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High School Football: High-flying Cardinals up next for Warriors

A high-flying Alexandria Cardinals team awaits the Brainerd Warriors in Friday night's North Central Red Subdistrict and Section 8-5A game. The Cardinals have won three straight - 70-33 over St. Cloud Apollo, 39-28 over Willmar and a wild 57-49 o...

A high-flying Alexandria Cardinals team awaits the Brainerd Warriors in Friday night's North Central Red Subdistrict and Section 8-5A game.

The Cardinals have won three straight - 70-33 over St. Cloud Apollo, 39-28 over Willmar and a wild 57-49 overtime win against Bemidji - to improve to 3-2 overall. They are averaging 42.4 points a game while surrendering an average of 38.6

"I think the biggest thing for us offensively (the last three weeks) is we've started taking better care of the football," Cards coach Mike Empting said. "We're not turning it over, we're not making mistakes that kill our drives at critical points. Defensively we're still trying to find our way."

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Warriors vs. Alexandria

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When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Alexandria

Last meeting: Brainerd won 20-7 in 2014

The series: Brainerd leads 35-20

Twitter: @bertsballpark

Radio: KLIZ-AM (1380)

Web stream: www.brainerdradio.net

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Last week at Bemidji, the Lumberjacks led 49-35 early in the fourth. Alexandria quarterback Jaran Roste passed to Aarin Willander to make it 49-42 and Roste tied it with 3:22 left when he found Brayden Amundson for a 28-yard score.

In overtime, the Cardinals got the ball first and scored on Micah Christenson's 3-yard rush. He then ran for the 2-point conversion and the final score. The Lumberjacks fumbled on their second overtime play and Alexandria recovered to end the game.

Roste finished 24 of 38 for 371 yards passing and five TDs. Logan Hatfield lit up the scoreboard for Bemidji, rushing for 393 yards, fifth-most in a single game in Minnesota State High School League history, and scored four touchdowns.

Roste, a junior, is having an Arena Football League-like season. He has completed 99 of 150 attempts (66 percent) for 1,358 yards and 16 TDs. He also has run for 313 yards and four scores.

Ten Cardinals have caught passes. The receiver corps is led by Amundson with 22 catches for 343 yards and five TDs and Willander with 16 catches for 238 yards and three TDs. Thomas Whiting has 14 receptions for 135 yards, Spencer Hockert 10 for 95 yards and two TDs and Christenson 12 for 172 yards and a TD.

Christenson is the leading rusher with 440 yards and six TDs.

"They're a high-powered offense in a season of a lot of scoring," Warriors coach Ron Stolski said. "Their quarterback is playing at an outstanding level. He's an excellent passer. He throws to a bevy of good receivers - I don't necessarily know if he has a favorite one. When you're scoring at the clip they're scoring at, the challenge is enormous for any defense."

Roste, in his second year as the Cardinals' starter, has been making strides forward each week.

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"He made some mistakes in a couple of early games but he's kind of straightened that out," Empting said. "He's making better decisions with the football. He's playing well, he's throwing the ball really well, and obviously he can run when he needs to. He's got a pretty good corps of receivers to throw to.

"We knew the strength of our team was our skill positions from the quarterback to our receivers and our running back. We had some question marks up front that we're still trying to iron out even though we're moving the ball and putting points up. We're still trying to find what our best mix is on both sides of the ball."

Brainerd (3-2 overall) needs to get off to better starts. In the first quarter of losses to Elk River and Moorhead, the Warriors were outscored 44-0. But they have recovered to outscore opponents 44-35 in the second quarter, 87-43 in the second half.

"I don't think it's anything like we're not ready to play. It might just be an oddity," Stolski said. "We have historically, I think, been a better team in the second through fourth quarters but we have had no indication that we're not ready to go.

"This is one of the hardest-working groups that we've had in our long history. They are ready to go every day. They work hard every day."

Empting is looking for a competitive but a possibly wide-open game Friday.

"I think both teams get geared up for this one," he said. "It doesn't matter what the records of one or the other is, it's going to be a good football game either way.

"Brainerd is very well-coached, they have been for years. They have good athletes at the skill positions. It's going to be a good challenge for us. They always play fast and physical on the defensive side. ... I know they're going to be inspired coming to Alexandria."

Brainerd Warriors

Depth Chart

OFFENSE

WR: 2-Chris Pederson, 7-Brady Kline, 20-Luke Wiskow, 8-Riley Fabian, 12-Cade Pikula, 82-Ryan Miller, 81-Max Boran, 26-Matt O'Reilly,

Slot: 11-Colton Borg, 15-Will Peabody, 84-Jordan Whitehead

T: 51-Josh Howieson, 75-Michael Bieganek, 74-Hunter Erickson, 65-Sam Olson, 77-Landon Lundeby

G: 55-Seth Desrocher, 52-Ryan Powers, 53-Arron Martin, 72-Evan Schreifels, 68-Justin Banks

C: 50-Sean Laughton, 76-Will Schneider, 85-Sam Nesheim

QB: 10-Hanson Devine, 2-Chris Pederson, 15-Will Peabody

RB: 40-Mitchell Rahn, 21-Allen Jevning, 28-Charlie Geraets, 34-Max Zimmerman, 5-Tristan Brecht, 25-Jacob Ebinger

DEFENSE

Line: 51-Josh Howieson, 91-Greg Rider, 74-Hunter Erickson, 47-Dylan Crandall, 57-Zach Stangl, 54-Josh Rushmeyer, 56-Trenton Rushmeyer, 55-Seth Desrocher, 58-Jared Lane, 95-Isaak Hines, 78-Kaleb Cherne, 94-Kyler Yerks, 92-Tate Arntson

