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In the season's first three games, the Brainerd Warriors averaged 93 yards passing compared to an average of 284 yards rushing. Warriors coach Ron Stolski sought better balance in their North Central Red Subdistrict game against the Sauk Rapids Storm and Brainerd accomplished that in a 34-14 victory Friday, Sept. 21, at Adamson Field. Quarterback Sam Miller passed for the majority of the Warriors' 223 yards while the running game remained constant by generating 275 yards for a 498-total yard night. Brainerd squared its record at 2-2 while dealing Class 5A's unbeaten and seventh-ranked Storm their first loss in four games.
Hopefully Friday, Sept. 21, turns out to be an uneventful weather night for high school football. Last Friday the action was wacky and the weather turbulent in some areas of the state with lightning delaying a few games, postponing a few others and canceling at least one. Here's a sampling of what transpired:
When a player leads a team in scoring as well as in assists, that's a definition of an unselfish player. Gabbie Smith leads the Brainerd Warrior girls soccer team in goals (11) and assists (8) and has scored three game-winning goals. And she would rather set up a teammate's goal over scoring one herself. "I have a lot of teammates that can get to open places and finish the ball," the junior forward said. "When the chance is there, I try to look for them instead of doing it all myself."
Kate Chaussee gave it everything she had and battled like a pro. The Brainerd Warrior sophomore matched St. Cloud Tech's Natalie Peterson stroke for stroke and serve for serve in a dramatic 3-set match in which Peterson finally prevailed to give the Tigers a 4-3 Central Lakes Conference victory at Brainerd High School Tuesday, Sept. 18. With Brainerd having won all three doubles matches and Tech having won the first three singles matches—all in straight sets—it was up to Chaussee and Peterson to decide the meet at No. 4 singles. Peterson, a junior, won the first set 6-0 before Chaussee rebounded for a 7-5 victory. Peterson then eked out a 6-4 win to end the dual meet.
A punishing running game and swarming defense led the Brainerd Warriors to their first win of the season, 36-7, over the Alexandria Cardinals in a Section 8-5A and North Central Red Subdistrict game Friday, Sept. 14, at stormy Adamson Field. Running backs Ben Staehling and Joe Klang combined to rush for 230 yards and four scores. The Warriors ran for 391 of their 402 total yards. Brainerd's defense was equally effective, limiting the Cardinals to 105 yards rushing, 281 total yards and no points in the second half. The Warriors sacked Alexandria quarterback Matthew Carlsen three times and Brady Anderson intercepted a pass.
It may be remembered as one of the most improbable scoring plays in Minnesota high school football in 2018. Alexandria was trailing Sartell 16-7 in the fourth quarter Sept. 7 and the Cardinals faced third down at the Sabres' 6. The play started with the snap from center sailing over the head of quarterback Matthew Carlsen who chased down the ball and scooped it up several yards behind the line of scrimmage. Carlsen rolled out toward the left sideline and passed into the end zone where the ball slipped through the hands of a Sartell defender and Alexandria's Evan Lattimer latched on to it for a score. Video of the play was tweeted on the Echo Press of Alexandria sports Twitter account. By the end of the night, ESPN SportsCenter's Twitter account had tweeted out the video to its 35.2 million followers. A day later, the video had exceeded 300,000 views.
Wait and create. That's what Brainerd Warrior girls tennis head coach Lisa Salo has been preaching to her No. 1 singles player Britney Fletcher. Basically the saying means maintaining composure and focus, being patient and hanging in there to build a point. "That's what Britney's got to build is how she approaches her matches at the first singles level and she's starting to do that," Salo said. "We've talked to her about big targets and depth. If she can focus on keeping the ball deep, working the point, waiting and creating that right shot, then she has more options to use."
A frantic, somewhat contentious finish was settled by the left foot of Nick Whiteman. The Brainerd junior midfielder tallied with 25 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Warriors a stirring 4-3 victory over the Rocori Spartans in a Central Lakes Conference game Tuesday, Sept. 11, at Adamson Field in Brainerd. The debate began when a free kick was called. Rocori thought the clock would be stopped and was scrambling to get into defensive position. Whiteman capitalized on the lack of defenders and approached the live ball.
COLLEGEVILLE—For the second-straight week, the Brainerd Warriors ran into a buzzsaw of an offense. Last week it was the Buffalo Bison erupting for 400-plus yards. In Friday's North Central Red Subdistrict opener, the St. Cloud Tech Tigers utilized big plays to roll up 464 total yards and defeat the Warriors 32-26 at Clemens Stadium. Tech running backs Troy Feddema and Kedrick Osuarah combined to rush for 305 yards and two touchdowns. Osuorah raced for 203 yards with a chunk of that coming on a 77-yard TD scamper. Feddema added 102 yards.
Jon Benson is back in the saddle. Formerly the head coach at St. Cloud Apollo, Benson spent the last nine years as an assistant at St. Cloud Tech, the last five as the Tigers' defensive coordinator. During the offseason, Benson was hired as Tech's head man after longtime head coach Gregg Martig departed to join the staff of former Sauk Rapids head coach Bill Magnuson at Pequot Lakes. Benson said after he left Apollo, for various reasons, he wasn't sure he wanted to be a head coach again.