High School Football: Fresh off 1 of ESPN's top plays, Alexandria to take on Warriors
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.
"It was kind of funny, I guess, because we have brilliant plays that are designed that kids run perfectly and kids execute perfectly, then we have one that goes very awry and a couple guys just stick with the play," Cardinals head coach Mike Empting said. "Matthew had a long way to run to recover that snap that got launched over his head and he didn't give up on it.
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Brainerd vs. Alexandria
- When: 7 p.m. Friday
- Where: Don Adamson Field, Brainerd
- Last meeting: Brainerd won 50-43 during 2017 regular season and 23-14 in Section 8-5A championship game
- The series: Brainerd leads 37-22
- Twitter: @bertsballpark
- Radio: KLIZ-AM (1380)
- Web stream: www.brainerdradio.net.
- Warrior stats are at www.mnfootballhub.com and www.minnesota-scores.net
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"We were down 9 at that point, time was winding down, we had just gotten into field goal range. It would have taken us out of field goal range if something bad happened.
"As it turned out, Matthew kept going, Evan kept working, and it was a little bit of luck."
After the touchdown pulled the Cardinals to 16-14, Alexandria's Zach Wosepka kicked a 32-yard field goal to secure the win.
The victory evened Alexandria's record at 1-1 as it prepares to travel Friday, Sept. 14, to Adamson Field in Brainerd, to take on the 0-2 Warriors who will be playing their home opener.
"We're looking for a more spirited, energetic performance as we open at home," Warriors head coach Ron Stolski said. "I think being home, before our school, we're hoping for that little bounce in the step."
In a search of Brainerd Dispatch records, this is the first time since 1988 Brainerd has opened 0-2. Stolski said there's no reason to panic, but there is a need to improve in a few areas.
In its first two games, Brainerd surrendered seven touchdown passes, 70 points, 900 total yards and 246 yards on kickoff returns.
"The season goes quickly," Stolski said. "After Friday's game, one-third of the season will be gone. There's certainly no panic. The key is we're looking for improvement. We've turned the ball over a few times in key situations, which is somewhat uncharacteristic, but again every team is a new team.
"We've been pretty fortunate in that we have not had a distinguishable injury so that we're playing the kids that we practice with. The hope is with increased game experience that begins to show a little bit.
"We're pleased with a lot of aspects of our play. It's just a matter of, if we review the first couple games, it's a matter of probably a half-dozen plays that could have gone one way or another. Certainly we have to shore up the mistakes that we've made, particularly defensively."
Empting isn't about to be deceived by Brainerd's 0-2 start. He realizes the Warriors have lost to quality teams like Buffalo and St. Cloud Tech.
"0-2 for Brainerd, I know they're going to be a hungry team," Empting said. "They're not accustomed to being 0-2. They're definitely not accustomed to being 0-3. I don't think that would be anything that would sit very well there with the players or coaches or anybody else. So I think they're going to be hungry for a win.
"They're always very tough at home. I expect a pretty motivated Brainerd club for sure. They always have a great following so it's always a strong home field (advantage) for those guys."
BRAINERD WARRIORS (0-2)
OFFENSE QB: 7-Sam Miller, 23-Owen Davis
RB: 25-Joe Klang, 22-Ben Staehling, 26-Davon Stuckey, 2-Braden Kramer, 5-Taylor Ludwig, 21-Bryson Bassett
WR: 8-Pat Gervenak, 35-Levi McDonald, 24-Gabe Smith, 10-Brett Besenfelder, 23-Owen Davis, 36-Jon Nelson, 84-Renzen Caughey
T: 66-Jason Jennette, 60-Isaac Chappuis, 64-Cameron Olson, 75-Brady Seidl
G: 56-Nate Bessingpas, 64-Cameron Olson, 57-Garret Gardiepy
C: 53-Brett Hague, 60-Isaac Chappius
T: 45-Morgan Gibson, 57-Garret Gardiepy, 66-Jason Jennette, 71-John Berry, 90-Mannie Uketegbe, 76-Blake Schibonski, 67-Logan Thede
NG: 78-Nick Moline, 95-Elias Lies, 93-Isaac Winter
OLB: 5-Taylor Ludwig, 2-Braden Kramer, 28-Josh McLain, 30-Tom Fickett
ILB: 17-Jacob Dreitz, 40-Forrest Gibson, 28-Josh McLain, 55-Simon Nelson, 56-Nate Bessingpas
CB: 35-Levi McDonald, 15-Jack Olson, 44-Devlin Lamke, 31-John Barr, 47-Calvin Foss, 16-Joey Wiskow, 26-Davon Stuckey
SS: 8-Pat Gervenak, 22-Ben Staehling, 41-Mark Boran, 27-Devin Emslander, 32-Caleb Nagel
FS: 20-Brady Anderson, 23-Owen Davis
P: 25-Joe Klang, 23-Owen Davis
K: 81-Zach Henke
LS: 15-Jack Olson H: 7-Sam Miller Returns: 8-Pat Gervenak, 20-Brady Anderson, 26-Davon Stuckey, 22-Ben Staehling, 23-Owen Davis, 25-Joe Klang
ALEXANDRIA CARDINALS (1-1)
WR: 15-Cody Branson
T: 66-Alex Neale
G: 69-Damajia Hall
C: 54-Isaac Siegel
G: 51-Nick Langner
T: 75-Hunter Croonquist
HB: 3-Andrew Revering
QB: 7-Matthew Carlsen
RB: 24-Nolan Morical
WR: 12-Evan Lattimer
WR: Taylor Jendro
E: 88-Daniel Jantzen
T: 64-Connor Lay
T: 66-Alex Neale
E: 85-Derek Pesta
LB: 25-Matthew Zick
LB: 52-Braden Anderson
LB: 22-Paul Schwartz
CB: 15-Cody Branson
CB: 29-Derrek Piepho
S: 9-Wade Odland
S: 3-Andrew Revering
Punter: 7-Matthew Carlsen
Kicker: 16-Zach Wosepka
Holder: 8-Kade Blankenship
Aug 31, at Buffalo — Lost 38-28
Sept 7, St. Cloud Tech at St. John's University — Lost 32-26
Sept 14, Alexandria 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept 21, Sauk Rapids-Rice 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept 28, at Bemidji 7 p.m.
Saturday, Oct 6, Becker 2 p.m. (homecoming)
Friday, Oct 12, Moorhead 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct 17, at Sartell 7 p.m. Section 8-5A Playoffs
Tuesday, Oct 23, quarterfinals
Saturday, Oct 27, semifinals
Friday, Nov 2, championship
NORTH CENTRAL RED SUBDISTRICT
Sauk Rapids 1-0, St. Cloud Tech 1-0, Alexandria 1-0, Bemidji 0-0, Moorhead 0-1, Brainerd 0-1, Sartell 0-1
Sept. 7 Results
Tech 32, Brainerd 26
Bemidji 41, Big Lake 0
Sauk Rapids 24, Moorhead 20
Alexandria 17, Sartell 16
Friday, Sept 14, Games 7 p.m.
Alexandria at Brainerd
Sartell at St. Cloud Apollo
Tech at Moorhead
Sauk Rapids at Bemidji
Bemidji 2-0, Alexandria 1-1, Brainerd 0-2, Moorhead 0-2, Sartell 0-2
Points per-game average: Opponent 35.0, Brainerd 27.0
Yards per game average: Opponent 450.0, Brainerd 364.5