For the second straight season, Zach Fuller has emerged from a quarterback battle with Luke Bleyer as the starter for the Augustana Vikings.

On Thursday, Augie coach Steve Bell handed the reigns to Fuller ahead of next Saturday's season opener at SUNY-Cortland.

"The way Zach has been able to grasp it and move forward day-to-day, week-to-week … To this point, he's processing information really well right now," Bell said.

Fuller also won the starting spot last fall over Bleyer as the two battled as sophomores. However, with the Vikings sitting at 2-4, Bleyer took over as the starter and finished out the 3-7 season.

Last year, Fuller completed 121 of 242 passes for 1,520 yards with 10 touchdowns and five interceptions and finished with a 112.6 passer rating. Bleyer completed 90 of 154 attempts for 1,035 yards with four TDs and four picks and a 120.6 passer rating.

Not much separated the two — who both came back to camp this fall in great shape, bulked up and ready to lead.

"Selfishly, that's a good thing for us," Bell said, noting he isn't planning on being quick with a hook and look to make a change at that position this year.

In Wednesday's scrimmage vs. Aurora, both performed well and took turns moving the team. There wasn't much difference in production with either.

"He had a tremendous camp and has just looked very confident back there," Bell said of Fuller. "It's not just a one scrimmage thing, at all. You take the whole pie, not just a piece of the pie, and evaluate both of those guys off that from Day 1 to now. As a staff, making that decision, as a head coach, we feel as if that's the best situation for us to move forward. … Both of them are good. The differences are minute.

"Both are exceptionally talented and they both do what we need them to do, which is be accurate and make quick decisions. Zach is in a different place right now, in my opinion, which bodes well for us."

There are two other things this year that favor Fuller. The Vikings have a much stronger rebuilt offensive line and more options at running back with Geneseo junior Ryan Pitra, sophomores Bobby Jarosz and Antonio Cannon and senior Austin Chausse.

Bell was also confident that Bleyer would continue to be productive and be ready should he be needed.

"With any competitor, there's going to be disappointment," Bell said. "Everybody wants to play and be that guy. The one good thing about it is I know Luke will first of all be a great teammate, but he will always go about his business in the right way. There won't be a change in the way that he comes to practice and competes in drills. There won't be a change in him and I credit him personally with having that type of attitude."

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