Scoring points has not been a problem for the Pine River-Backus Tigers this season.
One of many reasons has been the play of first-year varsity quarterback Beau Howard.
The senior moved from wide out to behind center this season, but may as well call the end zone his place of residence.
Howard scored on a 2-yard touchdown run and threw for three more touchdowns in the Tigers’ 40-12 North Star Conference win over the Walker-Hackensack-Akeley Wolves Sept. 7.
The three-year varsity player hit Jace Loge on a 19-yard touchdown pass to open the second-quarter scoring. He then hit Brandon Mager on a 3-yard scoring pass and again found Loge on a 14-yard strike to hand PR-B a 34-6 halftime lead.
“We’re really having a lot of fun right now and I’m just trying to be a leader and get everyone on the same page,” said Howard. “Winning is fun and we’re hoping to keep it up.
“But I’m not surprised by how well we’re doing. The coaches do an extremely good job of forming the offense around the strengths and weaknesses of the players.”
Howard said Tigers coach Tom Demars is giving him the keys to the offense and that has allowed him to improvise when needed. But there was some uncertainty about who was going to be the Tigers’ quarterback this season.
“After some workouts in the summer, and right away during fall practice, it was pretty obvious,” said Demars. “Beau put in a lot of work and worked hard this summer to make himself a better athlete, not just a better football player. He put in some time and it shows.
“He’s athletically significantly stronger and faster this year. But going into the summer we didn’t think he would be where he is at right now. After the summer workouts and fall practices it was evident he was well past what we were expecting.”
In the Tigers’ season-opening victory over Fosston, Howard threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns on 9-of-13 passing. He added 63 yards and a touchdown on six rushing attempts.
“The coaches always tell me to pass the ball, but when in doubt to pull the ball down and run with it,” said Howard. “That’s why I spent so much time in the weight room this summer so I could take the hits from the linebackers. But the timing with my receivers really came quick. Having been a receiver helps. I can tell the guys if they run a route a certain way I can get the ball in a better spot.”
Last season, Howard caught 31 passes for 534 yards and nine touchdowns. He also tallied 23 tackles, three interceptions and one fumble recovery to earn All-North Star Conference and receive Brainerd Dispatch All-Area honorable mention honors.
When he’s not throwing touchdown passes, he’s preventing the opposition from doing the same from his free safety position, but Howard has a battle on his hands. Not with opposing offenses, but his coaches.
“Coach Demars says he might try and take me off the defense so I can get a rest and not get hurt, but it’s fun being out there,” said Howard with a laugh.
When you’re 2-0, and outscoring opponents 79-12, most things are fun.
Other notable performances:
Cross country: Mike Ryan, Pequot Lakes, won the Pequot Lakes Invite in 17:44.
Football: Evan VanErp, Wadena-Deer Creek, rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown and threw for 93 yards and another score against Ottertail Central.
Zack Olander, Crosby-Ironton, rushed for 161 yards and two touchdowns against Rush City.
Dylan Wasserzieher, Crosby-Ironton, rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown against Rush City.
Travis Richards, Pillager, rushed for 118 yards and two touchdowns against Blackduck.
Jeff Flickinger, Pillager, rushed for 89 yards and three touchdowns against Blackduck.
Soccer: Tim Infinger, Little Falls, scored three goals against Princeton.
Connor Jorgensen, Little Falls, scored three goals against Princeton.