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HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL: Warriors head to Grand Rapids to play Thunderhawks

In a span of six days, the Brainerd Warriors will play two games and their regular season will be over.

The postseason is rapidly approaching as the 4-2 Warriors prepare to travel to Grand Rapids to take on the winless Thunderhawks Friday night.

After Friday’s game, Brainerd ends the regular season Wednesday at Alexandria and the Section 5-6A playoffs begin Oct. 26.

“It’s the old story that the season ends abruptly, and then section seeding will occur,” said Warriors coach Ron Stolski, who coached the 500th game of his career in last week’s 31-20 homecoming loss to St. Michael-Albertville. “But our entire focus needs to be on this game because the last game we had six turnovers. That was more than we had the entire season. Obviously, you can’t do that again.

“We’ve been a good team at protecting the ball. There were just things that happened that gave the other guy short fields on almost every possession.”

While the Warriors will attempt to bounce back, Rapids is seeking its first win. The Thunderhawks have struggled to score, getting outscored 64-14 in the first three quarters, 129-63 in the fourth, for a total of 193-77.

The Thunderhawks lost to Duluth East 27-7, Moorhead 41-21, St. Cloud Tech 47-35, Sartell 27-8, Bemidji 37-0 and Fergus Falls 14-6.

“Actually, we’ve played everyone pretty tough for the most part,” Rapids head coach Tim Botsford said. “We’ve got a lot of guys playing both ways, and they get worn down a little bit.”

Rapids does have weapons. One is quarterback Jackson Gessell, a first cousin to Brainerd running back Conor Gessell. He has thrown for 1,022 yards and eight touchdowns but has been picked off 10 times.

Jamison Evans leads the ground game with 252 yards and a score. Austin Wiberg leads the recievers with 359 yards, Joe Harris has 249, Stephen McGee Jr. 175 and Matt Wunderlich 135.

“We throw the ball about half the time, we wing it around,” Botsford said. “Austin’s been our best receiver — this year and last year. He’s made a number of big catches. ... He’s a pretty good No. 1 receiver, he’s our primary guy, but there are other receivers.”

The Warriors lost three fumbles and were intercepted three times by StMA but won’t make any significant changes in their approach.

“One of the things we’ve always tried to do here is play to our standard, then play our game,” Stolski said. “That’s something I learned years and years ago. You can’t get all wound up about the other guy to the extent that you change your game.

“Looking back at our history — playing Wayzata — we don’t change our game. You’ve got to play your game. That’s really been an emphasis this week. We’re going to practice our game, make the other team defend what we’re trying to do, make the other other team have to adjust their game to how we play.

“You hope at this stage of the season you’ve improved to the point where you play your game pretty well.”

Stolski said the Warriors will be without running back Logan Davis, who suffered a toe injury last weekend. Davis has gained 346 yards and scored four TDs.

“Some of our kids will have to step up because there will be new and additional roles,” Stolski said.

Stolski would like see the Warriors’ attack become better balanced. Brainerd has rushed for almost 2,100 yards while passing for 632.

“One piece of our game that’s been disappointing is we haven’t achieved the kind of offensive balance that we like to achieve, in terms of a good solid run game, and a good solid pass game,” he said. “We’re still a winning football team. You go with what’s successful for you.

“In games, you end up finding what you do that the other guy can’t defend very well and you just do that.”

Mike Bialka, sports editor, may be reached at 855-5861. Follow on Twitter at


Brainerd Warriors


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

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

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

SR: 31-Cole Smith, 8-Logan Jones

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, 33-Cole DeRosier, 27-Troy Lenz

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

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

S: 31-Cole Smith, 16-Trevor Maier


Punter: 15-Logan McElfresh

Kicker: 15-Logan McElfresh

Punt return: 31-Cole Smith, 2-Isaiah Smith

Kickoff return: 31-Cole Smith, 7-Grant Reuer

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

Holder: 11-Luke Boran, 12-Thomas Stoxen

Grand Rapids



QB: 15-Jackson Gessell

RB: 2-Austin Wiberg

RB: 35-Jamison Evans

WR: 12-Stephen McGee Jr.

