Area high school feature: Big reputation, big production

Last week, the focal point of the Lakota/Adams-Edmore defense was to stop Braydon Gourneau. It was no secret that to shut down Dakota Prairie, Gourneau had to be contained.

Last week, the focal point of the Lakota/Adams-Edmore defense was to stop Braydon Gourneau. It was no secret that to shut down Dakota Prairie, Gourneau had to be contained.

The secret was -- and still is -- how to do that.

All Gourneau did was score eight touchdowns, pass for another and accumulate 532 yards in total offense as Dakota Prairie's 9-man high school football team beat Lakota/A-E 72-44.

"He's hard to tackle," L/A-E- coach Joe Harder said. "He's strong, he hits hard and he's shifty."

While Friday may have been a career game for Gourneau, the senior quarterback has been a handful for every defense Dakota Prairie has played this season. The Knights have totaled 37 touchdowns; Gourneau has had a hand in 33 of those either by rushing (19), passing (13) or returning kicks (one).


In rushing and passing, he's combined for more than 315 yards in every game for the 4-3 Knights. Gourneau has 2,679 yards in total offense, an average of 387.2 per game.

"Everybody knows Braydon's our offense," Dakota Prairie coach Garrett Magner said. "He has six sets of eyes from the defense on him all the time. But he's shifty and fast. And he's a 4.0 student. If he sees something, he's smart enough to go for it."

Big-yardage quarterbacks aren't new to Magner's Knights. Tyler Luehring was a North Dakota 9-man second team all-state pick each of the past two seasons. In 2007, Seth Nichols was a first-team selection.

Luehring and Nichols were pass-first quarterbacks who also accumulated big rushing yardage. Gourneau, on the other hand, is a run-first quarterback.

"I'm more of a running back with a quarterback's title," Gourneau said. "This year is the first time I've played quarterback. I'm more of a running type. I'll look for the pass, but I don't have a lot of patience. If there's nothing open right away, I take off."

He's already rushed for 1,865 yards, almost 700 yards more than either Luehring or Nichols gained on the ground in their all-state seasons. But Gourneau's 814 yards on 61-of-115 passing are far behind the passing totals of either Luehring or Nichols in their all-state seasons.

Gourneau's an all-around athlete. He was the top reserve on the Dakota Prairie boys basketball team that was state runner-up in the 2008-09 season, and is a two-time all-state shortstop in baseball. The 5-foot-10, 180-pounder also leads the Knights defense, averaging 11½ tackles per game.

But quarterback?


"Braydon plays quarterback, but he's the best running back I've ever coached," Magner said. "The way we set up in the I formation, Braydon takes the snap in the shotgun and we let him run. And our line has done a good job. I think they're a little underrated.

"I'm surprised teams aren't forcing us to pass more. They're still going out to cover our receivers. Maybe we're throwing just enough to spread the field. And Braydon isn't a bad passer. If someone is open, he'll put the ball in their hands."

Gourneau knows teams are keying on him. "I'll hear coaches every once in awhile yelling, 'Watch out for No. 28.' You kind of take it as a compliment."

Opponents may be watching out for Gourneau, but it isn't helping. He's had his hand in a minimum of three touchdowns and more than 315 yards in total offense in every game, topped by last Friday's offensive outburst.

"It was crazy," Gourneau said. "We just kept scoring and scoring. It really surprised me."

Gourneau is no surprise. The unknown is how to contain him.

DeVillers reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1128; (800) 477-6572, ext. 128; or send e-mail to .

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