WAUKON — Lincoln Snitker was destined to play football.
After all, Waukon football blood courses through his arteries. His dad and uncle are assistant coaches. He watched his cousins play for the Indians before joining the staff. Older brother, Mitchell, is the school’s all-time leading rusher.
The junior linebacker is proud to carry on their tradition.
“I think it’s just really special to have all these members of the family be a part of the program and helping me through this,” Snitker said. “To represent them and all they worked hard for, have them coach and push me, it’s something cool.”
Snitker is the leading tackler and receiver for the fourth-ranked Indians, who will face top-ranked Monroe PCM in a Class 2A state semifinal Saturday night at the UNI-Dome, beginning at 7:30. Waukon (8-1) is making its fourth straight semifinal appearance and fifth overall.
“It is great to be part of the program when we’re as good as we are and when we’re in this little dynasty that we have going on,” Snitker said. “Like our coaches told us, Waukon football was never a staple. They’ve really turned the program around for us to be as good as we can be.”
Snitker grew up around the program. Numerous Snitkers have graced Waukon rosters and its staff. His father, Ted, is the linebackers coach and an uncle, John, coaches the offensive and defensive lines. Cousins Blaine and Cody were two of the players turned coaches for the Indians.
Mitchell Snitker rushed for 3,267 career yards and 44 touchdowns, including 2,066 and 27 as a senior on the 2017 2A state title team. He also had 1,106 receiving yards and more than 4,600 total offensive yards.
No one took it easy on the younger Snitker during family football games. He tried to keep up with the older family members, learning to hold his ground or get knocked down to it.
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“I was pretty young and pretty slow, but I tried my best to keep up with those guys,” Snitker said. “They treated me like everybody else.”
Football is also a way to bond with his father. Snitker said he has learned a lot about the game from him and it is the source of many conversations.
“Especially during the football season, that’s pretty much what we talk about,” Snitker said. “Football is always on our mind.”
Snitker and classmate Braden Hemann were added to the varsity roster as freshmen, seeing limited action. Snitker assumed greater responsibilities last year. Not only did he move into a starting linebacker role, he began calling and positioning the Indians’ stout defense. A big chore for an underclassman but he embraced the challenge.
“Lincoln understands he is an extension of the coaches on the football field,” Waukon Coach Chad Beerman said. “A lot of pressure on the kid, but he’s been doing it since he was a sophomore and he has done a good job. Obviously, he plays pretty fast once the ball gets snapped, too.”
The task was nerve-racking, at first. He realized coaches and teammates trusted him to take the reins. Confidence and acclimation followed.
“For those guys to put that trust in me was pretty good of them,” Snitker said. “I felt like I could get the job done.”
Snitker is the team’s top receiver with 328 yards and six TDs. He has also rushed for 221 yards and two TDs.
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His biggest contribution is on the other side of the ball, leading Waukon with 56.5 tackles, 34 solo stops, 19.5 tackles for loss and four interceptions. Snitker picked up where he left off a year ago, when he tallied a team-high 95 tackles, including 76 solo. He has 158.5 career tackles, which is just nine short of his brother’s total.
“He’s bigger than Mitchell, obviously, playing linebacker,” Beerman said. “He reads fast. He runs into the ball. He’s also our leader in interceptions and our leading receiver on offense.
“Basically, he’s around the football all the time on offense and defense.”
The 5-foot-11, 195-pounder enjoys training and is fueled by a strong work ethic. Beerman said Snitker was in the weight room as soon as he was old enough to start lifting. He even did high school track workouts in middle school.
“This is a pretty tight-knit group of kids,” Beerman said. “They know he’s one of those kids who is going to be in the weight room, along with our senior leaders. They just expect to see those guys in there and do what they’re expected to do. They put in the time. He’s been part of that.”
Snitker wants to parlay that effort into an extended playing career. He has aspirations of playing in college and is motivated to make it happen.
“Football is my No. 1 passion,” Snitker said. “It’s my No. 1 goal in life. I want to play college football somewhere. It is what I’ve been working toward the last five years.”
Snitker led the Indians with 9.5 tackles, six solo, and 4.5 tackles for loss in their 24-8 quarterfinal win over Solon. They will need to conjure up the same kind of performance against PCM (10-0).
“They are a team that has been there year-in and year-out,” Beerman said of PCM. “They’ve got good speed, tremendous size up front, particularly the interior of their line. Their defense has gotten a few shutouts this year. We expect it to be quite a challenge for us.”
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