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Jamestown's Tommy Falk primed to start at quarterback for Dragons

Minnesota State Moorhead freshman Tommy Falk is projected to be the starting quarterback for the Dragons, who start the regular season Sept. 2 at Southwest Minnesota State.

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Minnesota State Moorhead quarterback Tommy Falk takes aim during Dragons football practice on Thursday, August 19, 2021. David Samson / The Forum
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MOORHEAD — Tommy Falk was projected to be the starting quarterback as a true freshman for Minnesota State Moorhead last fall had the Dragons not had their football season canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

While not being able to play last season stung, Falk said there were some positives in giving him more time to adjust to the college game.

“It let me slow things down and get taught things at a slower pace and really get to hone in on all the little things you might have maybe missed or skipped through trying to get caught up for a season,” said Falk, who was a three-year starter at Jamestown (N.D.) High School.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Falk is again atop the QB depth chart with the Dragons preparing for their season opener, which is at 7 p.m. Sept. 2 at Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference foe Southwest Minnesota State.

“I think he’s done a phenomenal job, learning the offense, grasping the offense,” Dragons head coach Steve Laqua said of Falk, a second-year freshman. “This fall in particular he’s done a much better job of really taking the horns of the bull per se and leading. This year, I really feel he’s grabbed a hold of that.”

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Minnesota State Moorhead quarterback Tommy Falk throws a pass during Dragons football practice on Thursday, August 19, 2021. David Samson / The Forum

The Dragons last played a game Nov. 16, 2019, and scored a 24-13 victory against St. Cloud State to complete a 6-5 season. Falk said he’s grateful to be again preparing for games after losing the 2020 season.

“You appreciate it a lot more and realize how fragile it can be and how lucky we are to get this opportunity,” Falk said. “In a lot of ways, it brought us as a team closer. We did it together and did it on the fly.”

The Dragons closest assimilation to game action a season ago was two scrimmages against the University of Mary and the University of Sioux Falls during the spring. Laqua said those scrimmages were important for Falk’s development.

“I think our two scrimmages in the spring were critical for him,” Laqua said. “He handled that situation well. … This fall he’s handled it like a veteran. Until the lights are on and game day is shining bright, we’re not going to know for sure, but everything that we’ve seen shows that he can handle it.”

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Minnesota State Moorhead head coach Steve Laqua gives direction during Dragons football practice on Thursday, August 19, 2021. David Samson / The Forum

Laqua said there are four players in the mix for the No. 2 spot on the QB depth chart behind Falk, including sophomore Max Carter, senior Justin Czech, and freshmen Garret Meehl and Jersey Selzler. Laqua said he would prefer to redshirt Selzler this season.

Dragons wide receiver Grady Bresnahan is a super senior, taking advantage of an NCAA eligibility waiver due to COVID to return. Sophomore receiver Ryan Bieberdorf and junior receiver Trent Marquart are also key pass catchers for MSUM.

“You can see that we have an older group of receivers and playmakers there,” Falk said. “It makes life easy for me. I can get the ball to them and let them do their thing.”

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Minnesota State Moorhead receiver Grady Bresnahan turns upfield after grabbing a reception during Dragons football practice on Thursday, August 19, 2021. David Samson / The Forum

Dragons safety Shad Vedaa, another super senior, said he likes the strides Falk has made since last fall.

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“Tommy has grown a lot,” said Vedaa, from Velva, N.D. “He steps into that leadership role that a quarterback has. It’s great to see Tommy step into that quarterback leadership role.”

Laqua said sophomore Zane Miller and freshman Luke Imdieke are the team’s top two running backs to this point of fall camp. The Dragons have nearly 110 players on the roster and more than half of them have yet to play a college snap due to last season being canceled.

“I think the challenge is blending so much experience with so much youth,” Laqua said. “There becomes this big gap between experience and no experience.”

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Minnesota State Moorhead receiver Ryan Bieberdorf leaps to haul in a pass during Dragons football practice on Thursday, August 19, 2021. David Samson / The Forum

The Dragons have seven super seniors on defense, including Vedaa, defensive linemen Darius Woods-Steichen and Jordan Magnuson and linebacker Matt Schoh. Laqua said the defense is especially deep along the defensive line and at cornerback. He added Falk’s strengths complement the Dragons defense.

“Tommy’s strength is throwing the football and he’s done a great job of taking care of it,” Laqua said. “If we’re not turning the ball over, we’re going to have a shot to win every single week. He’s really savvy in the pocket.”

Falk was a two-time, all-state selection for the Blue Jays and passed for 3,800 yards and 34 touchdowns during his high school career.

The Dragons home opener is slated for Sept. 11 against Winona State at Scheels Field at Alex Nemzek Stadium. MSUM is scheduled to play 11 games this season, all against NSIC opponents.

“It seems like forever since you’ve been in a fully competitive environment,” Falk said. “That game-day feeling, it’s tough to replicate. We got a little taste. We’re extremely excited to get that opportunity. … The biggest thing with this team is the culture and the guys we have in the building. We’ve got a lot of guys who are excited and hungry.”

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Minnesota State Moorhead defensive lineman Jordan Magnuson readies to drill during Dragons football practice on Thursday, August 19, 2021. David Samson / The Forum

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Minnesota State Moorhead receivers Ryan Bieberdorf and Grady Bresnahan take a break during Dragons football practice on Thursday, August 19, 2021. David Samson / The Forum

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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