Give him time to operate and Mandan quarterback Kaden Krause will be licking his chops. He has targets that are big, strong and inviting.
Mandan's offensive line gave Krause, a 6-foot-1, 165-pound senior, plenty of time to perform his magic in a 40-0 season-opening victory over Grand Forks Central on Friday night.
Krause's corps of receivers reads like a basketball team. All five of his touchdown passes went to receivers who stand 6-foot-4 or taller. Elijah Klein (6-5) caught three balls for 83 yards and two scores, Trae Steckler (6-4, caught four passes for 81 yards and a touchdown, Camren Steckler (6-6) hauled in a pass for a 17-yard TD and Kobe Poitra (6-4) snared a 3-yard TD strike.
"You can throw it up to them and they can go up and get it, just like a rebound," said Krause, who finished the night 10-for-14 for 364 yards.
Mandan scored in every quarter, putting up two touchdowns in each of the first two periods and a tally apiece in the final two quarters. Most of the second half was played with the clock-running mercy rule in effect.
Mandan, 2-7 last season, won two of its final three games. Braves head coach Todd Sheldon said the after-effects of the strong finish could be seen Friday night at Faris Field.
"At the end of last season we built some confidence ... and the majority of what you saw tonight was those kids saying they were going to take care of business," Sheldon observed.
While Mandan moved the ball efficiently, piling up 20 first downs, Central struggled to maintain any offense. The Knights managed only five first downs and 76 yards of total offense. Central failed to push the ball inside the Mandan 40.
Junior running back Jackson Zittleman led Mandan's ground game, picking up 57 yards in 18 carries and scoring the game's final touchdown. Krause and his understudy, Dane Carlson, went upstairs for 430 yards.
Krause said Friday's all-around effort should provide the Braves with some momentum going into another non-regional game next week at Fargo South.
"This generates a lot of momentum. It gets the guys in high spirits and keeps us motivated," he said.
Sheldon, too, said he liked the way his offense took advantage of Central's weaknesses.
"We wanted Krause to take advantage of what they gave him and go all-out on it. He was very effective that way," Sheldon said.
The setback was the sixth in a row for Central, which finished last season 1-8.