In years past, when Brainerd ran the wishbone or option offense, it wasn't uncommon for the Warriors to attempt anywhere from 30 to 60 passes a season.
Fast forward to 2007 and quarterback Nate Schaefbauer is on pace to triple the number of attempts while enjoying one of the most prolific passing seasons in program history.
Schaefbauer has thrown the ball with uncanny accuracy, completing 48 of 79 passes (.608) with just two interceptions for 732 yards and four touchdowns. He has flourished behind an offensive line that can pass block and receivers who can get open, catch the ball and take off.
Starters in the trenches include tackles David Titus and Jared Erickson, guards Matt Ashburn, Tom Lyscio and Tyler Blong and center Clint Dwire.
Schaefbauer had a career game in a 31-15 victory over Bemidji, completing 16 of 23 passes with no interceptions for 268 yards and two scores.
"I think we only gave up one sack on a (bootleg) where they sent an extra man on a stunt," Schaefbauer said of the Bemidji game. "Other than that the protection was there all night. I think we've had two total sacks on the year."
Offensive coordinator Jeff Ramey said the pass protection, from the line to the backs, has been "outstanding."
"We haven't been pressured much at all," Ramey said. "When you can stand back and look over a defense without worrying about people in your face, it allows your accuracy and your completion percentage to rise."
Brainerd has one of its best receiving corps in wide receivers Bronson Shepherd, Turner Johnson, Reggie Walters and Mike Gervenak and tight end Scott Ramey.
"Each one runs great routes," Schaefbauer said. "They all can catch the ball and get a lot of yards after the catch."
Schaefbauer broke into the starting lineup last fall, passing for 903 yards and eight scores.
Height: 5-foot-10 1/2
Weight: 170 pounds
Grade-point average: 3.4
Favorite subject: Math
Favorite food: Shrimp
Favorite movie: "Invincible"
Future plans: Attend college, play football
Parents: Phil and Kim Schaefbauer
"He's playing like a veteran quarterback who has worked very hard on his game, which we all appreciate," Warriors head coach Ron Stolski said. "He's the kind of kid who wants to be better.
"He worked so hard to improve his skills, in the weight room and off the field, in the summer. He did all the right things to help himself. He has excellent poise, a strong arm, he can throw the ball medium or deep and makes a lot of good decisions.
"In addition, he's a good field general, a quick runner, the kind of quarterback who can run the kind of offense we want to run. Probably his best trait is he's physically and mentally a tough football player. I think we could play him anywhere and he would be a good football player. He leads by example with his toughness. He's very well respected by our team."
Ramey said Schaefbauer consistently made the correct decisions against Bemidji.
"He did not throw to a covered receiver," Ramey said. "He spread the ball around to a number of different receivers, which made it tough on Bemidji to focus on any receiver.
"We have a number of kids who are capable of catching the ball. Nate has confidence in all of them. He throws the ball to whoever's open. He does a great job finding the open man and delivering the ball on time.
"A big area of improvement is that he delivered the ball more quickly and confidently. As a result we were able to move the ball effectively."
Ramey said Schaefbauer is also a student of the game.
"He likes to look at the opposing defense and coverages and pick them apart in his mind," Ramey said. "We talk a lot about route adjustments. If he sees things he will say, 'Hey coach, what would happen if we did this?' He's not thinking about one play. He's thinking about the entire offense and attacking a defense."
Other notable efforts:
Kayla Huether, girls' tennis, at No. 1 singles, Taylor Headlee at No. 2, Mikinzee Salo at No. 3, and Ashley Bostrom at No. 4 won conference titles as did the No. 2 doubles team of Erica Mortensen-Amber Arnoldy.
Emily Olson, girls' soccer, scored four goals against Little Falls.
Thomas Ruttger and Hannah McAllister, cross country, won titles at the Albany meet.
Mike Bialka may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.