(From Northwest Missouri State Athletics – Via SID Colin McDonough)
For a school that has produced exemplary quarterback play for the better part of three decades it’s rare that the Northwest Missouri State Bearcat football team would enter a season without an experienced signal caller.
“We haven’t been in this situation for awhile,” offensive coordinator Charlie Flohr said. “But the good thing is we have so many talented guys surrounding the quarterback. That will help ease the burden and not have the quarterback having to do more than they can handle.”
As the Bearcats embark on the 2018 season only one of three quarterbacks in competition for the starting job has even thrown a pass in competition. Sophomore Jadyn Kowalski (Bellevue, Neb.) completed a 38-yard pass to Joe Straws in the fourth quarter of last fall’s 63-0 win over Missouri Southern.
Kowalski passed for 6,226 yards and 83 touchdowns, while rushing for 15 more touchdowns, in his prep career. He was named to the Nebraska Gatorade Player of the Year and the state’s USA Today Player of the Year.
“Jadyn is more of a pocket guy with great arm strength,” Flohr said. “He’s not really a runner, but he’s a deep ball threat.”
Sophomore Joe Brannan (Jacksonville, Ill.) battled injuries in his first two years in the Bearcat program. Brannan earned honorable mention all-state honors in Illinois as a prep quarterback.
“Joe is a mixture of both a running and throwing quarterback,” Flohr said. “He’s able to do both as he can run it and throw it. This past spring was the first time we could get him on the field because of his injuries.”
Redshirt freshman Braden Wright (Elkhorn, Neb.) won a pair of state championships in Nebraska. Wright was named to the Class B all-state team as a high school player.
“Braden is a young guy,” Flohr said. “He’s a runner first and then a thrower.”
Flohr said he knows there are always going to be high expectations on the Bearcat quarterback slot.
“There is always going to be pressure at Northwest to be the starting quarterback,” Flohr said. “It’s hard to live up to, but we remind them that they aren’t Zach Martin, Jonathan Baker or Kyle Zimmerman. They know what their limitations are and they trust that the coaching staff will put them in situations that will allow them to be successful.”
Flohr said he knows this group can handle the job because they’ve done it before and that’s part of the reason they were recruited to Northwest.
“We target quarterbacks that come from winning programs,” Flohr said. “We want them to have been successful and have taken part in critical moments like state championships. We pair that up with great leadership skills on and off the field and those are the intangibles we want. We want to see how they handle adversity and leadership through multi-sport experiences.”
Bearcat quarterbacks still must produce and lead the program.
“Our expectations are higher at Northwest, but we always say ‘do your one/11th’ within your play and we will be successful,” Flohr said. “Rely on your teammates and that will take the pressure off of you trying to do things you aren’t equipped to handle.”
Flohr is entering his 13th year on the Northwest football staff. He and his family are enjoying every minute as Bearcats.
“It was a place I didn’t know a whole lot about when I got here for graduate school,” Flohr said. “It’s a special place. We put an emphasis on the quality of student-athletes we recruit. I trust my kids to come out to practice and interact with our players because I know how good of people they are.”