WARRIORS ATHLETE OF WEEK: Boran comes through in clutch in Brainerd win
John Elway engineered what became known as “The Drive” during the 1987 AFC Championship Game between the Denver Broncos and Cleveland Browns.
In the final 5:02, Elway led the Broncos 98 yards to tie the game with 37 seconds left and Denver eventually won in overtime.
Brainerd quarterback Luke Boran may never forget the Warriors’ final drive at Willmar last week. Brainerd just needed a drive that would prevent Willmar from tying the game and sending it into overtime.
After scoring 14 straight points, Willmar had seized momentum. In the final 3:50, Boran engineered an 8-play drive, running 12, 25 and 14 yards for first downs that drained the clock, giving Brainerd a 20-14 win.
“Our thinking was we’ve got to get a first down, then get another and keep everything going the whole drive,” Boran said. “It worked out and we got a few yards. The offensive line blocked well and we pulled it out.”
In his first year as a starter, the senior has helped Brainerd to two wins with his legs, arm and leadership. The tri-captain has completed 27 of 47 passes (57.5 percent) for 327 yards and three TDs. He has rushed 42 times for 195 yards and three more scores.
Against Willmar, he rushed for 112 yards and a TD and passed for 83 more.
Boran has capitalized on his opportunity to be a starter. Last year he played sparingly behind the now graduated Mitch McLain.
“I played mostly defense and some wide receiver, and at the end of games I played quarterback,” Boran said. “This year I suppose it’s my turn. I’ve kind of been waiting for it for a while. I want to take full advantage of this opportunity and do my best. Good things will happen if I keep working hard.”
Last season, Boran rushed just 11 times and attempted only one pass.
“A couple of years ago he was a little concerned that maybe he wasn’t a quarterback,” Warriors head coach Ron Stolski said. “I went to see him and said, ‘Listen to me. You’re a quarterback.
“He’s an excellent leader. One of the reasons we huddle is I want the team to see the fire in the quarterback’s eyes, and we’ve certainly seen that in Luke’s eyes the first three games.
“These first three games really are his first extended time as a varsity quarterback. Any team, at any level, needs a leader at quarterback. Quarterback is arguably one of the most difficult and challenging positions to play in any sport.”
This season, the 170-pound Boran has scored on runs of 2, 20 and 47 yards, averaging 4.6 per attempt.
“I’m pretty thin so I’ve always worked on running through tackles and moving around tackles so they’re not getting good shots on me. They have to take angles,” Boran said.
He’s the latest in a line of Warrior quarterbacks able to run the option proficiently.
“We like our quarterbacks to be able to run and make decisions,” Stolski said. “We want a very tough kid at quarterback, physically, but more important mentally. I think that’s especially true in today’s game because the quarterback has to make a lot of decisions. Literally, on every play, he’s making decisions after he receives the snap. It’s not just one, it’s many. He’s done a great job of that.”
Boran has thrown touchdown passes of 25, 32 and 35 yards. He attended two passing camps in the offseason and it shows.
“This summer, I worked on (passing) pretty hard because I knew we were going to have the wide receivers to have a good passing game,” Boran said. “I went to a couple camps, worked on my throwing motion and getting my consistency down. I think (the camps) really helped.”
Other notable efforts:
• Taylor Johnshoy, volleyball, had 19 digs, 16 kills, 2 blocks and 2 ace serves and made the all-tournament team at Farmington.
• Emily Beltran, soccer, had a hat trick against Fergus Falls.
• Fallon Ryan, swimming, won two events and was on two first-place relays against Rocori. She won two events and was on the winning 400 free relay at the Park Rapids Invite where she set meet and pool records in the 500 free. She also won two events against Sartell.
• Reilly Peterson, swimming, won two events and was on two first-place relays against Rocori.
Mike Bialka, sports editor, may be reached at 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark.