COLLEGEVILLE - Paynesville is heading back to the Class AA state tournament for the second year in a row and it could not have come in more emphatic fashion.
The Bulldogs overcame a slow start and rolled past Minnewaska 56-0 in the Section 5AA championship at St. John's University.
Paynesville's first state tournament game is scheduled for 7 p.m. Nov. 9 at Alexandria High School against the champions of Section 6AA.
Minnewaska's strong defense, who allowed just 13.7 points per game all year, held the Bulldogs in check in the opening quarter with good interior line play. Paynesville quarterback Max Weidner snuck in for six points in the first quarter but things remained close in the early going.
"Their defense had been lights out so we were concerned about taking care of business up front but we were able to make some plays and they were loading up the box to stop the run so we were able to go over the top with the pass and be effective with that," said Paynesville head coach Max Meagher. "We missed on some things early on and credit to them, their defense is good so they got some stops. But obviously the fact that our defense kept just making stops really set us up well."
Paynesville burst the game open with 30 unanswered points in the second quarter to cruise to 36-0 at halftime.
Weidner, who ran for the game's second touchdown, excelled in the air to rack up second quarter points. The game was chock full of Paynesville highlights but Weidner's best came via a 49-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell Schlangen as time expired in the first half to push it to 36-0.
Paynesville added 20 points in the second half and continued to keep up the pressure defensively to earn the shutout and the second-straight trip to the state tournament.
Stats from Friday's game were not available at press time.
See wctrib.com and Monday's E-edition for team and individual statistics