High School Football: 2nd-seeded Warriors to open postseason against No. 3 Alexandria

An improving third-seeded Alexandria Cardinals team will provide the opposition for the No. 2 Brainerd Warriors as the teams kick off the postseason at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, with a Section 8-5A semifinal game at Adamson Field. Since getting d...



An improving third-seeded Alexandria Cardinals team will provide the opposition for the No. 2 Brainerd Warriors as the teams kick off the postseason at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, with a Section 8-5A semifinal game at Adamson Field.

Since getting drilled 36-7 by Brainerd in Week Three of the regular season, the Cardinals have beaten Rocori and Moorhead and are 3-5 overall. In losses to St. Cloud Tech and Sauk Rapids, the Cardinals lost by a combined eight points. The only lopsided loss during the last five games was 30-12 to top-seeded Bemidji.

Alexandria coach Mike Empting said the Cardinals had a chance to beat Tech at the end and lost to Sauk Rapids as the Storm scored on the last play of the game and were successful on a 2-point conversion.

Empting said several lineup changes have been made since the Brainerd loss.


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Alexandria at Brainerd

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"Some of that meant we moved kids to be more one-way," he said. "We had a lot of 2-way guys there for a while. That was a big one.

"We were a young team coming into this, too. We knew that from the beginning. We were hoping and banking that kids were going to make steady improvement as the season went along and got some experience. We felt like experience was the biggest thing these guys were missing."

Junior quarterback Matthew Carlson has benefited from experience. He has completed 138 of 256 passes (53.9 percent) for 1,532 yards and 13 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Leading receivers are Cody Branson (26 catches, 377 yards), halfback Andrew Revering (32 and 256) and Blake Hoelscher (16 receptions, 215 yards, four TDs.)

Nolan Morical heads the ground game with 663 yards rushing and four scores. Carlsen has added three TDs rushing.

"We had some challenges catching the ball early in the season, but those things have been cleaned up a little bit," Empting said. "We have a very young offensive line that Nolan's been running behind for a while. Those guys gained some experience and some confidence. They have a better idea of who they're supposed to block and where they're supposed to go. That's important in helping the running back get some numbers and a few more holes for him to get through."


Warriors coach Ron Stolski said his staff thought Alexandria had one of the better defensive fronts they played against and the position changes have made the Cardinals even better.

"If you would have looked at them at the beginning of the year, and looked at the team you see now, you would say 'Boy, that's really a good football team,"' Stolski said.

The Warriors enter the postseason having won five of their last six games since losing to Buffalo in the opener and to Tech in Week Two. Stolski said leading rusher Joe Klang and linebacker Taylor Ludwig will miss the game with injuries and a few other starters are also out.

"We're coaching our kids to win," he said. "We're not going to concede anything, but we certainly will have to continue to raise our level of play and continue to improve as we have.

"We've had a good week of practice. We're down a couple of starters and I don't think there's any problem mentioning that Klang and Ludwig are out. The people that played for them the other night (in a 42-0 win over Sartell) played very well."

Empting and Stolski expect a closer contest than the regular-season meeting.

"Aside from the Brainerd game, which we felt got away from us, we've felt like we've been in every game," Empting said. "We just needed to clean some stuff up.

"Brainerd is a good team, there's no denying that. They took it to us pretty good. They took advantage of our mistakes. That's what good teams do. Good teams also don't make the mistakes we were making either."


Said Stolski: "We've had a number of, I guess you could call them, shootouts over the last several games we've had with Alexandria. It always has been a really good game and I expect to see the same Saturday."


