Giltner’s Drew Ott had quite a successful high school athletic career.
Ott led the Hornets to three state basketball tournaments, including two straight state championships to end his career.
He also finished second in the shot put to Mike Shoff of Cambridge at the state track meet in May.
But Ott’s No. 1 sport was football, and the Hornets qualified for the state playoffs in each of his four seasons. That included a state final appearance in 2009 that ended with a 68-28 loss to Howells.
“State championship in football,” Ott said when asked about his most memorable high school moments. “It was fun to go to. It wasn’t much fun to play in. I broke my elbow in like the second quarter. Not that it mattered.”
That was the first of three straight playoff losses to Howells for the Hornets, including a narrow 26-20 defeat this past fall in the D-2 quarterfinals.
But Ott, a University of Iowa football recruit, was dominant for the Hornets. He ended the year with 122 tackles (46 solo) despite being stuck on the sidelines for the second half of most games because the Hornets were so far ahead.
Ott had 211 tackles as a sophomore and 168 as a junior from his linebacker position.
He was a force on offense too as a tight end with 52 catches for 960 yards and 18 touchdowns. He even ran a wildcat offense at times and was 7-for-8 passing for 99 yards.
For his success, Ott has been named The Independent’s Boys Athlete of the Year.
Nothing Ott did on the football field surprised Giltner coach Jeff Ashby.
“His work ethic is probably the thing that stands out the most,” Ashby said. “He just worked hard all four years.”
Like in March when the Hornets recorded a rather miraculous 52-41 double-overtime win over Howells in the Class D-2 state championship game on a Saturday night in Lincoln.
“They won their state championship basketball game on Saturday night, got home midnight or maybe 1 o’clock, and he was in the weight room Monday morning,” Ashby said. “He didn’t rest and take time off because they won a state championship in basketball. His whole goal is to play at Iowa and play as soon as possible. His work ethic has taken him this far.”
Ott certainly worked hard for the Giltner basketball team. He averaged 18 points and 11.7 rebounds a game for the unbeaten Hornets his senior season.
“He was a big. physical guy and took defense very seriously,” Giltner boys basketball coach Matt Drew said. “That allowed us to be very aggressive on defense because we had that big guy back behind us we could count on to block all those shots. He was a natural shot blocker.”
Drew said Ott also understood that — as possibly the strongest basketball player in the state at 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds regardless of class — the best place for him was under the basket.
“He probably could have shot some more elbow shots, but he understood his physical dominance and worked for what he could get,” Drew said. “He was smart that way and was a great team player. He was willing to pass the ball out.”
Ott also understood how to draw contact underneath. He wasn’t a great free-throw shooter, but a lot of times he could get the ball in the basket despite being fouled.
Opponents tried to be physical against him, but Drew said Ott handled it well.
“I never once saw him complain about a ref,” he said. “It never bothered him, working through fouling and getting fouled every night.”
Through his career, Ott knew football was his future.
Ott attended camps at Iowa, Kansas State and Nebraska last summer. Kansas State, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota State all offered scholarships.
After fielding a number of offers — but no scholarship offer from Nebraska — he verbally committed to Iowa last summer.
That commitment came several summers of football camps that began with Ott going along with Giltner quarterback Nate Most.
“We had a pretty good player named Most,” Ott said. “When Nate was going to camps, Ashby would say, ‘You should tag along just to get your name out there.’ So I went to a couple of those camps and did all right.”
No wonder. There wasn’t much Ott couldn’t do on the football field.
“He really didn’t have any weaknesses at football, but he knew what he needed to get done,” Ashby said. “He knew if somebody was going to mess up he needed to be there to clean up after them.”
Ott will play defensive end at Iowa, but he played linebacker in the annual Shrine Football Classic on June 2.
The change from 11-man to 8-man made Ott’s role a bit different.
“Eight-man I’m just flying around all over the place, looking for the ball,” Ott said. “In 11-man I have to stay put for gap control. It’s kind of hard to read because you have really big linemen and a little running back back there.”