One game does not define a season. The fact that the Paynesville Bulldogs 2A state semi-final opponent was an undefeated, two-time state champion who last was involved in a one-score game was in the second week of the season doesn't diminish the season the Bulldogs had. They got to the semi-finals for the first time since 1979 and amassed a 10-3 record for a reason – reasons we will highlight now.
Defensively the Bulldogs held five opponents under twenty points – including a shutout in the third week of the season.
Early in Thursday's game safety Zach Schroeder came across the field to get in good position to defend a deep pass.
Cornerback Sam Oehrlein was in tight coverage on an outside receiver. Then later after a short completion, he made a tackle in the open field that could have resulted in a first down. On the offensive side of the ball, he caught an out pattern, broke a couple of tackles and picked up a first down.
In their six regular-season victories, Paynesville scored over 40 points a game and despite Caledonia's stifling defense the Bulldogs' offense showed flashes of that regular season success.
On a designed run, quarterback Max Weidner ran behind Jack Poepping for a six-yard gain. Later he ran behind guard Jadon Holzer and tackle Trevor Hemmesch for a first down. The junior quarterback showed good movement in the pocket as well. He scrambled for five yards and then on a third and long he scrambled for another first down.
Running back Schroeder got free to the outside behind Holzer, and Jake Arnold had some success running between the tackles. Like his quarterback, the junior running back has been a productive runner all season for the Bulldogs. In the section final, he ran for over 100 yards.
The Bulldogs had some success running some trap plays. Jared Campbell and Poepping both showed good ability to get across the formation and open a hole with trap blocks.
Weidner threw a nice ball to the outside to connect with Grant Ludwig on an out route.
In the second half – although the result of the game was decided Paynesville's first-team offense got into the end zone with a 38-yard run by Schroeder – who was the team's most effective runner with eight carries for 60 yards.