Brainerd Warriors (5-3)


QB: 7-Sam Miller, 23-Owen Davis

RB: 22-Ben Staehling, 2-Braden Kramer, 21-Bryson Bassett, 85-Caden Schoeppner, 5-Taylor Ludwig, 25-Joe Klang, 26-Davon Stuckey

WR: 8-Pat Gervenak, 24-Gabe Smith, 23-Owen Davis, 18-Dalton Hamre, 43-Harry Carlson, 10-Brett Besenfelder, 36-Jon Nelson, 84-Renzen Caughey, 11-Levi McDonald

T: 66-Jason Jennette, 60-Isaac Chappuis, 64-Cameron Olson, 75-Brady Seidl

G: 57-Garrett Gardiepy, 64-Cameron Olson, 56-Nate Bessingpas

C: 53-Brett Hague, 60-Isaac Chappius



T: 45-Morgan Gibson, 57-Garret Gardiepy, 66-Jason Jennette, 71-John Berry, 90-Mannie Uketegbe, 67-Logan Thede

NG: 78-Nick Moline, 95-Elias Lies, 93-Isaac Winter, 58-Fletcher DeRosier, 96-D'Khori Sturkey

OLB: 2-Braden Kramer, 28-Josh McLain, 30-Tom Fickett, 5-Taylor Ludwig

ILB: 17-Jacob Drietz, 40-Forrest Gibson, 28-Josh McLain, 55-Simon Nelson

CB: 22-Ben Staehling, 15-Jack Olson, 44-Devlin Lamke, 31-John Barr, 47-Calvin Foss, 16-Joey Wiskow, 35-Levi McDonald, 26-Davon Stuckey

SS: 23-Owen Davis, 41-Mark Boran, 27-Devin Emslander, 32-Caleb Nagel

FS: 8-Pat Gervenak, 20-Brady Anderson



P: 23-Owen Davis, 81-Zach Henke, 25-Joe Klang

K: 81-Zach Henke

LS: 15-Jack Olson

H: 7-Sam Miller

Returns: 22-Ben Staehling, 8-Pat Gervenak, 23-Owen Davis, 25-Joe Klang, 20-Brady Anderson, 26-Davon Stuckey




WR: 15-Cody Branson

WR: 12-Evan Lattimer

WR: 13-Taylor Jendro

QB: 7-Matthew Carlsen

HB: 3-Andrew Revering

RB: 24-Nolan Morical

T: 59-Ethan Engelbrecht

G: 52-Braden Anderson

C: 64-Connor Lay

G: 51-Nick Langner

T: 53-Hunter Hastings



E: 88-Daniel Jantzen

T: 65-Gabe Moore

T: 75-Hunter Croonquist

E85-Derek Pesta

LB: 25-Matthew Zick

LB: 35-Xavier Holmvig

LB: 27-Blake Hoelscher

CB: 29-Derrek Piepho

CB: 15-Cody Branson

S: 83-Mark Urman

S: 3-Andrew Revering



Punter: 7-Matthew Carlsen

Kicker: 16-Zach Wosepka





Aug 31, at Buffalo - Lost 38-28

Sept 7, St. Cloud Tech at St. John's University - Lost 32-26

Sept 14, Alexandria - WON 36-7

Sept 21, Sauk Rapids - WON 34-14

Sept 28, at Bemidji - Lost 12-7

Oct 6, Becker - WON 35-21

Oct 12, Moorhead - WON 21-6

Oct 17, at Sartell - WON 42-0 Section 8-5A Playoffs

Tuesday, Oct 23, opening round:

No. 4 Moorhead 41, No. 5 Sartell 6

Saturday, Oct 27, semifinals:

No. 3 Alexandria at No. 2 Brainerd 2 p.m.

Moorhead at No. 1 Bemidji 2 p.m.

Friday, Nov 2:

Championship at high seed 7 p.m.





Sauk Rapids 5-1, Bemidji 5-1, Brainerd 4-2, St. Cloud Tech 4-2, Alexandria 2-4, Moorhead 1-5, Sartell 0-6

Results Oct. 17

Brainerd 42, Sartell 0

Hutchinson 48, Sauk Rapids 13

Bemidji 31, Tech 30 OT

Alexandria 47, Moorhead 22





No. 10-Bemidji, 18-Brainerd, 33-Alexandria, 39-Moorhead, 47-Sartell


Bemidji 7-1, Brainerd 5-3, Alexandria 3-5, Moorhead 1-7, Sartell 0-8




Points per-game average: Brainerd 28.6, Opponents 16.3

Yards per game average: Brainerd 361.5, Opponents 328.5

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