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BHS loss shouldn't overshadow another successful season

ST. CLOUD — One game should not a season make.

The Brainerd Warriors won their last regular-season game to finish 5-3 and won two playoff games handily. They stormed into Saturday’s Section 8-5A championship game with momentum but five turnovers and six penalties led to a 24-20 loss to the Moorhead Spuds.

“I’m proud of the kids,” Warriors coach Ron Stolski said. “You can’t ever let a game define you, but in a way this does because we’re such fighters. When we did lose it was kind of odd stuff. We never caught one of those breaks today, we got one fumble, but that’s the way it is.”

Warriors quarterback Mitch McLain threw for 111 yards and two scores. As one of four captains he gained his composure to talk about the season and his teammates.

“I’m just proud of these guys,” he said. “A few things happened today that we may have been able to control but they happened and we were still in the game and we battled. Everyone on this team loves to battle. They love to do it for each other. I think that’s why this season we got our goal of becoming a family.”

Finishing with a flurry

Brainerd running back Nick Welch gained 152 yards Saturday to finish the season with 1,152.

In the final four games Welch rushed for 628 yards and six touchdowns. He had six 100-yard games for the season.

Learning the 3-5 defense

Spuds coach Kevin Feeney was head coach at Fargo South before he became Moorhead’s coach in 2010. Several years ago Feeney and a few members of his defensive staff visited Brainerd to learn the 3-5 defense the Warriors were running.

“A lot of our concepts are the same as them,” Feeney said. “(Brainerd) has been so good on defense for so long we’re trying to emulate them. Our defensive team, and I say team because our defensive backs played well, our linebackers showed up and our defensive line’s been playing as well as they have all season in the last 2-4 weeks.”

First title in eight years

Moorhead’s section title was its first since 2003.

“We felt like we had a team that could compete for a section championship,” Feeney said. “But the road here has not gone nearly as planned. I told the kids I’m so proud of them believing in each other. We had many times throughout the season when we had opportunities to throw in the towel. We kept losing close football games.

“Our staff just kept preaching to the kids that we’re getting better. We’ve just got to get rid of that 2-3 minutes of bad football we were playing, and it paid off in a game like today.”

Quick rebuilding job

In only his second season at Moorhead, Feeney has the Spuds playing in the state tournament Saturday night at St. Cloud State against unbeaten, top-ranked and defending Class 5A champion Wayzata.

“The kids have worked their tails off,” he said. “We’ve tried hard to get our strength program caught up.

“It’s a total staff, players and community, just like Brainerd. We think our community is a lot like Brainerd. The support we get is outstanding. Our community wants to see our kids do well and they have given us the resources to do well.”

Mike Bialka, sports editor, may be reached at or at 855-5861.