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Prep Football: Paynesville makes emphatic statement

Week One of Tribune-area prep football is in the books and there are some clear signs and others that still are a little murky about how the season might progress from here.

Paynesville is obviously a big first-week winner, defeating BOLD 32-13 in a Friday game in Olivia delayed about 90 minutes by bad weather.

The long pause didn’t affect the Bulldogs, who took control early and played well on both sides of the ball.

Bulldogs quarterback Matthew Quade threw for 291 yards and 3 touchdowns, and the Paynesville defense limited BOLD star back Ben Steffel, a 1,600-yard rusher last season, to just 20 yards on 12 carries.

It’s the second straight game the Bulldogs have won in Olivia and the first time the Warriors have lost consecutive home games to a team since dropping home-openers to Minnesota Valley Lutheran in 2005 and 2006. And consider that BOLD has lost only eight home games since 2004.

Bulldogs head coach Max Meagher said before the season that the Bulldogs may have flown under the radar a little last season but that probably won’t be the case this year. Definitely. They were 10-1 last year, with the lone loss coming against Class AA runner-up Minneota in the section finals. The Bulldogs are beeping brightly on the Class AA screen after Friday’s win.

Five area teams scored impressive wins in Week One but they all come with a “Yeah, but …”.

Dawson-Boyd entered a somewhat new era with a 42-8 dusting of Russell-Tyler-Ruthton on Thursday. The Blackjacks begin their first season in three years without Joey Lee at quarterback. During his tenure, the Blackjacks won the 2011 Class A state championship and advanced to the A semifinals (2012) and the state title game last year.

New QB Jess Hansen was an efficient 11 of 15 for 137 yards and 3 TD passes, Dalton Palmer ran for 141 yards and a score and Michael Lee caught three passes, two of which went for touchdowns.

Yeah, but: RTR is coming off an 0-9 season in 2013 and the Knights last had a winning record in 2005 (7-2). In the eight years since, they are 20-52.

It might be a few weeks before it’s clear where the new-look Blackjacks stand. They play a struggling MACCRAY team in Maynard on Friday, then make a trip to Murray County Central (2-7 last year) before getting Lac qui Parle Valley (Sept. 19) and defending Little Sioux Conference champ and Class AA runner-up Minneota (Sept. 26) in consecutive home games.

LQPV picked up a nice 27-8 home win over Murray County Central on Thursday.

Yeah, but: The Eagles won’t have to wait as long as Dawson-Boyd to assess their progress: Minneota comes to Madison on Friday. Last year, Minneota defeated the Eagles 62-0.

Renville County West nailed down its biggest win in years on Thursday, dominating Alden-Conger 36-0.

The Jaguars ran for 246 yards and held A-C to 81 yards of total offense.

Yeah, but: Alden-Conger is currently mired in a 24-game losing streak and next up for the Jags is a home game against Madelia, which was 8-3 last year. Two of those losses came against Nicollet, which advanced to the 9-man state tournament in 2013.

Montevideo was plenty impressive in a no-questions victory over Benson on Friday. The Thunder Hawks thumped the Braves 38-7, with Markus Kranz running for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns, and Preston Herfurth intercepting three passes, returning one for the game’s first touchdown, and later returning a kickoff 77 yards for another score. Monte’s defense held the Braves to 32 total yards, including minus-40 rushing yards.

Yeah, but: The caveat for the T-Hawks is that Benson is trying to rebuild around a passel of sophomore skill players. The Braves have lost eight straight games and were outscored 145-0 in their last four games of 2013.

Montevideo players and coaches also haven’t forgotten that the T-Hawks looked solid in a 34-13 win over the Braves last year, beat Yellow Medicine East 33-20 the next week to get to 2-2, then lost their last five games of the season.

And, finally, Willmar looked every bit the part of a Central Lakes Conference favorite in a 41-6 blitz of Sauk Rapids in the Cardinals’ home-opener on Friday at Hodapp Field.

The Cards ran for 312 yards, led by Michael Heitzman’s 136 and a TD, and quarterback Auggie Hahn hit 13 of 20 passes for 123 yards and 2 touchdowns, and he ran for 80 yards and two more TDs. The Cards’ defense snuffed out the Storm’s running game, allowing them no yards in just 17 carries.

But …

The Storm’s last winning season was 2010 (7-5) and they are 3-25 since then. Willmar travels to Brainerd on Friday. That’s the same Brainerd that was 12-1 last season, with the only loss coming in the Class AAAAA state championship game. And the Warriors opened 2014 with a 30-6 win over Fergus Falls on the road.

Tom Larson

Tom Larson is the sports editor of the West Central Tribune.

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