HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: For Warriors, ‘D’ is for domination
It may have been the most dominant defensive effort by the Brainerd Warriors since 1995.
That year, in a 7-6 homecoming loss to St. Cloud Tech at Adamson Field, the Warriors didn’t surrender a first down or a single passing yard and limited the Tigers to 32 total yards.
In Saturday’s 30-0 homecoming victory over winless St. Cloud Apollo, the Warriors allowed just eight yards rushing, 44 total yards, and didn’t allow the Eagles to cross midfield.
Apollo made one first down on its initial possession, then didn’t make another until 4:03 remained. The Eagles finished with three first downs.
Brainerd registered 14 tackles for loss and three sacks, by linebackers Rob Wanous and Sam Kelash and Dylon Tollefson. Kelash added a fumble recovery.
“I think we played a really good run game,” Wanous said. “We were coming in not thinking they were going to pass much. So I think our defensive line stepped up for us, then our linebackers filled right behind them.”
This win might have been as unconventional as that homecoming loss to Tech. Saturday, the Warriors recorded three safeties, scored three touchdowns and kicked a field goal.
“It was an unusual kind of game,” Warriors coach Ron Stolski said. “You never know for sure what you’re going to get at the end of a homecoming week. It was a little muggy out and Apollo, you need to give credit to them, they played to the end. They were pretty physical, especially on defense.
“Again, I think our defense, obviously, set the whole tempo of the game. When we didn’t get the safeties we had great field position.
“It was a solid, solid homecoming win, and it’s the end of a long week of activities, so we’ll take it.”
Brainerd improved to 4-2 overall by gaining 356 yards and dominating the line of scrimmage, running 73 plays to Apollo’s 35.
After a scoreless first quarter, Warriors quarterback Mitch McLain scored touchdowns on 8- and 4-yard runs on consecutive possessions.
“That was our offense today,” McLain said. “We didn’t really have a lot of big plays but we did grind. When we grind and we get after it we can really hit someone in the mouth.”
Apollo punter Corey Geers stepped out of the back of the end zone for the first safety. Sacks by Wanous and Kelash on consecutive plays pinned the Eagles at their 1-yard line.
Andrew Olson kicked a 26-yard field goal on Brainerd’s next possession to give the Warriors a 19-0 lead at halftime.
The second safety was recorded in the third quarter when Apollo quarterback Cooper Lynch was called for intentionally grounding while throwing from the end zone.
Nick Welch ran eight yards for a score on Brainerd’s next possession and a 28-0 lead.
The Warriors closed the scoring with another safety when Lynch was tackled in the end zone by Kelash and Dain Barrett with 9:10 left.
It was Brainerd’s final home game of the season. The Warriors play Friday at Moorhead and Oct. 10 at Sauk Rapids.
“We’ve got two tough games left in about 10 days,” Stolski said. “We’ll rest now but we have to bring our game, like always.”
St. Cloud Apollo 0 0 0 0 — 0
Brainerd 0 19 9 2 — 30
Brd-Mitch McLain 8 run (Andrew Olson kick) 7:15
Brd-McLain 4 run (A. Olson kick) 2:29
Brd-Safety, punter steps out of end zone 1:24
Brd-A. Olson 26 FG :09
Brd-Safety, quarterback called for intentional grounding from end zone 6:05
Brd-Nick Welch 8 run (A. Olson kick) 1:51
Brd-Safety, quarterback tackled in end zone 9:10
First downs: Brd 22, SCA 3
Rushes-yards: Brd 54-246, SCA 28-8
Pass comp-att-int-yds: Brd 10-19-0-110, SCA 2-7-0-36
Total offense: Brd 356, SCA 44
Punts-avg: Brd 2-46.5, SCA 5-26.2
Return yards: Brd 43, SCA 54
Fumbles-lost: Brd 1-1, SCA 2-1
Penalties-yds lost: Brd 7-45, SCA 5-30
Rushing: Brd, McLain 14-54, Welch 8-45, Logan Davis 10-43, Conor Gessell 9-53, Luke Boran 3-23, Tyler Fitch 4-6, Jackson Dols 5-27, Team 1-(-5); SCA, Nam Nguyen 16-22
Passing: Brd, McLain 10-18-0-110, Jimmy Giese 0-1-0-0; SCA, Cooper Lynch 2-7-0-36
Receiving: Brd, Giese 2-43, Riley Kline 2-24, Logan Davis 1-3, Dustin Borlaug 1-5, Welch 1-8, Tom Olson 1-9, Gessell 1-11, Chris Bowman 1-7; SCA, Nguyen 1-25, Michael Pham 1-11
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.