Ballard High School's Ashton Hermann transitioning success on the basketball court onto the football field
Ashton Hermann is a gamer.
The Ballard senior made a name for himself on the basketball court after helping the Bombers reach the state tournament the past two seasons. Ballard placed fourth in Class 3A his sophomore year and fell to Pella in last year's 3A state championship game.
Hermann was an all-state selection last year. He was at his best when it mattered most, averaging 20.3 points on 58% shooting during the state tournament to make the 3A all-tournament team.
He's doing it again this fall. Only this time it's on the football field.
"I've always loved football," Hermann said. "It's just playing with my best friends out here having fun. That's the main thing about it."
Hermann had the daunting task of taking over for three-year starting quarterback Connor Drew. Drew, a dual-threat quarterback, led Ballard to an 8-2 record in 2020.
He's more than lived up to the challenge so far.
"This guy is huge for us," Ballard senior offensive lineman Kale Krogh said. "We were a little iffy on what was going to happen with the quarterback this year because we lost a guy like Connor who obviously was a big leader and a big playmaker. This guy is making the plays exactly how we want him to."
Through four games Hermann has completed 48 of 72 passes (67%) for 640 yards and eight touchdowns against just three interceptions. He's also rushed for 340 yards and four scores, averaging 8.5 yards a pop.
"Ashton brings a lot to the table," Ballard co-head coach Kyle Howard said. "He's a terrific athlete, but it's his mentality ... he's so calm, cool and collected. That's what you want from your quarterback under center."
Hermann averages 160 yards passing and 85 rushing per game. Last year Drew averaged 115.9 and 40.7.
Hermann's 12 total touchdowns also put him on pace to beat Drew's 20 touchdowns from a year ago.
"He makes really good choices, he stays even-keeled and he can keep control of the huddle and keep guys calm," Howard said. "He's a huge part of what we're doing right now."
Ballard (2-2) had to replace a lot of other talented seniors entering the season. That led to a slow start with lopsided losses to Bondurant-Farrar (47-14) and Adel-Desoto-Minburn (31-14).
But despite no previous varsity starting experience at quarterback Hermann was steady as a rock. He completed 16 of 23 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns against Bondurant-Farrar and threw for 119 yards and a score and added 71 yards and a touchdown rushing versus A-D-M.
Hermann only threw one interception in those two games.
His experience as an integral part of a successful basketball program has transitioned over onto the football field. Hermann has Division 1 potential at basketball — South Dakota is giving him a serious look — and the competitive spirit that drove him to earn such recognition has played a big part in his ability to seamlessly transition his skills over to the gridiron.
"That's why we love multiple-sport athletes," Howard said. "We get to borrow on that experience we've had in other sports. Ashton's played in big basketball games down at Wells Fargo with a lot of pressure on him. That makes these Friday night lights less bright."
With the Bombers returning home last week for their first home game at Rich Strouse Field in 700 days due damage from the 2020 derecho storm the other inexperienced players on the team have started catching up with Hermann.
Ballard blanked Boone in its home opener, 26-0. On Friday the Bombers scored another shutout at Rich Strouse Field with a decisive 48-0 victory over Atlantic.
Hermann was a star against Atlantic. He ran for 140 yards and two scores and completed 9 of 14 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns.
"The offense looks to me as a leader," Hermann said. "I have to keep making plays. You get Jayden (Cattell) the ball out in open space, Bryce (Haessig) and Jake (Ihle) the ball out in open space and just keep making plays."
In 2021 Cattell has 11 catches for 248 yards and three touchdowns, including a 71-yard touchdown haul against Atlantic. Ihle has 17 receptions for 235 yards and four scores.
Cattell has been a breakout performer for Ballard this season. Hermann has played a big role in his rise as a playmaker.
"I know if I run hard he's going to get the ball to me and he's gonna put it in a great spot," Cattell said. "The ball's gonna be right there."
Ballard begins Class 3A District 2 competition next Friday. The Bombers will be tested right off the bat with games against two teams currently ranked and 4-0 — No. 7 Humboldt and No. 5 Nevada.
If Ballard is to pull off an upset in one or both of those games it will need to continue its current roll on defense, keep improving on the ground and avoid making mistakes. But if Hermann keeps up his outstanding play the Bombers will have a chance against both the Wildcats and Cubs.
"Things will definitely get harder now," Krogh said. "But we've been improving each week. We have to continue to do that and take it to another level. We've got to keep working up until we start playing our best football."