Football: Warriors moving forward after state runner-up finish
Winning the first Central Lakes Conference North Division championship.
Recording the fifth unbeaten regular season in program history.
Winning the Section 7-5A title.
Setting a program record for wins (12).
Playing for the state championship for the first time in program history.
Finishing as the Class 5A runner-up after losing to Owatonna 24-0 for the state title in the final high school football game at the Metrodome.
Those were among the achievements in a magical 2013 season for the Brainerd Warriors, who open the 2014 campaign on the new artificial surface at Adamson Field at 7 p.m. Friday against Fergus Falls.
Last year is last year as far as Warriors coach Ron Stolski is concerned.
- Head coach: Ron Stolski, 53rd season (40th at Brainerd, 4 at Park Center, 6 at Princeton, 1 at Slayton, 2 at Kensington).
- Career record: 355-156-5 (.695)
- Brainerd record: 283-121 (.700)
- 2013 finish: 8-0 CLC North Division champion, 12-1 overall, Section 7-5A champion, Class 5A runner-up
- Returning starters: Quinn McElfresh (WR), Cole Spieker (WR), Hayden Bukowski (S), Jaquon Cogshell (CB), Taylor Streiff (ILB), Cole Sellnow (OLB), Anthony Cory (ILB), Ted Nelson (DL), Cole DeRosier (OLB)
- Captains: Anthony Cory, Quinn McElfresh, Taylor Streiff, Paul Augustinack, Hayden Bukowski
- Assistant coaches: Chet Stevenson, Scott Parsons, Jeff Ramey, Aron Anderson, Troy Nelson, Deryl Ramey, Jason Freed, Mike Langer, Joe Pohlkamp, Wade Haapajoki.
- Volunteer assistants: Mike Huesmann, John Stumpf, Michael Zauhar, Chuck Rodgers
"Each team develops its own personality even though the precepts of the Warrior Way are solid," Stolski said before his 53rd season as a head coach. "The foundation is it - become a family, do the best you can, enjoy the experience. That's us since 1975. It's fun to watch each group of kids make it their team. They're Warriors forever, but it's their team now.
"Another aspect of our teams is like the quote from coach Jeff Williams of Owatonna (after the state championship): "Brainerd does not beat itself.' That's been something we try to teach our kids - eliminate to the extent you can those things that beat you - penalties and turnovers.
"One reason I've always enjoyed coaching football so much is you can find a role for a boy who comes with his heart in his hands."
The 2013 Warriors returned 14 starters. This season they return nine full- or part-time starters - two on offense, seven on defense.
Back on offense are wide receivers Quinn McElfresh and Cole Spieker. McElfresh, a full-time starter, caught 10 passes last fall for 203 yards and a touchdown. Spieker, a part-time starter, caught one pass for 14 yards.
"I think our strength offensively is we have some very good athletes in skill positions, wide receivers especially and quarterbacks," Stolski said.
"We'll see how it all plays itself out. We can be a 1-back team, maybe a 2-back, we can be multiple wide receivers. Our backs catch the ball pretty well.
"We like the offense we have. We just have to get some game seasoning. There's absolutely no substitute for game experience."
Defensively, the Warriors return safety Hayden Bukowski, cornerback Jaquon Cogshell, linebackers Taylor Streiff, Cole Sellnow, Anthony Cory and Cole DeRosier and lineman Ted Nelson. In 2013, Cory started at guard. DeRosier and Nelson were part-time starters.
Cogshell grabbed three interceptions and Bukowski and Streiff each had one.
"We've felt that, particularly early on, our strength would be defensively," Stolski said. "Not only are these returning starters, they're good football players.
"Our defense will be relatively small again, in terms of being not very heavy, but we will have very good team speed and quickness. When you bring roughly four linebackers back who played in a 13-game season, that's experience you can rely on. That's valuable game experience coming back to the ballclub."
A position-by-position look at the 2014 Warriors:
Nelson is the only returning player who started some. Seniors Matt Thompson, Nick Stettler and Jared Winters are competing for spots along with juniors Josh Howieson, Zach Stangl and Dylan Crandall.
Sellnow and DeRosier head the position. Senior Mike Eschenbacher and juniors C.J. Wohl and Kolt Herron are in the running.
Streiff heads the corps, joined by Cory. Senior Jordan Jarmuzak and juniors Aaron Martin and Tristan Brecht round out the position.
Cogshell is joined by senior Isaiah Stewart and juniors Matt Hill, Cole Harmer and Nick Peterson.
Seniors Will Stolski and Adam Fischer and Hill join Bukowski at the position.
Evan Brecht played in two games last season, completing one of two passes and rushed six times for 71 yards and a score.
Juniors competing to be the signal-caller include Hanson Devine, Chris Pederson and Howieson.
"I think it would be accurate to say you might see the ball in the air more just because of the nature of the skill more than say a year ago," Stolski said.
Senior candidates are Paul Augustinack, Cooper Tollefson, Chris Veith, Zach Winger and Tim O'Reilly. Juniors are Allen Jevning, Mitch Rahn and Colton Borg.
Augustinack played quarterback last season, completing his only pass, and rushed four times for 21 yards and a TD. Winger carried three times, Tollefson twice and Veith once.
