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Competitive edge: Male Athlete of the Year named

Sunday, August 5, 2012

(Photo)
Dexter's Cody Stevens became the only Bearcat quarterback to throw and rush for over 1,000 yards in a season during the 2011 football season. Stevens also ranks second in school history in total yardage for a quarterback. He also finished with a 33-5 record in wrestling and signed a golf scholarship with Missouri Valley University.
(Chris Pobst, Staff)
Whether it's yards on the football field or how many newspaper clippings are hanging on the refrigerator, inside Cody Stevens' home, there's always a battle to be the best.

The will to win drove Stevens to pick up a golf club -- the sport he will be going to college for -- simply because his younger brother, Ethan, was improving on the links.

Stevens couldn't let it be.

"We have a very competitive family," said Stevens. "We always try to be better than everyone else. My little brother was getting better at golf and I couldn't stand it. I'd go outside after football and practice my swing."

"I hate getting beat in anything," Stevens added. "I don't care if it's chess, checkers, water polo -- and I don't even play water polo -- I hate to lose."

Stevens was a three-sport star for Dexter High School. He played football and golf, and he wrestled.

After graduating in May, Stevens holds the distinction of being the only quarterback in Dexter's glory-filled football history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. He, along with his Bearcat teammates, gave Dexter a new school record of rushing offense and is second in school history to only Earl Wheeler, who went on to play college football at Oklahoma State University, in total yardage for a quarterback.

And that's in just two years time.

"I'm not going to rank quarterbacks, but Cody Stevens is right at the top of the list," Dexter football coach Aaron Pixley said. "He brought an element to the position that we haven't had -- ever. He's one of the best quarterbacks this school has ever had."

Although most of his accolades and success came in the form of football, Stevens is an accomplished golfer and wrestler. And he uses the same competitive nature in all three.

Cody Stevens is the 2011-12 Standard Democrat Male Athlete of the Year.

"He's been a great part of our sports program," Pixley said. "We hope that we have more come through here with the work ethic that he has. He's a perfect example of how hard work pays off. Cody has set the bar pretty high."

It's not very often that younger brothers have an affect on what their older brothers do.

Ethan Stevens broke the mold.

Cody Stevens, the second of three children, began playing golf and started wrestling because of his younger brother. His football career, however, was going to happen regardless.

His father, Nate Stevens, and his older brother, Josh Stevens, both played and starred for the Bearcats football team.

His dad was a two-time 1,000-yard running back in both 1985 and '86. His brother, who also played quarterback, passed for 1,440 yards and 15 touchdowns during the 2006-07 season.

Needless to say, playing football was a given.

"He had me out there all the time with him," Stevens said about his older brother. "He would teach me a lot about being quarterback. My dad, of course, was there too."

Stevens used what his family taught him to become one of the best quarterbacks Dexter has ever seen.

He ended his two-year career with a 17-7 record as a starting quarterback and led Dexter's rushing offense with 1,291 yards during his senior year. He racked up a career total of 5,084 yards of offense -- the second-most at Dexter High School behind Wheeler.

The Class 3, all-state second teammer also threw for 1,534 yards and 19 touchdowns. As a whole, Stevens tallied 2,825 yards and 33 touchdowns during his senior campaign.

Stevens also led Dexter's offense to a new school record to the tune of 3,140 yards for an average of 285.5 yards a game. He became the 11th member of Dexter High School to throw for 1,000 yards as well.

"He had a good career," Pixley said about Stevens. "You could see it after Week 4 of his junior year -- this kid has got something and he's going to keep getting better."

Despite his gridiron accomplishments, which ceased just nine months ago, Stevens' stomach turns just a bit when he walks through his kitchen.

"Now, Ethan's picture is on the refrigerator," Stevens playfully scoffed. "It's killing me right now even."

Like his golf career, Ethan spawned Cody's wrestling as well.

"My little brother was having a lot of success with it, so I figured, 'hey, I could be good at it too', Stevens said about wrestling. "At first I didn't have that much success. That kind of woke me up and I knew I needed to practice with it a bit more."

Stevens began wrestling his eighth grade year. He had to quit basketball to start wrestling, but he admits, he's not very good at basketball.

