Try 1 month for 99¢

ORION, Ill. — Following the news that two-way star Logan Lee would miss the rest of the year with an injury, there was certainly disappointment from the Orion Chargers to start the week.

But there wasn't much panic.

The Class 2A second-ranked and undefeated Chargers still feel well-poised to make a deep run in the playoffs, thanks to talent all around the football field.

"Logan's a great player," senior quarterback Dawson Schulenberg said. "He's been great for us his whole life basically, but we know as a team we're going to have to work past it. We're going to have to play without him, that's all there is to it, and other people are going to have to step up and make big plays.

"There's a lot of people out there that think Logan's our only good player. That's not true. Logan is a very good player, and he always has been, but there's more to this team than just Logan."

Schulenberg is leading the way for the Chargers this season and is in the midst of one of the best seasons throwing the ball in the area.

Through seven games, Schulenberg has thrown for more than 1,200 yards and has 22 touchdown passes versus no interceptions.

"We've had a ton of help from our line," Schulenberg said. "They've been blocking really well, and all of our receivers have been doing their jobs really well so it makes my job a lot easier when they're doing what they're supposed to do."

Schulenberg comes from a talented family. His brother Colton threw for 38 touchdowns his senior year in 2011, and his sister Madi was Three Rivers player of the year in volleyball in 2013.

Dawson made strides while sitting behind Craig Matson his first two seasons.

Last year, he threw for more than 1,500 yards and 16 touchdowns to lead the Chargers to the state quarterfinals. This year, he's taken another step.

"Physically, he's so much stronger than what he was a year ago, and mentally, he's taken that next step," head coach Chip Filler said. "We were on the same page last year. By the end of 7-on-7 his junior year, he was finishing my sentences. He knew what I wanted."

That comfort level has helped Schulenberg this season, and it will be relied on to close out the year. In that regard, perhaps it helps that Schulenberg and Lee didn't really start clicking until recently.

In the last three weeks, Lee had 15 catches for 303 yards and six touchdowns, but through the first four weeks, Lee had 11 catches for 139 yards and four touchdowns.

Schulenberg spent that time early forming chemistry with the other weapons on the team, like running back Seth West and receivers Ryan Fowler and Jeffrey Holbrook.

Filler said they expect other players, like tight end Skyler Stropes and receiver Coby Schultz, to now become even bigger parts of the offense.

"We try to spread the ball around as much as we can," Filler said. "We knew Logan was the focal point of our offense, and we tried to get him the ball, but we still try to get everybody the ball because we know it's a long season and you've got to develop people along they way in case something like this does happen.

"We're not reinventing the wheel with any of these people."

That early chemistry will pay off now as Schulenberg looks to continue getting all of his playmakers involved.

"Since he's got so much trust in me and Ryan and Seth, I feel it will be an easier transition moving to throwing us the ball more than he was to Logan since he already has that trust that he established with us the first seven weeks of the season," said Holbrook, who has two touchdown catches this year. "At the beginning of the year (Dawson) was phenomenal, but week by week he's stepped up, he's played a lot better. He's making great passes. He's being smart with the ball."

Schulenberg is closing in on his brother's school record of 51 career passing scores, currently sitting at 43. He isn't paying attention to those numbers.

If he is feeling any pressure to step up down the stretch, he certainly isn't showing it.

"We've just got to keep doing what we're doing," Schulenberg said. "We're doing what we know, and you don't want to get out of your comfort zone with doing what we know."

Most importantly, he has the belief of his teammates.

"He'll step up to the plate. I don't think he's going to have any problems being the guy that everybody's going to lean on," Holbrook said. "I know he's going to play well, he's going to play even better than he did the first seven games and into the future. I think we're going to be able to lean on him, and he's going to step up."


Sports reporter for the Quad-City Times