Barnesville sophomore leading the Trojans in first year ever playing quarterback

Barnesville sophomore Adam Tonsfeldt (5) was asked last season to take over as quarterback of the Trojans. He had never played quarterback. He will lead the Trojans into the Minnesota Class 2A state championship game Friday. David Samson / The Forum

Barnesville, Minn.

The principal at Barnesville High School also happens to be the varsity football coach. So when Adam Tonsfeldt was called down to the principal's office last year, he had no idea how to mentally prepare. Considering the only smudge on his high school record is an A- in geometry, the principal's office was not very familiar to Tonsfeldt.

Bryan Strand told the freshman to sit down when he got to the office. There was an exhale from Tonsfeldt because Strand would never have allowed him to get comfortable if he were in trouble.

Strand told Tonsfeldt he wanted him to play quarterback in his new offensive scheme next season. Tonsfeldt had never played quarterback. He was a tailback. Suddenly the chair wasn't so comfortable.

"He said it was the best move for the team," Tonsfeldt said. "That's what he wanted, so that's what was going to be done."

Tonsfeldt, now a sophomore, will line up at quarterback to lead Barnesville into the Minnesota Class 2A state title game against Caledonia at 1 p.m. Friday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Strand was asked after Barnesville beat Minneapolis North in the semifinals what it was about his T-formation offense that's so confusing for a defense.

"He being so short," Strand said of Tonsfeldt. "They can't find him. It's really hard to find him."

Barnesville quarterback Adam Tonsfeldt breaks through the Minneapolis North defense for a big gain during Friday's Minnesota Class 2A state semifinal football game at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Joe Brown / Forum News Service

Tonsfeldt has heard it all when it comes to his height. Say what you want about it, but that 5-foot-7 sophomore rushed for 99 yards on 12 carries, while also wracking up six tackles and an interception on defense in the semifinals.

"I've heard about it my whole life," Tonsfeldt said. "It shows you don't have to be the biggest guy or tallest guy to have success. You can do it all at different sizes."

Tonsfeldt being short is not the only reason Strand chose him to lead his offense, which has rushed for 4,229 yards this season.

"I'm a big basketball fan, so I've watched him for years on the basketball court," Strand said. "He has a quiet demeanor about him. He's a very good tailback and we wanted a tailback at that quarterback spot. Even if he screwed up this year we figured he'd have a few more years to grow into it.

"I think the kid is just a natural leader. I think kids follow him pretty well. And he's extremely intelligent."

Barnesville's Adam Tonsfeldt runs for yardage during the Minnesota Class 2A state quarterfinal football game in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Forum News Service

Things didn't start off so well for Tonsfeldt this season. In the first scrimmage of the season, before he could even get a snap at quarterback, Tonsfeldt tipped a pass against Park Rapids and broke his thumb. He wouldn't play quarterback until Week 6 and the Trojans lost two of his first three games he started, both losses coming by one point.

"When he screws up, he's the first one to admit it," Strand said. "He doesn't blame anyone else. We allow him to change plays at the line and flip stuff based on what he sees. We let him change things up because we think he's smart enough to do it."

Despite not playing offense until the sixth game of the season, Tonsfeldt has rushed for 684 yards and nine touchdowns on 88 carries. He's also thrown for 271 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He's got 18 solo tackles, 33 tackle assists, five tackles for loss, one fumble recovery and seven interceptions on defense as well.

"The defense has a hard time finding that ball and then, boom, he's gone," Strand said. "He's got quick feet. He's been the starting point guard for the last two seasons, so he's used to seeing multiple things in front of him."

Tonsfeldt has been going to Barnesville football games since he was 5 years old. He says he got into football because of the team aspect of it.

"It's not one player or one play that wins or loses a game, it's a team effort," Tonsfeldt said.

When he was told he was going to try quarterback, he went to a quarterback camp in Minnetonka, Minn., to work on throwing, not that Barnesville has done much of that this season. He studied film for seven hours before the semifinals and plans to have 10 hours of film under his belt before taking on a Caledonia team that has won 53 straight games and three straight state titles.

People call Tonsfeldt short. People call Barnesville the underdogs. Tonsfeldt and the Trojans don't care what people call them. Come Friday, they could be called state champions.

"I think we've shown that you can build a program with not the biggest, strongest, fastest players, but with disciplined and smart football," Tonsfeldt said. "We've shown we can play with the biggest teams."