The competition for a starting spot can be intense for any position in football, especially when that position is quarterback. Throughout spring and fall camp, Will Rauseo ’21 and Lars Prestemon ’22 battled for the spot, but in the end the younger Prestemon was given the starting gig and its accompanying responsibilities. While that decision changed the dynamic between Rauseo and Prestemon, the two players are making the best of the situation and look at this season with a team-first attitude, even as the position they once vied for is assumed by Prestemon.

The difficulties of being thrust into a role of leadership as a sophomore came as no surprise to Prestemon. A successful career at Northfield High School helped build a foundation of confidence and experience that he utilizes as an Ole.

“I was lucky enough to win a lot of high school games, and at the end of the day I’m a winner,” Prestemon said.

Mentors like Ricardo Johnson ’19 also provided beneficial mentorship and confidence to Lars as he prepared for the season.

Johnson told Prestemon he got the position for a reason, and that he should stay confident.

The sophomore views his role as a delegator on the field.

“We have a lot of good playmakers,” Prestemon said. “I don’t always need to be the best player.”

This attitude is part of what made Prestemon a desirable candidate for the first string role. Prestemon and Rauseo are similar players. They are both pass-first quarterbacks with similar body types, but Prestemon’s high school experience, confidence and ability to get the best out of the players on the field helped set him apart from the elder Rauseo.
Despite the preseason competition for the starting spot, the two players now cultivate a supportive relationship, with Rauseo graciously assuming the responsibilities of his role as backup quarterback.

“I just keep pushing myself and pushing Lars too,” Rauseo said. “We push each other to become better.”

Although his role on the field is diminished, Rauseo maintains a position of leadership on the sidelines.

“We’re all learning as a team, so I’m just trying to bring as much leadership from my position as I can,” Rauseo.

Prestemon and Rauseo both have high hopes for this season, and the past two games provide indication that the squad could see a successful year. St. Olaf’s home opener saw a largely one-sided matchup, during which both Prestemon and Rauseo had the opportunity to play with the first-string offense.

“Our mental toughness really showed out,” Rauseo said.

Dominant rushing performances from Khayleb Willis ’20 were the backbone of the Ole’s offensive play, but this week’s 33-20 win against Luther also saw Prestemon throwing for 181 yards and two touchdowns in a performance pointing towards a potentially more dynamic offense.

Looking towards the future, Prestemon has a grounded but optimistic vision for the season.

“I want to compete in every single game,” Prestemon said. “I want to compete with every team until the fourth quarter … I genuinely believe we can beat any team.”

Though lacking in experience on the college stage, Prestemon has a strong foundation and supportive group of peers and coaches who he believes will help him lead the team to a successful season.

rains1@stolaf.edu