High School Football: Brainerd opens season at home against Coon Rapids

Brainerd vs Coon Rapids Preview in a Week Zero contest

The Brainerd football team scrimmages Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021, for practice at Adamson Field in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Ten Minnesota high school football teams will start a week earlier than the rest.

The Brainerd Warriors are one of those 10 as they host Coon Rapids in a Zero Week game Friday, Aug. 27, at Adamson Field.

Last season, the Warriors played four games and went 1-3. This season, Brainerd moved up to Class 6A and opens its season with the only 6A opponent it’ll play in 2021.

The Cardinals of Coon Rapids went 1-5 in last year’s shortened season. Like Brainerd, Coon Rapids makes its jump back to Class 6A after moving to Class 5A in 2017.

The two teams haven’t played each other since 2000 with Brainerd winning 20-12. Brainerd will travel to Coon Rapids for a game next year.


“For us moving into 6A and being able to play and know a game like this has a lot of importance to us when it comes to seeding because this is the only 6A team we have,” Warriors head coach Jason Freed said. “To be able to have that nugget and tell our kids and focus on our kids is helpful. Sometimes that first game, you know, you’re going to have rust and make mistakes that come with the first game, but I think, if anything, it creates a sense of urgency with the coaching staff and players to make sure we are getting things prepared.”

Coon Rapids head coach Nick Rusin is excited to make the trip to play the Warriors.

“Both teams are going in, kind of blind in a sense,” Rusin said. “It’s a fresh team. It’s a fresh opponent. It’s a chance to kind of start a new rivalry. We get to make a little road trip and have a new experience and uniqueness and some new energy into your program. The downfall is you don’t really know much about your opponent.”

Freed said there’s a mix of anxiety and refreshment in playing an opponent they’ve haven’t played in 21 years.

“You know anytime we play Bemidji or Moorhead or Alexandria or Sartell we have such familiarity with each other and the coaching staff and how we think that a lot of times there’s a lot more of a chess match that goes on whereas when you play someone you haven’t played before everything is off the table in a sense,” Freed said. “I think as the game goes on, you’ll start to see the teams feel each other out a little more and then we’ll get to play them again next year and maybe create a little bit of a natural rival.”

The biggest returning piece for Coon Rapids is senior running back David Geebli. The 5-foot-8, 190-pound back ran for 633 yards on 113 attempts and six touchdowns in six games last season.

“He’s going into his third year as our starting running back, so he is one that is a captain on our football team. He's a great leader. A great young man and a great running back,” Rusin said. “He’s what kind of makes our offense go a little bit. When you look at the offensive side of the ball it ends and starts with him a little bit at that running back position.”

Brainerd’s front seven, which features three captains in Riley DeRosier, Jacob Holm and Cam Langerman, will be tasked in limiting Geebli Friday.


“Their running back is a special player in my opinion,” Freed said. “He’s very dynamic, very explosive. When I started watching film on them here this summer he stuck out right away. I mean immediately. I said this kid is a playmaker and is going to be the guy. We are going to make sure we key in on the running game and take him away.”

Coon Rapids’ leading passer from last year, Griffin Thom, also returns. Last season, the now junior quarterback threw for 419 yards and two touchdowns in four games played.

“He seemed like he throws the ball pretty well and can be a running threat also,” Freed said. “So we are just going to have to be a sound defense and understand that we can’t give up big plays.”

Similar to the Warriors as well, Rusin likes how his defensive front seven looks. Kendrick Dowdell, a senior defensive lineman, recorded 29 tackles in five games which was fourth-best on the Cardinals last season.

“We basically return all four guys on that defensive line,” Rusin said. “All of them are seniors this year and that defensive line as a unit is something we are excited about. It should be a strength of our defense.”

Max Walz at safety and Jacob Kiffmeyer at linebacker are two other players Rusin said he’s excited about on the defense.

Brainerd shuffled around pieces on the offensive side. Nathaniel Staehling is slotted in to be a running back after spending the last two seasons under center for the Warriors.

“Anytime you talk about Brainerd the running game is going to be key,” Freed said. “For us, it’s establishing the running game with a solid foundation upfront with our offensive line. Ultimately, every game comes down to the trenches and I’m excited to see how that plays out.”


Playing in the backfield opens Staehling to play safety on defense.

Junior Marcello Getty will be Brainerd’s starter in his first-ever varsity game Friday.

Freed is excited to kick off the football season in Minnesota with a Week Zero game.