WR: 22-Joe Harris

TE: 40-Matt Wunderlich

C: 74-Justin McKay

G: 63-Cody Hall

G: 64-Foster Thompson

T: 66-Wesley Mann

T: 78-Brady Thomsen


NG: 47-Zack Vaneps

E: 66-Wesley Mann

E: 63-Cody Hall

E: 78-Brady Thomsen

OLB: 1-Andrew Carlisle

OLB: 34-Andy Soderberg

ILB: 7-Will Rusch

ILB: 35-Jamison Evans

CB: 12-Stephen McGee Jr.

CB: 22-Joe Harris

CB: 2-Austin Wiberg

S: 15-Jackson Gessell

S: 29-Blake Hopewell


KO: 40-Matt Wunderlich or Matt Huebscher

P: 40-Matt Wunderlich

PK: Brady Thomsen

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 Lost 31-20

Oct 12, at Grand Rapids 7 p.m.

Oct 17, at Alexandria 7 p.m.

Central Lakes


Conf All

Fergus Falls 4-0 5-1

Rocori 4-1 4-2

Brainerd 3-1 4-2

Sartell 3-1 5-1

St. Cloud Tech 2-2 3-3

Willmar 1-3 2-4

Alexandria 1-4 1-5

St. Cloud Apollo 1-4 1-5

Sauk Rapids 1-4 1-5

Oct. 5 Results

Sartell 21, Tech 20

Apollo 9, Sauk Rapids 6


Bemidji 38, Alexandria 23

Big Lake 12, Rocori 0

Fergus Falls 14, Grand Rapids 6

Monticello 21, Willmar 7

Oct. 6 Results

St. Michael-Albertville 31, Brainerd 20

Friday, Oct. 12

Tech at Apollo

Willmar at Sartell


Brainerd at Grand Rapids

Alexandria at Moorhead

Sauk Rapids at Bemidji

Monticello at Rocori

Fergus Falls at St. Michael-Albertville

Section 5-6A

Sect All

Maple Grove 4-0 6-0

Osseo 1-2 4-2

Brainerd 0-0 4-2

Champlin Park 3-0 4-2

Blaine 1-3 3-3

Anoka 1-2 3-3

Centennial 2-2 2-4

Coon Rapids 0-3 0-6

Note: Osseo forfeited wins to Maple Grove and Centennial for use of ineligible player.

Oct. 5 Results

Osseo 48, Park Center 0

Maple Grove 33, Centennial 6

Champlin Park 28, Blaine 27

Coon Rapids 42, Anoka 14

Oct. 6 Results

St. Michael-Albertville 31, Brainerd 20

Friday, Oct. 12

Brainerd at Grand Rapids

Coon Rapids at Maple Grove

Osseo at Elk River

Centennial at Blaine

Champlin Park at Anoka

Warriors statistics



Conor Gessell 88 553 6.3 8

Luke Boran 95 476 5.0 5

Logan Davis 94 346 3.7 4

Ma. Severson 5 32 6.4 0

Matt Ramerth 4 18 4.5 0

Thomas Stoxen 3 14 4.7 0

Lo. McElfresh 1 12 12.0 1

Matt Sucik 1 6 6.0 0


Luke Boran 47 84 607 5

Thomas Stoxen 2 4 25 0

Lo. McElfresh 0 1 0 0


Cole Smith 14 200 14.3 1

Isaiah Smith 12 171 14.3 2

Conor Gessell 4 90 22.5 1

Grant Reuer 8 86 10.8 1

Logan Davis 8 72 9.0 0

Logan Jones 3 32 10.7 0

Q. McElfresh 1 13 13.0 0


Conor Gessell 10 2 0 64

Luke Boran 5 0 0 30

Logan Davis 5 0 0 30

Lo. McElfresh 1 0 19 25

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, Jace Engelmann 1

Fumble recoveries: Kelash 1, Jake Donnay 1, Cole Smith 1, Simpson 1, T.J. Graumann 1

Interceptions: Reuer 4, Stoxen 1. Cole Smith 1

Season tackle leaders: C. Smith 82, Simpson 66, Kelash 64, Graumann 63

Points per-game average: Brainerd 31.8, opposition 25.4

Yards per game average: Brainerd 362.8, opposition 302.4