Prep Football: Quade excels through talent, hard work
Now in his third year as a starter, Paynesville's Matthew Quade is building himself quite a resume as the Bulldogs' quarterback. The senior has helped lead the team to 17 wins, including three playoff victories, a West Central Conference champion...
Now in his third year as a starter, Paynesville’s Matthew Quade is building himself quite a resume as the Bulldogs’ quarterback.
The senior has helped lead the team to 17 wins, including three playoff victories, a West Central Conference championship, and in the last two years he’s 4-0 against the conference’s other two powerhouses, BOLD and ACGC.Quade set several school passing records and he guided the team to a school-record 434 points in 2013. He passed and ran for almost 2,400 yards and 27 touchdowns and earned the conference’s MVP award. And he’s only getting better. Check that: A lot better. The Bulldogs are 2-0 after convincing wins at BOLD and in their home-opener against ACGC. They head into Friday’s game at Melrose averaging 44 points and 387 passing yards per game. Quade last year threw for 1,779 yards and 16 touchdowns. If he keeps up his current pace, he’ll be closing in on those totals by midseason. He already holds Paynesville’s school records for completions, yards and touchdowns in a game, season and career. Quade is not deaf to those singing Paynesville’s praises - the Bulldogs have gone from unranked to No. 4 in the Associated Press’ state Class AA poll in two weeks - but he’s not about to join in the chorus just two games into the season. “We’ve definitely come out firing, for sure,” he said of a 32-13 win over BOLD and a 56-28 win last week over ACGC. “But like our coach (Max Meagher) said, we’ve got a target on our back now. Everybody is bringing their best game, trying to knock us off. Just focus, show up and know it’s not going to be easy.” That’s pretty much the attitude that has transformed Quade from a green sophomore replacing a Bulldogs legend to a veritable graybeard prep quarterback who has surpassed the accomplishments of that legend in some ways. Josh Bungum, now a top receiver at St. John’s University, was an all-everything Bulldogs running back his last two years. As a senior, Bungum took over behind center early in the year and ran for 2,539 yards, threw for 1,299 more and accounted for 45 total touchdowns as Paynesville went 8-4 and earned its fi rst Class AA state tournament berth. That Meagher would turn to a sophomore to succeed a talent like Bungum speaks to Quade’s athleticism - he ran for 609 yards and 11 TDs last year - and his evolving grasp of the game. “He has tremendous athletic skills,” Meagher said. “The arm strength and the accuracy have been there all along. Now he has experience in the system we’ve been running and we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to run some of the same concepts over the years so we haven’t had to retrain. It’s Matt’s third year as a starter so he understands a lot of the things we’re asking him to do and he makes good decisions.” Quade quickly points to his offensive line and a talented group of receivers to explain the Bulldogs’ seemless transition from a 10-1 team in 2013 that relied on several key seniors to one that has burst, Bolt-like, from the blocks. Right guard Anthony Wendlandt was the team’s lone returning starter on the offensive line. Senior left tackle Travis Heiserich, junior left guard Noah Kubat, senior center Jacob Mages and junior right tackle Matthew Floura became full-time starters tasked with keeping the big block humming on the Bulldogs’ race car attack. “Our offensive line stepped up from last year,” Quade said. “We lost four seniors (on the line) so they had to step up and they’ve done a good job so far. I believe we can do a lot better, too. We have to establish the run more but we’ve been able to run when we’ve had to. It’s all a new experience for them but they’ve all done a real good job.” And Quade’s not above kicking in his higher gears. A 23-8 loss to Class AA runner-up Minneota in last year’s Section 5AA final was the only blemish on the Bulldogs’ season and proved to be ample motivation for this season. Barely a week removed from that loss, members of the team were back in the weight room preparing for this season’s opener, he said. Quade shaved off some fat and muscled-up his 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame in the weight room. He worked diligently in Meagher’s summertime 7-on-7 Wednesday night passing league, and he picked up valuable pointers on his footwork during an offseason camp at Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall. Quade’s offseason work was mostly on-field, but he did some statistical studies as well. While he spread the ball around well to his receivers last season, he noticed that a vast majority of his touchdown throws were to receivers Nick Dingmann and Andrew Topp. He notes that Bulldogs receiver Mitchell Weidner has three TD receptions so far this season after not catching a scoring pass last year. “It showed that I was only throwing to those guys last year,” Quade said. “A lot of guys got catches, but when it came to the touchdown column, I was relying on two guys. I wanted to spread it around more because there will come times when we need to do that.” Quade’s also thinking big picture with his desire to beef up the Bulldogs’ running game, ostensibly planning for that Friday night when the Bulldogs’ passing attack runs into resistance from a good pass defense or poor weather. His coach is more utilitarian, especially knowing who he has at the controls of his offense. “The goal is to score points any way we can,” Meagher said. “I’m not too picky about which way we do it. Obviously, at some point in time, we’re going to have to run the football so we do have to continue to get better. At the same time, if teams aren’t going to stop our pass, we’re not going to run just for the sake of running.” Stuck in their craw, however, might be the critical element to the Bulldogs’ 2014 season. They didn’t play anything like they felt they could against Minneota in the section fi nal. That bitter loss got the players in the weight room and back on the fi eld this summer with a special motivation. The Bulldogs approach 2-0 Melrose, a team they beat 32-0 last year, as a monumental threat. Even a 19-point win over BOLD and a four-touchdown victory over ACGC haven’t left the Bulldogs complacent. “Yeah, that’s not going to get us any points on Friday, unfortunately” Meagher said. “But if we each got to bring in points from the other wins, Melrose would bring in about as many as us.” “That (Minneota) game was tough,” Quade said. “We were so close but we just couldn’t get over the top. That put a lot of motivation back into all our players to get back in the weight room and get ready for that first game.” And every game after it.