“I’m hoping people start gravitating toward coming to the game and watching Friday night in the stands,” Freed said. “I don’t think there’s any additional pressure with it being a Week Zero game or anything like that. It’s just our season opener and that’s how we will look at it.”

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at


Brainerd Warriors (0-0)
QB: 7-Marcello Getty, 15-Eli Hoelz
RB: 22-Nathaniel Staehling, 20-Damen Bentho, 28-Jesse Rodman
WR: 2-Jed Klang, 8-Matt Huesmann, 11-Ethan Windorski, 14-Reece Isle, 16-Sam Spieker, 15-Eli Hoelz
TE: 84-Mitchell Degen, 86-Caleb Lange, 80-Henry Hopkins
OL: 60-Dominik Waytashek, 57-Carter Springer, 66-Caden Jager, 67-Jacob Borgstrom, 73-Dalton Barrett, 76-Elijah Hanson, 51-Josh Albright, 68-Mason Callstrom, 71-Kolbie Bernu
DL: 53-Grant Gardiepy, 54-Riley DeRosier, 95-Max Barber, 89-Jack Schafer, 5-Eli Wiskow, 56-Mitchell Wind, 50-Rhyen Buckmaster
LB: 17-Jacob Holm, 25-Cam Langerman, 52-Brady Toensing, 60-Dylan Wgeishofski, 42-Dylan Gross, 21-Conner Erickson
DB: 31-Ethan Derosier, 22-Nathaniel Staehling, 23-Dillon MacLaughlin, 82-Ethan Olson, 30-Kouper Seidel, 27-Dawon Piepho, 35-Brandon Stark, 26-Gaven Schwen, 43-Izayah Schultz, 38-Aiden Sills, 36-Daric Caughey, 31-Nathan Herkenhoff
Special Teams
K: 18-Ryan Westerberg, 88-Andrew Albright
P: 16-Nathaniel Staehling, 2-Jed Klang
Long Snapper: 84-Mitchell Degen, 8-Matt Huesmann
Holder: 16-Nathaniel Staehling

Coon Rapids Cardinals (0-0)
QB: 5-Griffin Thom
RB: 3-David Geebli
WR/TE: 15-Darius Ulen, 1-Dominick Oelmann, 21-Jerid Fearing, 31-Khi’Johnn Cummings-Coleman
OL: 68-Thomas Samit, 56-Asher Khan, 74-Nathan Caminati, 71-Hunter Wiitanen, 54-Ethan Owata, 57-Sam Dennis
DL: 55-Kendrick Dowdell, 79-Darius Oats, 70-James Kennedy, 36-Octavian Podubnii, 54-Ethan Owata
LB: 40-Edward Tabla, 44-Eric Anda, 10-Jacob Kiffmeyer, 2-Mohamed Mohamud, 27-Logan Ness, 28-Hunter Allen
CB: 23-Jack Hawkinson, 21-Sean Sullivan, 32-Adams Totimeh, 39-CJ Adler
S: 9-Max Walz, 17-Jackson Smith
Special Teams
K: 82-John Patrou
Holder: 20-Hunter Thompson
Snapper: 42-Carter Skradski

Warriors Schedule
Regular Season
Aug. 27, hosts Coon Rapids 7 p.m.
Sept. 2, at Andover 7 p.m.
Sept. 10, hosts Moorhead 7 p.m.
Sept. 17, at Sartell 7 p.m.
Sept. 24, at Bemidji 7 p.m.
Oct. 1, hosts Alexandria 7 p.m.
Oct. 8, hosts Rogers 7 p.m.
Oct. 20, at Buffalo 7 p.m.
Class 6A Playoffs
Oct. 29: Round One of Class 6A Playoffs
Nov. 5: Round Two of Class 6A Playoffs
Nov. 11-13: Class 6A Quarterfinals
Nov. 18-20: Class 6A Semifinals
Nov. 26-27: Class 6A Finals

North Central Red Subdistrict
Subdistrict Records
Alexandria 0-0, Bemidji 0-0, Brainerd 0-0, Moorhead 0-0, Sartell 0-0, Sauk Rapids 0-0, St. Cloud Tech 0-0
Week Zero games
Coon Rapids at Brainerd
Sartell at St. Cloud Tech


Team Stats
Rushing: 0-0
Passing: 0-0-0-0
Total Offense: 0-0
Rushing: 0-0
Passing: 0-0
Total Offense: 0-0

Coon Rapids at Brainerd

When: 7 p.m.

Where: at Brainerd High School

Last result: Brainerd won 20-12 in 2000.

The series: Brd 3-2.

Twitter: @the_rad34

Radio: KLIZ-AM (1380)


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