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High School Football: Much at stake for Brainerd in regular-season finale

One of the Brainerd Warriors’ seemingly annual traditions is to enter the final game of the regular season with something at stake.

The Warriors enter the last game Wednesday night at Alexandria with an outside shot of sharing the Central Lakes Conference title. Brainerd is 3-1 in CLC play. If St. Cloud Apollo bumps off league-leading Fergus Falls (4-0), the Warriors and Otters would share the crown. If Rocori (4-1) defeats St. Cloud Tech, the Spartans also would earn a share if they win.

If teams finish with the same number of losses, since teams play an uneven number of CLC games, they share the title.

“We have a chance, an outside chance, and that’s one of the kids’ goals,” Warriors coach Ron Stolski said of a conference title.

A win could give Brainerd a home playoff game in Section 5-6A. Maple Grove leads with a 7-0 mark, Osseo and Champlin Park are 5-2. With a win Wednesday, Brainerd finishes 6-2 overall, better than Blaine, Anoka, Centennial or Coon Rapids. Seeding will be determined Thursday.

Two things complicate this year’s section seeding process:

1) Brainerd has not played any opponent in its section.

2) Osseo is actually 7-0 but forfeited wins to Maple Grove and Centennial for using an ineligible player. Section 5-6A will seed by a face-to-face vote of coaches.

“In the (Quality Results Formula) system, forfeits are not counted as wins or as losses,” Kevin Merkle, associate director of the Minnesota State High School League, wrote in an email. “Our policy states that in the case of forfeits, a point system cannot be used and the seeding goes to a vote of the coaches. Coaches will each have an opportunity to discuss their season and advocate for their teams. They will then will vote based on ‘tournament team strength.’ This allows coaches to factor in the forfeits based on the reason for the forfeit.

“The goal is to seed the section tournament as fairly as possibility.”

Brainerd looks to finish on a high note after rallying from 6-0 and 9-7 deficits at Grand Rapids and beating the Thunderhawks 27-9. Running back Conor Gessell rushed for 224 yards and two touchdowns. The Warriors’ defense limited Rapids to 205 total yards. In the second half, the Thunderhawks were shut out, and managed only four first downs and 61 total yards.

“We’ve only had one little blurp in our effort, and we took care of that last week,” Stolski said. “The effort against Grand Rapids was outstanding. We just need to do it again, a couple days later.”

Alexandria pursues just its second win of the season after losing to Class 5A’s fifth-ranked and unbeaten Moorhead Spuds 25-15 last week. In the first half the Cardinals registered just 43 total yards while fumbling the ball away three times and fell behind 23-0.

The Cardinals have been outscored by an average of 30.9 to 17.3 but, other than a 43-0 pasting administered by Rocori, they haven’t lost by more than 15 points.

“We’ve been competitive,” Cards coach Mike Empting said. “We’ve struggled with turnovers and penalties, giving the ball away or putting ourselves in unmanageable situations in down and distance. Fumbling the ball has been an issue.”

The Cardinals are led in rushing by halfback Mitch Peck with 402 yards and four scores. Fullback Jake Bear has contributed 342 yards and six TDs.

Quarterback John Vogeler has completed 53 of 102 passes (52 percent) for 553 yards and two TDs.

Tight end Aaron Steidl and Bear are the top receivers with 14 catches apiece.

“They will pose a lot of problems for us defensively,” Stolski said. “They’re bigger than we are, they play a wing-T, which is a power offense. They can move to the spread. In the spread they moved the ball very well against Moorhead. They’re a dangerous team, I like their quarterback and their running backs.

“It’s at their place, and I’m sure they want to end the season on a good note, like we do.”

This will be the 53rd game between the schools, the first since 2009.

“Alexandria-Brainerd is a great rivalry,” Empting said. “It’s been a couple years since we played. We’re looking forward to playing them again. It’s going to be our seniors’ night so it’s the last regular-season game on our field for them. We’re playing for possibly a chance for a home playoff game, so things are on the line there.”