LB: 5-Tristan Brecht, 53-Arron Martin, 35-Brandon Justin, 36-C.J. Wohl, 44-James Loveless, 46-Nathan King, 46-Brandon Tandeski, 45-Josh Bock

CB: 24-Nick Peterson, 23-Cole Harmer, 21-Allen Jevning, 20-Luke Wiskow, 33-Cody Christianson, 30-Tanner Clink, 14-Caleb Meyer, 22-Keywon Jackson

S: 2-Chris Pederson, 20-Luke Wiskow, 25-Jacob Ebinger, 16-Jake Berg, 31-Corbin Pikula, 41-Devan Liebeg

SPECIAL TEAMS

Punter: 2-Chris Pederson, 41-Devan Liebeg

Kicker: 89-David Saxum

Long snapper: 36-C.J. Wohl

Holder: 15-Will Peabody

Returns: 2-Chris Pederson, 21-Allen Jevning

Alexandria Cardinals

Lineup

OFFENSE

X: 7-Brayden Amundson

T: 67-Luke Paschka

G: 52-Jordan Jantzen

C: 78-Dylan Larson

G: 76-Jeremiah Burnham

T: 65-Alex Schmidt

Z: 11-Tom Whiting

H: 88-Aarin Wilander

QB: 1-Jaran Roste

RB: 22-Micah Christiansen

Y: 87-Bryce Ludwig

DEFENSE

LE: 76-Jeremiah Burnham

T: 59-Jay Kohls

T: 79-Quinn Gibson

RE: 64-Gavin Hvezda

SLB: 35-Quintin Kluver-Longfellow

MLB: 32-Dylan Ledman

WLB: 24-Will Odland

CB: 42-Robert Anderson

CB: 27-Sam Helgeson

SS: 20-Wyatt Wittenburg

FS: 9-Jake Drew

SPECIAL TEAMS

K: 2-Zach Harstad

P: 1-Jaran Roste

LS: 80-Henry Wirtjes

Holder: 9-Jake Drew

Returns: 3-Preston Buechler, 22-Micah Christiansen, 11-Tom Whiting

Warriors schedule (3-2)

Aug 22, Elk River - Lost 51-28

Aug 28, St. Cloud Apollo - WON 35-6

Sept 4, at Willmar - WON 27-13

Sept 11, Sauk Rapids-Rice - WON 35-14

Sept 18, at Moorhead - Lost 38-13

Sept 25, at Alexandria 7 p.m.

Oct 3, Sartell 2 p.m. Homecoming

Oct 8, at Bemidji 7 p.m.

North Central (Red) Subdistrict

Dist All PF PA

Moorhead 4-0 5-0 37.6 11.6

Alexandria 3-1 3-2 42.4 38.6

Bemidji 3-1 3-2 36.4 32.6

Brainerd 3-1 3-2 27.6 24.4

Rocori 2-2 3-2 26.6 16.0

St. Cloud Tech 2-2 2-3 24.8 27.0

Sauk Rapids-Rice 1-3 2-3 21.8 30.8

Willmar 1-3 2-3 24.2 28.0

Sartell-St. Stephen 1-3 1-4 20.2 26.8

St. Cloud Apollo 0-4 1-4 19.8 43.0

Section 8, Class 5A

Sect All PF PA

Moorhead 4-0 5-0 37.6 11.6

Alexandria 2-1 3-2 42.4 38.6

Bemidji 1-1 3-2 36.4 32.6

Brainerd 1-1 3-2 27.6 24.4

Sartell-St. Stephen 0-2 1-4 20.2 26.8

St. Cloud Apollo 0-3 1-4 19.8 43.0

Warriors statistics

FIVE GAMES

PASSING Com Att Yds TD

Hanson Devine 25 51 290 4

RUSHING Att Yds Avg TD

Mitchell Rahn 108 536 5.0 2

Allen Jevning 57 395 6.9 8

Chris Pederson 25 260 10.4 3

Charlie Geraets 12 86 7.2 1

Max Zimmerman 4 33 8.3 0

Hanson Devine 26 30 1.2 1

Will Peabody 1 9 9.0 0

Joe Christianson 2 5 2.5 0

RECEIVING No. Yds Avg TD

Will Peabody 6 77 12.8 1

Chris Pederson 7 68 9.7 2

Brady Kline 5 66 13.2 0

Allen Jevning 4 61 15.3 1

Colton Borg 1 19 19.0 1

Tristan Brecht 1 6 6.0 0

Mitchell Rahn 1 -7 -7.0 0

SCORING TD 2PT EPK TP

Allen Jevning 9 1 0 56

Chris Pederson 5 0 0 30

David Saxum 0 0 14 14

Mitchell Rahn 2 0 0 12

Hanson Devine 1 1 0 8

Colton Borg 1 0 0 6

Will Peabody 1 0 0 6

Charlie Geraets 1 0 0 6

Points per-game average: Brainerd 25.0, opposition 24.4

Yards per game average: Brainerd 325.8, opposition 355.6

Defense vs. Moorhead

Forced fumble: Martin

Interception: Wiskow

Pass breakup: Chris Pederson, Jevning

Tackles: Martin 16, Ebinger 16, Brecht 14, Chris Pederson 12, Justin 10

Season Defense - 5 Games

Blocked punt: Nick Peterson, Brecht

Blocked extra point: Rider, Howieson, Chris Pederson

Forced fumble: Wiskow 2, Jevning, Martin

Fumble recovery: Hines, Borg, Howieson

Interceptions: Wiskow 3, Chris Pederson 2, Jevning

Sacks: Martin 1, Justin, Erickson, Stangl .5, Rider .5

Average tackles: Brecht 14.6, Martin 13.0, Justin 10.0

MIKE BIALKA may be reached at mike.bialka@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5861. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bertsballpark .

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