Quarterback-receiver duo Quin Ante and Will Bunn turning things around for Roland-Story High School football
Quin Ante and Will Bunn have been receiving a lot of compliments lately.
The senior quarterback and receiver duo has been rewriting the record books at Roland-Story this fall. Their tremendous play in Roland-Story's new pass-happy offense has turned around a struggling program and earned them a lot of well-deserved attention.
“There are a lot of people coming up to me saying good job and that they love watching it,” Ante said. “Everybody loves to watch a pass-heavy team it seems like.”
Matt Finn took over the Roland-Story program last season. The Norsemen were coming off a 1-8 season and there wasn't much enthusiasm around the program.
Last year the Norsemen won Heart of Iowa Conference championships in baseball and basketball, produced a state champion wrestler and placed high in multiple events at state track. With the girls' athletic programs also achieving a lot of athletic success, the football program was feeling left out.
“At Roland-Story we win a lot of things,” Bunn said. “Football, unfortunately, hasn’t been one of those. We’re trying to change that.”
Finn came over to Roland-Story from Osage, where he found success running West Coast-type of offense that gets a lot of players involved through the passing game. The offense is tailor-made to take advantage of the playmaking abilities of someone like Bunn, who won three medals at last year's state track meet.
“I’m confident in our offensive attack,” Finn said. “In 2018 had three receivers with over 800 yards receiving at Osage.”
Unfortunately, Bunn essentially missed his entire junior season after dislocating his elbow in the season opener against South Hamilton.
With current Iowa Hawkeye Zach Twedt also missing most of the season with an injury Roland-Story went winless in 2020 at 0-7.
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But despite the lack of success on the field a promising development took place during the second half of the season. Ante settled in at quarterback.
“Right when I heard about the new offense I was very intrigued,” Ante said. “It’s a lot more confusing than the old offense was, but I think how Coach Finn taught it we were able to learn it pretty quickly.”
There were some growing pains for Ante last year. He did throw 10 interceptions and completed less than half of his passes (41%).
But in the final game of the regular season he showed his potential by throwing for 308 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-40 loss to Clear Lake.
Ante couldn't wait to continue his development as a passer when the season was over.
“Coach Finn gives me a lot of power,” Ante said. “Roland-Story has been known as a running team, but I think his new offense that he brought in gives me a lot more power to do what I need to do.”
With Bunn fully healed the two went right to work building chemistry and improving their game.
“They really got together this summer,” Finn said. “We knew they were going to have a special connection.”
Roland-Story opened the 2021 season with a 48-20 loss to South Hamilton. But the next week Finn earned his first win as coach of the Norsemen with a 26-7 triumph over East Marshall.
Roland-Story, a Class 2A team, was overwhelmed by a Nevada team currently unbeaten and ranked fifth in 3A during Week 3 of the season. But then the Norse reeled off back-to-back victories to start 2A District 7 play.
They overpowered Albia by a 53-27 score and downed Chariton, 26-12.
The Albia game saw Ante and Bunn really grab the spotlight and show how good they have become. Ante threw for 422 yards and five touchdowns and Bunn had 194 receiving yards — all single-game records at Roland-Story.
“It’s not all the time you get to see two seniors break records,” Roland-Story receiver Carter Flattebo said. "It's pretty crazy."
Ante also threw for 336 yards and three touchdowns in a 46-28 loss to Iowa Falls-Alden Oct. 1. He has topped 200 yards in every game this season except for Nevada and Chariton.
Entering Friday's game against Prairie City-Monroe Ante has completed 111 of 191 passes (58%) for 1,820 yards and 18 touchdowns with 10 interceptions.
His 111 completions and 1,823 yards blow away the old Roland-Story single-season marks of 66 and 1,106, both set by Brett Staton in 2016. The 18 touchdown passes are three more than the old Norsemen record of 15 set by Kyle Nordeen back in 1999.
“He’s like having another coach on the field,” Finn said. “He’s really come along. It’s pretty special for a kid to play half a season then start shattering records.”
Bunn has at least 100 yards receiving in five games, including 114 in last Friday's 50-21 loss to No. 2 West Marshall. For the season he has 33 catches for 803 yards — averaging an amazing 24.3 yards per reception — and seven touchdowns.
Bunn became Roland-Story's single-season leader in both receptions and receiving yards against West Marshall. Justin Lutjen previously held both marks after making 32 catches for 792 yards in 1999.
“A lot of what Will has done is make stuff happen after he’s caught the ball,” Finn said. “There were plenty of times where I just called hitches and he did the rest. He makes me look pretty good and Quin look pretty good too. It’s fun to watch and fun to coach.”
But as proud as they are of the records, that's not what Ante and Bunn are playing for in their final season donning a Norsemen uniform. They helped Roland-Story secure a playoff spot.
This year in classes 2A, 1A and A the top four teams in each district automatically qualify for the playoffs. Win or lose against PCM, Roland-Story is guaranteed to finish no lower than fourth in 2A District 7.
“We’re in,” Finn said. “We’ll see if we can improve our stock and then what we can do in the playoffs.”
Roland-Story has laid down the first brick in rebuilding the program this season. Bunn said he can't wait to see where it goes from here.
“I know the classes behind us are going to continue to carry it,” Bunn said. “I’d love for them to break my records. It’s going to be really special here.”