FARGO — In Week 3 of the football season last year, Fargo Shanley quarterback Kaden Kueneman fell into the end zone with some Watford City players on his back falling with him. He stayed in for the next series and scored a touchdown on a quarterback sneak not realizing he had broken his collarbone.
"That was the most painful experience of my life," Kueneman said after No. 2 Shanley rolled Watford City 58-0 Friday to move to 3-0.
Kueneman was offered a plane ride home at halftime last season when he broke his collarbone in Watford City. The injury cost him his quarterback position, and he didn't play again until the Class 2A state championship game, Shanley's only loss of the season.
He said no to the plane ride that night and chose to stay with his teammates and take the seven-hour bus ride back from Watford City with his arm in a sling and no painkillers.
"We were in a game, and once you're in a battle, I'm not going to leave my teammates," Kueneman said. "I chose to stay until the end. Obviously, it was a great team win last year and a great team win today."
Kueneman was back on a football field against Watford City on Friday. He left Sid Cichy Stadium with a much shorter and far less painful drive home, along with a rushing and a passing touchdown.
"It's hard for any kid, for as much as they put in for preparation in the offseason and all they do in the weight room," Shanley coach Troy Mattern said of Kueneman's injury last season. "Anytime anyone gets hurt you feel awful for them. We told him he had to still be a leader and get us better. He's like having another coach on our sidelines, and he helps the younger kids get in position, and he knows our offense inside and out. He's a mentor to our young kids, and we're very appreciative for what he does."
Shanley was up 36-0 by the time Watford City got its lone first down of the first half with 7 minutes, 28 seconds remaining in the half. Kueneman found Braden DeKeyser for a 17-yard touchdown pass on Shanley's first drive of the game. Cole Friederichs recovered a fumble at the Watford City 12-yard line on the next play from scrimmage, and three plays later Kueneman pushed into the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown on fourth-and-1.
"It was a long road back, but I'm just glad to be back here," Kueneman said. "My family and my teammates and my doctors got me through it. We came out here a year later and we're back."
Kueneman now has five touchdown passes and two rushing touchdowns on the season for 3-0 Shanley.
"We're excited to have him back," Mattern said.
Friederichs had touchdown runs of 38, 35, and 8 yards, Cade Busek added a 32-yard touchdown run, Joe Kava got a safety and Austin Manuel had a 9-yard touchdown run in the first half. The Deacons took a 50-0 lead into halftime, starters were taken out and eyes went to next week's matchup in Casselton against No. 3-ranked Central Cass.
"We're excited," Mattern said. "It's kind of a mini rivalry, being just down the interstate. We're excited for them. We're excited to go out to their new facility and play on their new field. These kids love playing them. It's going to be a fun game for us."
Kueneman didn't mince words about what it was like watching from the sideline last season. He doesn't plan on doing any watching in this his senior season.
"It sucked," Kueneman said. "Every week I wanted to be out there. It was tougher mentally than physically. It crushes you to not be out there with your team. Tonight, to be out there, to be behind those linemen, to have my receivers and my running back behind me, it felt great."
WC 0 0 0 0—0
FS 27 23 8 0—58
FS-DeKeyser 17 pass from Kueneman (kick missed)
FS-Kueneman 3 run (Motschenbacher kick)
FS-Friederichs 38 run (Motschenbacher kick)
FS-Busek 32 run (Motschenbacher kick)
FS-Friederichs 8 run (Motschenbacher kick)
FS-Friederichs 35 run (Motschenbacher kick)
FS-Manuel 9 run (Motschenbacher kick)
FS-Kochmann 12 pass from Mattern (Dean run)