Brainerd Warriors


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

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

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

WR: 31-Cole Smith, 8-Logan Jones

TE: 15-Logan McElfresh, 54-Alex Mimmack

C: 64-Billy Desrocher, 57-Zach Shepersky,

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

T: 67-Alex DeRosier, 68/87-Alex Evanson, 75-James Weiss, 63-Anthony Cory


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

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

ILB: 30-Taylor Scheidenberger, 47-Winston Fenske, 41-Taylor Streiff, 34/52-Slade Simpson, 53-Sam Kelash

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: 7-Grant Reuer, 31-Cole Smith

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

Holder: 11-Luke Boran, 12-Thomas Stoxen

Alexandria Cardinals


X-11-Riley Hvezda

LT: 74-Ted Deitz

LG: 73-Mitch Maday

C: 53-Max Flowers

RG: 59-Chase Duwenhoegger

RT: 78-Tyler Meyer

TE: 38-Aaron Steidl

FB: 23-Jake Bear

QB: 7-John Vogeler

HB: 46-Mitch Peck

WB: 40-Tyler Kelly

Z: 37-Nathan Huss


LE: 38-Aaron Steidl

LF: 74-Ted Deitz

RT: 53-Max Flowers

RE: 5-James Holquist

Sam: 82-Joe Gorghuber

Mike: 41-Chad Peterson

Rover: 45-Parker Revering

CB: 37-Nathan Huss

SS: 22-Nick Knoblach

FS: 11-Riley Hvezda

CB: 1-Parker Bowden


K: 30-Tyler Lenarz

P: 38-Aaron Steidl

LS: 45-Parker Revering

Holder: 18-Mitch Thompson

K/P Return: 23-Jake Bear, 46-Mitch Peck, 18-Mitch Thompson

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 WON 27-9

Oct 17, at Alexandria 7 p.m.

Central Lakes Conference

Conf All

Fergus Falls 4-0 5-2

Rocori 4-1 4-3

Brainerd 3-1 5-2

Sartell 3-2 5-2

St. Cloud Tech 2-3 3-4

Willmar 2-3 3-4

St. Cloud Apollo 2-4 2-5

Alexandria 1-4 1-6

Sauk Rapids 1-4 1-6

Oct. 12 Results

Apollo 26, Tech 20

Willmar 28, Sartell 21


Brainerd 27, Grand Rapids 9

Moorhead 25, Alexandria 15

Bemidji 41, Sauk Rapids 20

Monticello 7, Rocori 0

St. Michael-Albertville 42, Fergus Falls 0

Wednesday, Oct. 17

Brainerd at Alexandria

Rocori at Tech

Apollo at Fergus Falls

Willmar at Sauk Rapids


Sartell at Bemidji

Section 5-6A

Sect All

Maple Grove 5-0 7-0

Osseo 1-2 5-2

Champlin Park 4-0 5-2

Brainerd 0-0 5-2

Blaine 2-3 4-3

Anoka 1-3 3-4

Centennial 2-3 2-5

Coon Rapids 0-4 0-7

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

Oct. 12 Results

Brainerd 27, Grand Rapids 9

Maple Grove 49, Coon Rapids 19

Osseo 36, Elk River 10

Blaine 38, Centennial 9

Champlin Park 42, Anoka 17

Wednesday, Oct. 17

Brainerd at Alexandria

Maple Grove at Champlin Park

Totino Grace at Osseo

Anoka at Blaine

Coon Rapids at Centennial

Warriors statistics



Conor Gessell 124 777 6.3 10

Luke Boran 106 539 5.1 6

Logan Davis 94 346 3.7 4

Ma. Severson 6 31 5.2 0

Matt Ramerth 4 18 4.5 0

Thomas Stoxen 3 14 4.7 0

Lo. McElfresh 2 13 6.5 1

Matt Sucik 1 6 6.0 0


Luke Boran 54 96 667 6

Thomas Stoxen 2 4 25 0

Lo. McElfresh 0 2 0 0


Cole Smith 17 231 13.6 2

Isaiah Smith 13 176 13.5 2

Conor Gessell 5 95 19.0 1

Grant Reuer 10 105 10.5 1

Logan Davis 8 72 9.0 0

Logan Jones 3 32 10.7 0

Q. McElfresh 1 13 13.0 0


Conor Gessell 12 2 0 76

Luke Boran 6 0 0 36

Logan Davis 5 0 0 30

Lo. McElfresh 1 0 22 28

Isaiah Smith 2 0 0 12

Grant Reuer 2 0 0 12

Cole Smith 2 0 0 12

Forced fumbles: Simpson 1, Kelash 3, Fenske 2, Reuer 1, Maier 2, Bowman 1, Engelmann 1, Graumann 1

Fumble recoveries: Kelash 2, Donnay 1, Cole Smith 1, Simpson 1, Graumann 1, Bowman 1

Interceptions: Reuer 5, Stoxen 1. Cole Smith 1

Tackles vs. Grand Rapids: Kelash 17, Scheidenberger 17, Graumann 16, Fenske 13

Points per-game average: Brainerd 29.4, opposition 23.9

Yards per game average: Brainerd 350.1, opposition 284.9

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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