If the Warriors play a tight end, they may line up Ted Nelson and Howieson there.
Steven Severson is the other senior, along with McElfresh and Spieker. Juniors in the running for playing time are Pederson, Jordan Whitehead, Brady Kline, Devon Fiedler and Riley Fabian.
Seniors are Eric Uphoff, Michael Horton and Kyler Kennedy with sophomore Ryan Powers.
Horton is joined by juniors Clayton Caird and Zach Rude and sophomore Seth Desrocher.
Senior Jon Bostrom and Caird are vying to start.
Candidates are Pederson and Hill.
Stewart and junior David Saxum are competing to be the starter.
Evan Brecht returns to hold for field goals and extra points.
Pederson, Jevning, Chris Veith, Cogshell, McElfresh and Spieker are in the running to return kicks.
"In addition to having strong units offensively and defensively, you have to have strong special teams," Stolski said. "We really emphasize special teams. Thinking back to our past, we've had good kickoff teams, good punting teams .. all those things add up to trying to put a good football team on the field."
2-Chris Pederson QB/WR Jr
2-Jacob Berg QB soph
5-Steven Severson WR Sr
5-Joe Christianson QB soph
7-Jaquon Cogshell DB Sr
8-Cole Spieker WR Sr
10-Hanson Devine QB Jr
10-Luke Wiskow RB/DB soph
11-Adam Fischer DB Sr
12-Cole Sellnow LB Sr
14-Isiah Stewart CB Sr
14-Tyler Stephanie RB soph
15-Paul Augustinack RB Sr
16-Evan Brecht QB Sr
17-Cade Pikula WR soph
18-Colton Borg RB Jr
20-Chris Veith RB Sr
20-Tanner Clink WR soph
21-Allen Jevning RB Jr
22-Cooper Tollefson RB Sr
23-Cole Harmer DB Jr
23-Sidy Faye WR soph
24-Nick Peterson DB Jr
25-Tim O'Reilly RB Sr
26-Matt O'Reilly DB Jr
26-Corbin Pikula RB soph
27-Matt Hill DB Jr
28-Ryan Miller WR soph
28-Will Peabody QB soph
30-Kolton Herron LB Jr
31-Caleb Meyer DB Jr
32-Will Stolski DB Sr
33-Zach Winger RB Sr
33-Cody Christiansen DB soph
34-Arron Martin LB Jr
35-Cole DeRosier LB Sr
36-C.J. Wohl LB Jr
37-Luke Wiskow RB soph
38-Magnus Holt Hagen LB Sr
40-Mitch Rahn RB Jr
41-Taylor Streiff LB Sr
42-Anthony Cory LB Sr
42-Evan Schreifels LB soph
43-Hayden Bukowski DB Sr
44-Robert Young DB Jr
45-Josh Bock LB Jr
45-Travis Hensley LB soph
46-Kesmond Willert RB soph
47-Tayler Borders DL Jr
48-Mike Eschenbacher LB Sr
50-Josh Rushmeyer LB soph
51-Seth Desrocher OL soph
51-Trenton Rushmeyer DL soph
52-Sean Laughton OL Jr
52-Brian Barajas DL soph
53-Jordan Jarmuzak LB Sr
54-Dylan Crandall DL Jr
54-Will Schneider OL soph
55-Tristan Brecht LB Jr
56-Matt Thompson DL Sr
56-Thomas Sullivan OL soph
57-Zach Stangl DL Jr
58-Jared Winter DL Sr
58-Jared Lane LB soph
60-Michael Horton OL Sr
61-Clayton Caird OL Jr
62-Jon Bostrom OL Sr
63-Kyler Kennedy OL Sr
63-Sam Olson OL soph
64-Randall Clark DL Sr
66-Branden Tandeski LB soph
71-Ryan Powers OL soph
71-Justin Banks OL soph
72-Tate Arntson DL soph
73-Eric Uphoff OL Sr
73-Connor Marichalar OL soph
75-Zach Vogt OL Jr
76-Zach Rude OL Jr
77-Mikale Thompson DL Sr
78-Caleb Cherne DL Jr
80-Daunte Carner DL soph
81-Quinn McElfresh WR Sr
82-Riley Fabian WR Jr
82-Dawson Kintop WR soph
84-Jordan Whitehead WR Jr
85-Brady Kline WR Jr
85-Sam Nesheim TE soph
88-Devan Fiedler WR Jr
89-David Saxum K Jr
90-Ted Nelson DL Sr
91-Garett Lee DL Jr
92-Greg Rider DL soph
93-Devan Liebeg LB soph
94-Kyler Yerks DL Jr
95-Josh Howieson DL/QB Jr
96-Nick Stettler DL Sr
97-Mike Bieganek OL soph
99-Bruno Bernatsky DL Jr
Aug 29, Fergus Falls 7 p.m.
Sept. 5, Willmar 7 p.m. (BYAA Night)
Sept. 12, at Alexandria 7 p.m.
Sept. 19, at St. Cloud Apollo 7 p.m.
Sept. 27, St. Cloud Tech 2 p.m. (homecoming)
Oct. 3, at Bemidji 7 p.m.
Oct. 10, Moorhead 7 p.m.
Oct. 15, at Grand Rapids 7 p.m.