It’s rare for a sophomore to start at quarterback for the Verndale Pirates.
Even more rare is that sophomore already has a year of starting experience.
But Dillon Card is a rare athlete. The sophomore stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 200 pounds. That size helped the Pirates’ starting quarterback carry the load during a 20-14 Pheasant Conference victory over Hillcrest Lutheran Academy Sept. 21.
Card rushed for 193 yards on 39 carries, scoring on runs of 21 and 2 yards. He also threw the ball, despite windy conditions, for 36 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown pass to Dallas Ehrmantraut.
“He’s good at throwing the ball,” said Verndale head coach Mike Mahlen. “Last year, he completed 60 percent of his passes and only threw a couple of interceptions. The one thing he did last year, though, was he got sacked too many times. He’s learned to get rid of the ball more quickly. He knows when he has to either run with the ball or get rid of it by throwing it quicker.”
The victory improved Verndale to 3-1 overall.
During Verndale’s 36-12 victory over Bertha-Hewitt Sept. 14, Card rushed for 80 yards and threw for 96 yards on 4-of-6 passing. He also rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another.
That offensive balance was what Verndale was hoping for against Hillcrest, but the weather forced a heavy load on Card.
“He’s not really quick, but he’s a good runner and he makes some nice cuts and he’s powerful,” Mahlen said of Card who also wrestles and plays baseball. “He’s hard to bring down. We weren’t expecting him to run the ball 39 times. Going into the game that wasn’t our game plan, it just happened to end that way.
“There was a really strong wind that day and toward the end of the game, when we were trying to run out the clock, he carried the ball eight straight times because we didn’t really want to hand the ball off in those wet conditions.”
Despite his age, Card handles his role as quarterback well.
“His poise and leadership are his biggest improvements from last year,” Mahlen added. “He’s playing with a lot more confidence this year. He’s a natural leader. The kids accept him as a leader even though sometimes it’s a hard thing to do when you’re young like that.”
In Verndale’s first loss this season, a 36-8 defeat Sept. 7 at Underwood. Card threw for 109 yards and a touchdown on 10-of-15 passing.
He rushed for 171 yards and three touchdowns and threw for 97 yards and another score against Hancock in the season opener.
Other notable performances:
Football: Blaine Cooper, Wadena-Deer Creek, finished with 118 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries and caught two passes for six yards and another score against Long Prairie-Grey Eagle.
Evan VanErp, Wadena-Deer Creek, finished with 106 yards and a touchdown against Long Prairie-Grey Eagle.
Beau Howard, Pine River-Backus, rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown and threw for 136 yards and three more scores against Bagley.
Travis Richards, Pillager, rushed for 123 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries against Lake of the Woods.
Josh Lanners, Pierz, rushed for 165 yards and two touchdowns against Kimball.
Dylan Wasserzieher, Crosby-Ironton, rushed for 152 yards and a touchdown against Aitkin.
Soccer: Tim Infinger, Little Falls, finished with three goals against Becker.