"Wrestling is a very tough sport," said Stevens. "It takes a lot of dedication and a lot of sweat, blood and tears. It's a man on man sport and getting beat in wrestling kills me."

Stevens qualified for state wrestling his sophomore, junior and senior years. As a junior, he won his respective district and finished sixth in the state at his division.

Stevens is labeled as a 'thrower' in wrestling dubbed by one of his wrestling helpers, Bob Waldner.

Waldner was a two-time South Dakota state champion in 1982 and '83 as well as a three-time All-American at Chadron State College.

"Coach Waldner said I was a thrower because I like to throw people," Stevens said. "Coach (Rick) Schwab hated it, but I was better at throwing people than I was shooting. I lived and died by it."

Entering the year ranked fifth in the state at the 170-pound division, Stevens repeated as district champion his senior year as well as a sixth place finish at state -- all while battling a hamstring injury during the state meet.

"He's a very hard worker," Pixley said. "People who aren't around our school or our athletic programs may not know just how hard he works. He's not a very big kid and he just went after it. He ran all the time -- it was nothing to see him running through town during the summer time."

Wrestling in the 160-pound division in Class 2, Stevens lost a heartbreaking overtime match 2-1 to Monterio Burton of Mexico in the fourth round wrestlebacks during the 2012 meet. He then lost a major decision 12-3 to Zac Hoover of Grain Valley to finish with a season record of 33-5.

"I think I finished my wrestling career pretty good," Stevens said. "I had coach Schwab helping me out a ton and Bob Waldner were the keys to my success."

While football and wrestling go hand in hand, a background in those two sports typically doesn't mesh well with golf.

"We've seen athletes excel at both football and wrestling. But to add golf into the mix -- that's another level," Pixley said. "You definitely don't see that every day."

As many golfers will tell, it's not a sport you can just instantly pick up and be great at.

For Stevens, it was a natural fit.

Although he began playing golf just four years ago, Stevens first qualified for the state tournament his sophomore year.

"When I was little, I was a gaming freak," said Stevens. "I played a lot of Tiger Woods golf and that's where my interest came from. I went out to try it and it was just natural to me.

"I got home from football practice, and of course I was tired and wore out, but I just don't like to lay around," Stevens said. "I'd rather be out doing something, so I went out to hit some balls."

Stevens is one of the few golf enthusiasts who live literally 15 steps away from a golf course.

"All I would do is walk over to the (Dexter) Country Club and get some range tokens to hit some balls," he said. "During the summer, there's not much else going on with other sports so I would just go practice golf a lot."

He shot an 80 the first day of the 2012 Class 3 State Championships at the Rivercut Golf Club in Springfield. He finished with a 163 for 53rd place.

Towards the end of the school year, Stevens began feeling out his college options.

Wanting to play football, he traveled to Missouri Valley University hoping to catch on with the Vikings football squad.

After a workout on the field, Stevens inquired about the golf program and asked to see the head golf coach. Without seeing him play or so much take a swing with a golf club, Stevens was offered a golf scholarship.

"I was standing there with my dad and his eyes just lit up," Stevens said. "My dad looked at me and said, 'Cody, just play golf and save your body.'

"I really wanted to play football and I think I have what it takes to play at the college level somewhere," Stevens added. "But, it all worked out."

On top of playing golf, Stevens plans on majoring in criminal law and justice with aspirations on being a highway patrolman in the future.

Pixley believes Stevens will have no problem.

"If you're a competitive person, your like that in all facets of life," Pixley said. "He took to that during his athletic career here and he'll take that same drive with him throughout college and the rest of his life."

Although Stevens has plenty of pictures, articles and awards hanging around his home, there's one piece of paper he covets the most -- a college degree.

"Right now, it's about getting that college degree first. That's what I'm striving to get," he said. "That's just how it is. You want to be the best out of your family and it's not all about sports."

Starting this fall, Stevens' aspirations of becoming the first in his family to become a college graduate will begin, along with his college golf career.

He's hoping that competitive drive created and honed within his family produces one more piece of memorabilia the Stevens family can display.

It just maybe won't go on the refrigerator.