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Orion's Dawson Schulenberg

Orion linemen Michael Seabloom, Cade Jackson, Austin Mack, Gage Eastin, and Ben Dunlap surround their quarterback and this week's Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline Area Pacesetter Dawson Schulenberg. Schulenburg threw for 186 yards and scored two touchdowns (one rushing, one passing) in a 31-0 win over Rockridge last Friday that capped a 9-0 regular season for Class 2A's second-ranked Chargers.

ORION — When he was younger, Dawson Schulenberg got to watch his older brother Colton rewrite the record book as the star quarterback for the Orion football team.

Nearly eight years after his brother graduated, Schulenberg has yet to set any records, but is making quite the mark as the signal-caller for an undefeated Charger squad.

In leading Orion to a 9-0 record, including a 6-0 mark to earn the Three Rivers Conference’s Rock Division title, this week’s Dispatch-Argus-QCOnline Area Pacesetter has completed 75 percent of his passes (90-of-120) for 1,612 yards and 27 touchdowns while throwing no interceptions.

“There was really no pressure on me to be like Colton,” said Schulenberg. “He’s been real supportive and has helped me along the way. Having him on the sidelines this year has really helped. We’re able to talk things through.”

A week after a 14-for-14, 250-yard, four-TD performance in a 57-0 shutout of Bureau Valley, Schulenberg was close to perfect in last Friday’s 31-0 win over Rockridge. He hit on 7-of-9 attempts for 186 yards and a touchdown, and finished the night with 233 total yards and two TDs.

“Finishing 9-0, that was a big goal for us,” said the 6-foot-1, 185-pound senior standout. “We knew we’d have to play some pretty good teams in the playoffs, and to be able to beat teams such as Sterling Newman and Rockridge, that helps prepare us for the postseason.”

The Chargers’ 20-17 victory at Newman in the season’s third week showed Schulenberg and his teammates that this season had the potential to be something special.

“Newman’s a team we’ve always struggled to beat,” he said. “We lost to them twice last year (including the Class 2A quarterfinals), and they’re really good year in and year out. To beat them, it showed we have a lot of potential.”

Seeded second in the upcoming 2A postseason, Orion will welcome No. 15 Minonk Fieldcrest (5-4) to Charger Field for Saturday’s 1 p.m. opening-round matchup.

Having advanced to the semifinals just once, in 2007, the goal for the Chargers is to build on their regular-season success and break new ground for the program.

“This is really the second season,” said Schulenberg, who has also rushed for 275 yards and three TDs in addition to his glittering passing numbers. “What has happened before this weekend doesn’t matter much anymore. We’ve got to focus on the next game.”

One person who is not surprised by his quarterback’s focus and mental acumen is Orion head coach Chip Filler.

“As far as physical skills, Dawson is phenomenal. This year, from the neck up he’s playing quarterback better than anybody I’ve ever had, aside from Colton,” Filler stated. “Dawson knows what I want to do offensively. We finish each other’s sentences.”

After seeing some starting duty as a sophomore, Schulenberg succeeded Craig Matson as the starter last fall and led the Chargers to a 9-3 finish and their fifth appearance in the quarterfinal round.

That experience has paid off handsomely for Schulenberg as he has also successfully transitioned into a leadership role for his younger teammates.

“Playing quarterback, that’s a big leadership role, so it was important for me to step into that and help guide the rest of the team,” he said. “Last year’s experience helped me a ton with that.”

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