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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Warriors hope extra day of prep pays off

Any week they can have an additional day of preparation, Ron Stolski and the Brainerd Warriors will gladly accept one.

That’s what Brainerd earned during its homecoming week, an extra day of practice instead of a game Friday, before they host the St. Michael-Albertville Knights on Saturday afternoon.

“We like the extra day of practice,” Stolski said. “We’ve been going hard for five games. It gives us a little bit of a chance to hopefully freshen our legs up.”

Homecoming week, Stolski said, is a special time, but it took on added significance when the game was moved to Saturday in 2007.

“It truly is a community event,” he said. “The Saturday daytime game, the whole business of culminating a week of activities with alumni coming back, the alumni hall of famers being inducted Friday night, Saturday with the parade and all of the activities for our community, I think it’s a great community event.

“It’s a wonderful experience. It’s both a challenge and a privilege to kind of end the week of activities.”

The Warriors have rattled four impressive wins since losing their opener, while the Knights attempt to rebound from a disappointing 15-13 loss to Buffalo, which won its first game. StMA stands 3-2, with its season so far bookended by losses. The Knights lost their opener 8-0 to Cambridge-Isanti, before beating Duluth East 43-6, Big Lake 43-13 and Rogers 28-14.

“Rogers has been kind of the class of our conference (Mississippi 8) the last couple years,” Knights coach Jared Essler said. “Our kids were up for that game, and we played really well.

“(Last week) it was homecoming here, and I just felt like we were a little distracted. We were coming off a really big win, and I don’t think we came ready to play. I don’t think we respected our opponent as much as we should have.

“(The game) had all the makings of a letdown. In their four losses (Buffalo was) minus 11-12 in the turnover battle. They cut out the turnovers against us, they kicked a 46-yard field goal, we turned the ball over three times, they played really well, we didn’t.”

Brainerd has played very well the last several games. Last week against Apollo, the Warriors controlled the ball, running 25 more plays from scrimmage. The Warriors threw only nine times as they racked up 354 yards on the ground in 60 carries (5.9-yard average). Quarterback Luke Boran ran for 137 yards, Conor Gessell 120 and Logan Davis 82.

Stolski said the Warriors are “kind of morphing” into a running team and into one that plays staunch defense.

“The last half of our (St. Cloud) Tech game, literally the whole Willmar game, and the Bemidji game, it’s not necessarily by design, it’s just the fact we have a quarterback who can run so well in the option offense that we run. That really helps those hard running backs,” Stolski said.

“The other thing is the maturation of the offensive line,” he added. “With that said, we know we have to open our game up. We have good players at the receiver positions. We go into every game with the intent we’re going to be balanced. It’s just always been part of our philosophy that you go with what’s working.

“Historically, we’ve been a running team, but if you look at us over the last 10 years in our spread offense we generally throw for about 1,000 yards, and we might even be on that pace now.

“Another thing you can’t overlook is our defense. We’re getting more three and outs, so they give us the ball more, we have more opportunities to figure things out offensively. We think even though some points are being scored on our defense, the defense is really coming along.”

Defense is one of the Knights’ strengths. They have surrendered just 56 points (11.2 a game). They are led by linebackers Erik Johnson and Tyler Berg with 38 and 37 tackles, respectively.

“Defense has been our highlight, we’ve been kind of hanging our hat on that,” Essler said. “We do a good job stopping the run, that’s been the best thing we do. Teams we have trouble with have accurate quarterbacks who can throw the ball well.”

The Knights have also been solid on offense, averaging 25.4 points a game. Quarterback Cole Krutzig is a returning starter and a dual threat, passing for 570 yards and six TDs, rushing for 196 yards and a score.

Chris Kartes is the leading rusher with 51 carries for 332 yards and three TDs.

Leading receivers are Brian Ferry (11 catches, 209 yards, 1 TD), Jamey Kolles (11-155-0), and Tony Bork (15-145-3).

Brainerd will be the third outstate team the Knights play this season. Duluth East and Fergus Falls are the others.

“It’s fun to play a big-name opponent,” Essler said. “I remember Brainerd beat Eden Prairie a couple years ago in the state playoffs. That says a lot about Brainerd and the type of program they have.

“We think we’re a pretty good team. We think we’re better than our 3-2 record indicates. We hope to come up there and give the Warriors a battle.”

MIKE BIALKA, sports editor, may be reached at 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at


Brainerd Warriors


QB: 11-Luke Boran, 12-Thomas Stoxen, 15-Logan McElfresh, 37-Luke Patron

RB: 23-Logan Davis, 22-Conor Gessell, 10-Mason Severson, 24-Matt Ramerth, 26-Matt Sucik

WR: 2-Isaiah Smith, 7-Grant Reuer, 18-Geoff Sheflo, 81-Quinn McElfresh

SR: 8-Logan Jones, 31-Cole Smith

TE: 15-Logan McElfresh, 54-Alex Mimmack

C: 64-Billy Desrocher, 57-Zach Shepersky, 50-Wyll Erickson

G: 63-Jon Asprey, 57-Zach Shepersky, 54-Alex Mimmack, 65-Andrew Seglem, 77-Zach Thomas

T: 67-Alex DeRosier, 68/87-Alex Evanson, 75-James Weiss


Line: 55-Jace Engelmann, 88-Chris Bowman, 54-Alex Mimmack, 96-Chris Laber, 94-Austin Mau, 78-Sam Adams, 66-Zach Hatcher

