High School Football: Section 8-5A opening round features rematch from 18 days ago

Nate Staehling rushes past Sartell defenders during Brainerd's 30-26 homecoming victory over the Sabres earlier this season. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

The Section 8-5A playoffs get underway with the opening round Tuesday, Oct. 22.

No. 4 seed Brainerd will host the No. 5 Sartell Sabres in one of those opening round matchups which is a rematch from their game 18 days prior.

“You just look at it as a playoff game,” Warrior head coach Ron Stolski. “Because most playoff games you are going to play someone you have played before. I know this team just beat Alex two weeks ago and I like their team and I said that two weeks ago.”

Brainerd beat Sartell 30-26 thanks to three rushing touchdowns by quarterback Nate Staehling and a scoop and score by linebacker Jacob Drietz.

Sartell outgained the Warriors 305-282, but couldn’t overcome the key turnover in the fourth quarter, which gave Brainerd their second win of the season during homecoming.


The Sabres featured an offense that runs most of the time. One of their leading rushers, Cody Lantis, suffered an ankle injury against the Warriors and is out for the rest of the season. Sartell has used a different combination of running backs since his injury to fill the workload.

Against Brainerd, the Sabres ran the ball 45 times compared to 14 pass attempts. Sartell completed six of those passes for 171 yards and five of them went to Dom Hagy who went for 158 yards and two touchdowns.

“You always want to have a balanced approach,” Sabres head coach Scott Hentges said. “In playoff football in Minnesota, you better be able to stop the run and be able to run the ball yourself, but we will take our shots when we can. Dom is a good receiver so I think he gives us a threat.”

Stolski is aware of Sartell’s passing game and also thinks the weather will factor into whether or not they will be successful in their passing attack.

“They threw the long ball and that’s how they scored,” Stolski said. “I think part of how each of us will play depends on the conditions.”

The Sabres finished off their regular season with a 34-6 loss to Becker making them 1-7 as they head into the section playoffs.

“We know Brainerd is a tough place to go and play,” Sabres head coach Scott Hentges said. “I like the way our guys are playing at the end of the season. We got a little bit of momentum coming off a win against Alexandria and you know we have had some stuff go against us in some previous games, but we showed what we could do in that game. Hopefully we can go out and play a good game against Brainerd.”

Brainerd comes off their regular-season finale in which they gained over 400 yards of offense against St. Cloud Tech. That was a season high. Brianerd took most of the MEA off so they will be well rested and hope to have a little bit of carry over of the offensive outburst they had against Tech.


The downside is they still lost 28-12, mostly due to the four interceptions thrown by the offense. One of those interceptions went for a touchdown for Tech and another touchdown came on a kickoff return.

The Warriors’ defense allowed less than 300 yards in the regular season finale which impressed Stolski.

Brainerd’s defense will need to continue to play to its strengths against Sartell if they hope to play Saturday in the section semifinals.

“Both teams have improved and both teams realized that this is it,” Stolski said. “I think we are coming off our offensive line’s best performance of the year.”

The last week of the regular season featured Moorhead upsetting Bemidji on the road and Sauk Rapids defeating Alexandria. Both games did not have any effect on Section 8-5A seeding, but Bemidji is no longer perfect heading into the playoffs.

For Moorhead, the win gave them a higher Quality Results Formula ranking than Alexandria, but due the Spuds’ early season loss to the Cardinals, Alexandria received the No. 2 seed and the bye. No. 3 seed Moorhead hosts No. 6 seed St. Cloud Apollo Tuesday, Oct. 22, and if they win will travel to Alexandria Saturday, Oct. 26. Bemidji awaits the winner of Sartell and Brainerd.

Stolski still believes his football team will make a run for the section title.

“I absolutely do and I mean it,” he said. “Bemidji has scored three touchdowns the last two game. We’ve grown and we are at this point in the season and hopefully we play our best game (against Sartell).”


