it one game at a time. Trying to keep that momentum going."
Canby head coach Nick Kockelman has witnessed a slight shift in Kraus, from high gear to an even higher gear.
"He's been our starting halfback the last two years. He's used to being our prime back, but this year he realizes he only has one year left and he's giving it everything he has," Kockelman said. "He has the attitude and the mentality this year that, 'This is my year. I'm going to do everything I can.'
"This is a really good team and he's become a leader and he's putting forth a lot of effort this year, and it's showing in the stats and our win-loss record."
That higher gear has been leading to higher stats offensively. He leads the area in rushing yards (993), carries (115) and rushing touchdowns (13). According to MNFootballHub.com, his number of total rushing yards and rushing touchdowns would rank first in all classes through the first four weeks of the season.
Against MACCRAY last week, Kraus had 351 yards rushing, 70 yards receiving and five touchdowns on the night. He also had five tackles on defense in Canby's 42-32 win.
"I think it gives our offense a lot of confidence going into games knowing we can put up a lot of points so we don't have as much pressure on our defense," Kraus said. "We try doing our best stopping the people, but we had kind of a shootout against MACCRAY."
His coach saw just how big of an impact he made.
"In that game, he didn't come off the field. That's what amazes me as a coach and someone that's played three ways," Kockelman said. "The guy just doesn't come off the field and he's able to perform at such a high level because of his conditioning and his work ethic.
"He had 39 carries, and I bet five carries were holding calls. He touched the ball 45 times in the game and had over 400 yards of total offense. That's just impressive. I think it speaks for itself."
The durability Kraus has was created over the years because of the effort he puts in during the offseason in the weight room.
That dedication has allowed him to always keep going. Even in practice.
"In practice, he never comes out. He doesn't take any reps off," Kockelman said. "It's an expectation of the coaching staff, and more importantly, of himself. That's the mentality that he has.
"With the young guys, they are thinking, 'I don't want to let Wyatt see me taking a play off because look what he does every play, every game.' It factors into practice as well as JV games and varsity games."
With Kraus, his dedication and effort boils down to one thing - making his team better.
"My goal is not to get injured and help the team as much as I can and get deep into the playoffs. That's what I really want," Kraus said. "Continue what we're doing and try to get better at everything."