FARGO-Fargo Davies football coach Jason Thielges wants everyone to know the Eagles are more than just a quarterback-tight end duo. But it's a pretty good duo.
Tight end Jaden Klabo, a North Dakota State commit, will team up for the final year with quarterback Jesse Forknell, a Minnesota State University-Mankato commit.
"They've grown up together," Thielges said. "I think they have a close bond between them. I think one of the things is if something doesn't go right in practice those guys will stay after and work on it. They are competitors that want to do things right and they make sure they take the time to do it right."
Klabo played in nine games in his junior season, catching 24 passes for 521 yards and six touchdowns. He hit the weight room this offseason and put on 20 pounds, standing at around 6-foot-5 and 215 pounds.
"I think he's gotten better every single year," Thielges said. "He's always been an athletic kid that can catch the ball and do wide-receiver things at tight end. He really committed to the weight room from this year to last year. He got more physical. He's got all the tools. He just needs the size and power to move people for the Bison. If he can do that he's going to play a lot of football."
Forknell played in all 10 games for the Eagles in their 3-7 season last season, throwing for 1,686 yards and 18 touchdowns, along with five interceptions on 161 pass attempts.
"He's 6-4, 200 pounds, so he can see over the line," Thielges said. "He's got the height they look for. His football IQ is probably higher than any kid I've ever coached. He learns and soaks in the knowledge every day. You can see he really likes the process. I think that's something that Mankato caught on with him. He's also probably the most accurate quarterback I've ever had. They got a good player."
For one more year, Davies has the duo, but Thielges is warning opponents now that they're going to get burned if they only focus on Klabo. Junior Ty Satter had 41½ tackles and four interceptions last season at cornerback for the Eagles. He's going to play some wide receiver this season. Senior Brett Vetter will be in the slot this season, after spending most of his time running the ball last season. Junior Isaac Balvitsch has been playing the wing so far in practice.
"I think that makes keying on Jaden tough because guys like Satter can hurt you too," Thielges said. "Vetter can play slot receiver, Balvitsch is a heck of an athlete. I don't think teams can look at us and say, 'If we cover Klabo we got them beat.'"
Both lines will be the question mark for Davies, as they graduated four of five starters on the offensive line.
"We gotta grow and get better," Thielges said. "We have sophomores stepping up to juniors that need to fill those spots. We feel like we can. If we can do that we have some really good skill players to where our offense could be really dynamic."
Aug. 24: vs. Bismarck, 7 p.m.
Aug. 31: at Minot, 8 p.m.
Sept. 7: vs. Fargo North, 7 p.m.
Sept. 14: vs. West Fargo Sheyenne, 7 p.m.
Sept. 21: at Grand Forks Central, 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 28: at Grand Forks Red River, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5: vs. Bismarck Century, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11: vs. Fargo South, 7 p.m.
Oct. 17: at West Fargo, 7 p.m.