OLB: 36-T.J. Graumann, 33-Jake Donnay, 27-Troy Lenz, 33-Cole DeRosier

ILB: 34/52-Slade Simpson, 53-Sam Kelash, 30-Taylor Scheidenberger, 15-Logan McElfresh, 47-Winston Fenske

CB: 7-Grant Reuer, 12-Thomas Stoxen, 31-Cole Smith, 17-Beau Janousek, 20-Cody Mihok

S: 31-Cole Smith, 16-Trevor Maier


Punter: 15-Logan McElfresh

Kicker: 15-Logan McElfresh

Punt return: 31-Cole Smith, 23-Logan Davis, 2-Isaiah Smith

Kickoff return: 22-Conor Gessell, 23-Logan Davis

Long snap: 33-Jake Donnay, 17-Beau Janousek

Holder: 11-Luke Boran, 12-Thomas Stoxen

St. Michael-Albertville Knights


QB: 16-Cole Krutzig

RB: 28-Chris Kartes

FB: 27-Brendan Poland

T: 59-Sean Scharlau

G: 69-Mikey Kessler

C: 56-Jeff Hackenmueller

G: 58-Cody Fox

T: 77-Matt Krutzig

WR: 14-Jamey Kolles

WR: 12-Tony Bork

WR: 81-Brian Ferry


E: 50-Allen Giller

T: 54-Austin Brouillette

T: 69-Mikey Kessler

E: 46-Bennie Wilson

OLB: 48-Jacob Moran

ILB: 18-Tyler Berg

ILB: 49-Ben Haller

OLB: 7-Erik Johnson

CB: 24-Tyler Berhow

FS: 3-Dallas Freeman

CB: 12-Tony Bork


K: 9-Justin McLain

Holder: 6-Henry Berning

P: 7-Erik Johnson

PR: 3-Dallas Freeman

KR: 28-Chris Kartes, 3-Dallas Freeman, 12-Tony Bork

Warriors schedule

Aug 31, Rocori, LOST 48-28

Sept 7, St. Cloud Tech, WON 42-28

Sept 14, at Willmar, WON 21-14

Sept 21, Bemidji, WON 40-23

Sept 28, at St. Cloud Apollo WON 28-14

Oct 6, St. Michael-Albertville 2 p.m.

Oct 12, at Grand Rapids 7 p.m.

Oct 17, at Alexandria 7 p.m.

Central Lakes Conference

Conf All

Fergus Falls 4-0 4-1

Rocori 4-1 4-1

Brainerd 3-1 4-1

Sartell 2-1 4-1

St. Cloud Tech 2-1 3-2

Willmar 1-3 2-3

Sauk Rapids 1-3 1-4

Alexandria 1-4 1-4

St. Cloud Apollo 0-4 0-5

Sept. 28 Results

Brainerd 28, Apollo 14

Willmar 27, Alexandria 14

Fergus Falls 35, Sartell 28

Moorhead 48, Tech 40

Sept. 29 Result

Sauk Rapids 20, Rocori 12

Friday, Oct. 5

Sartell at Tech

Apollo at Sauk Rapids


Bemidji at Alexandria

Rocori at Big Lake

Grand Rapids at Fergus Falls

Monticello at Willmar

Saturday, Oct. 6

St. Michael-Albertville at Brainerd

Section 5-6A

Section All

Osseo 3-0 5-0

Brainerd 0-0 4-1

Maple Grove 2-1 4-1

Champlin Park 2-0 3-2

Blaine 1-2 3-2

Anoka 0-2 2-3

Centennial 1-2 1-4

Coon Rapids 0-2 0-5

Sept. 28 Results

Osseo 22, Andover 13

Brainerd 28, Apollo 14

Maple Grove 41, Anoka 28

Blaine 56, Coon Rapids 7

Champlin Park 28, Centennial 25

Friday, Oct. 5

Park Center at Osseo

Centennial at Maple Grove

Blaine at Champlin Park

Anoka at Coon Rapids

Saturday, Oct. 6

St. Michael-Albertville at Brainerd

Warriors statistics



Conor Gessell 76 492 6.5 8

Luke Boran 76 395 5.2 5

Logan Davis 81 308 3.8 2

Ma. Severson 4 22 5.5 0

Matt Ramerth 4 18 4.5 0

Thomas Stoxen 3 14 4.7 0

Matt Sucik 1 6 6.0 0


Luke Boran 36 67 502 5

Thomas Stoxen 2 4 25 0

Lo. McElfresh 0 1 0 0


Isaiah Smith 9 157 17.4 2

Cole Smith 12 155 12.9 1

Grant Reuer 7 79 11.3 1

Conor Gessell 2 69 34.5 1

Logan Davis 6 67 11.2 0

Logan Jones 3 32 10.7 0


Conor Gessell 10 2 0 64

Luke Boran 5 0 0 30

Logan Davis 3 0 0 18

Lo. McElfresh 0 0 17 17

Isaiah Smith 2 0 0 12

Grant Reuer 2 0 0 12

Cole Smith 1 0 0 6

Forced fumbles: Slade Simpson 1, Sam Kelash 2, Winston Fenske 2, Reuer 1, Trevor Maier 1, Chris Bowman 1

Fumble recoveries: Kelash 1, Jake Donnay 1, Cole Smith 1, Simpson 1

Interceptions: Reuer 4, Stoxen 1

Season tackle leaders: Cole Smith 70, Fenske 55, T.J. Graumann 54, Simpson 53

Points per-game average: Brainerd 31.8, opposition 25.4

Yards per game average: Brainerd 362.8, opposition 302.4