QB Quade back to lead upstart Paynesville
Paynesville isn’t trying to rest on its laurels.
But after going 8-0 to win the West Central Conference championship, and finishing 10-1 overall last fall, the Bulldogs have a right to be proud.
“Being the defending champions puts pressure on you, but we have the players and potential to do it again,” Bulldogs senior tailback/linebacker Alex Kranz said. “If we all do our jobs, we should be a tough team again this year.”
With stellar senior quarterback Matthew Quade returning, there are high expectations around Paynesville. Quade threw for 1,779 yards and 16 touchdowns last season and had eight interceptions. He also ran for 609 yards and 11 scores.
“Anytime you bring a guy back with that kind of experience, it puts you three steps ahead of the game at the start of the season,” sixth-year Paynesville head coach Max Meagher said. “As long as he keeps progressing throughout the year, we have that much more potential.”
The 6-foot-1, 181-pound Quade helped organize a Wednesday night passing league during the summer and attended a passing camp at Southwest Minnesota State.
“I threw the ball around a lot this summer,” Quade said. “I learned how to become more accurate with my throws. I’ll know how to read a defense better this year and my footwork will be better. We’re a lot farther along than we were at this time last year.”
Quade wants to spread the ball around in the passing game. His top targets will be senior wide receivers Nick Dingmann and Mitch Weidner. Dingmann had 27 catches for 454 yards and nine TDs last season while Weidner had 16 catches for 201 yards.
“I think I can become a better and more accurate passer,” Quade said. “Last year I relied on Andrew Topp and Nick too much. This year I want to spread it around.”
Paynesville lost four of its five starting offensive lineman from last year. The only returning starter is 6-1, 190-pound guard Anthony Wendlandt.
The Bulldogs will rely on a three-headed attack out of the backfield with seniors Bryce Savage and Trent Gertken and junior Grant Thompson. Savage ran for 722 yards and six TDs.
“I’m a pulling guard, so I have to get in front of those guys, otherwise they’ll beat you to the hole,” Wendlandt said. “I like to pull for those guys and we like to go right up the gut. We’re going to run it right down team’s throats if they take the pass away.”
The Bulldogs return eight starters on defense, with Savage, Gertken and Kranz back at linebacker, Quade, Dingmann and Thompson are back at the safeties, and Weidner and Brandon Schleper return at cornerback.