Paynesville Area is heading back to the Class AA state tournament for the second year in a row, and it could not have come in more emphatic fashion.
The Bulldogs overcame a slow start and rolled past Minnewaska 56-0 in the Section 5AA championship game at St. John's University in Collegeville on Friday.
Minnewaska's strong defense, which allowed just 13.7 points per game all year, held the Bulldogs (8-2) in check in the opening quarter with good interior line play. Paynesville quarterback Max Weidner snuck in for six points in the quarter, but things remained close in the early going.
Paynesville burst the game open with 30 unanswered points in the second quarter to cruise ahead 36-0 at halftime.
Weidner, who ran for the game's second touchdown, excelled in the air attack to rack up second-quarter points. The game was chock-full of Paynesville highlights but Weidner's best came via a 49-yard touchdown pass to Mitchell Schlangen as time expired in the first half to push it to 36-0.
Paynesville added 20 points in the third quarter and continued to keep up the pressure defensively, earning the shutout and the second-straight trip to the state tournament.
The Lakers finished with just 108 yards of total offense, compared to Paynesville’s 494. Darion Alexander led the Minnewaska offense with 35 rushing yards on four attempts, while Ryan Amundson and Tyson Meyer each pitched in 23.
The Lakers finished the game with six turnovers and one takeaway.
Minnewaska ends the season 8-3 and graduates nine seniors: Amundson, Joe Piekarski, Hunter Moen, Jack Blevins, Cade Fish, John Helander, Tanner Steffen, Jackson Peterson and Jacob Juetten.
MINNEWASKA 0 0 0 0 - 0
PAYNESVILLE 6 30 20 0 - 56