Brainerd Warriors (2-6)


QB: 16-Nate Staehling, 12-Isaiah Windorski

RB: 17-Jacob Drietz, 21-Brandt Patton, 22-Ben Staehling, 24-Jack Lundstrom, 26-Davon Stuckey.

WR: 7-Jacob Smith, 8-Brett Besenfelder, 10-Harry Carlson, 23-Owen Davis, 28-Josh McLain.

OL: 51-Ethan Strong, 55-Simon Nelson, 58-Aden Crabb, 60-Dominik Waytashek, 66-Jackson Jeremiah, 68-Nick Smith, 75-Luke Wilhelm.


DL: 5-Andrew Thielke, 74-Se'Vign Thompson-Fly, 78-Nick Moline, 79-Chandler DeRosier, 99-John Berry.

LB: 17-Jacob Drietz, 26-Davon Stuckey, 28-Josh McLain, 40-Forrest Gibson.

CB: 2-Joey Wiskow, 10-Harry Carlson, 21-Brandt Patton.

SS: 20-Caden Schoppner, 22-Ben Staehling.

FS: 23-Owen Davis.

Special Teams

K: 88-Andrew Albright.

P: 23-Owen Davis.

Sartell Sabres (1-7)


QB: 9-Cole Hentges

RB: 30-Dylan Gerdes, 2-Andrew Ambrosier, 5-Steven Brinkerhoff

WR: 14-Dom Hagy

TE: 22-Jacob Bjelland

OL: 77-Blake Haus, 66-Ricky Emslander, 55-Carter Hemmesch, 52-Jack Engle, 75-Luke Wolfe


DL: 22-Jacob Bjelland, 75-Luke Wolfe, 55-Carter Hemmesch, 32-Carter Swenson

LB: 30-Dylan Gerdes, 5-Steven Brinkerhoff, 52-Jack Engel

CB: 14-Dom Hagy, 21-Nick Greer

S: 2-Andrew Ambrosier, 10-Eli Schlecht

Special Teams

K: 9-Anna Lundeen

Warriors Schedule

Regular Season

Aug. 29, at Elk River -- Lost 57-0

Sept. 6, at Bemidji -- Lost 23-0

Sept. 13, hosts Sauk Rapids-Rice -- Won 26-3

Sept. 20, hosts Moorhead -- Lost 14-13

Sept. 27, at Alexandria -- Lost 47-6

Oct. 4, hosts Sartell -- Won 30-26

Oct. 11, hosts Rocori -- Lost 12-6

Oct. 16, at St. Cloud Tech -- Lost 28-12

Section 8-5A Playoffs

Tuesday, Oct. 22, hosts Sartell 7 p.m.

Oct. 26: Semifinals.

Nov. 1: Finals.

North Central Red Subdistrict

Subdistrict Records

Bemidji 7-1 (5-1), Moorhead 5-3 (4-2), St. Cloud Tech 5-3 (4-2), Alexandria 5-3 (3-3), Brainerd 2-6 (2-4), Sauk Rapids 2-6 (2-4), Sartell 1-7 (1-5)

Week Eight results

St. Cloud Tech 28, Brainerd 12

Moorhead 17, Bemidji 6

Sauk Rapids 26, Alexandria 21

Becker 34, Sartell 6

Section 8-5A Opening Round games

Sartell at Brainerd

St. Cloud Apollo at Moorhead

Team Stats


Rushing: 1,367 yards.

Passing: 39-104-11-769

Total Offense: 2,136 yards.


Rushing: 1,513 yards

Passing: 49-99-2-991

Total Offense: 2,504 yards

Brainerd vs. Sartell

When: 7 p.m.

Where: Dom Adamson Field

Early season result: Brainerd won 30-26 Week Six Oct. 4.

The series: Brainerd leads 18-6

Twitter: @the_rad34

Radio: KLIZ-AM (1380)

Web Stream:

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