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High School Football: Warriors get the win in home opener

Brainerd hosts Coon Rapids in Week Zero action Friday, Aug. 27

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Jack Schafer, left, Camden Langerman, Jacob Holm, Grant Gardiepy and Nate Herkenhoff from the Brainerd defense takes down Coon Rapids running back David Geebli Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, at Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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Whatever nerves junior Marcello Getty had going into his first start as Brainerd’s quarterback he didn’t show them Friday, Aug. 27.

Aided by a strong running game, Getty threw for 98 yards and two touchdowns as the Warriors walked away with a 21-6 win over the Coon Rapids Cardinals in a Week Zero Class 6A matchup.

Getty’s favorite target was senior Matthew Huesmann who caught both touchdowns, one for 38 yards and one for 36 yards. Huesmann finished with 3 catches for 84 yards.

“Those two touchdown bombs were really good and exciting,” Getty said, who admitted he was a little nervous entering the game.

Brandon Stark intercepted Coon Rapids with 1:35 left to seal the game for Brainerd. The Warriors forced four Coon Rapids turnovers in the win.

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Brainerd Football vs Coon Rapids gallery

“What impressed me about the turnovers was that they came at times when they had momentum and we stopped them,” Warriors head coach Jason Freed said. “We always talk about putting the fire out and that’s what turnovers are about.”

Trailing 7-0 at half, Coon Rapids took the ball on the second-half kickoff and put together a seven-play, 66-yard touchdown drive capped off by a David Geebli 8-yard run.

The Cardinals switched quarterbacks at halftime from Griffin Thom to Josh Dubois.

Coon Rapids missed the extra point so Brainerd still led by one.

Nathaniel Staehling lost a fumble on Brainerd’s first possession of the second half. The Warriors picked him up as Nate Herkenhoff intercepted Dubois in Cardinal territory. Staehling then redeemed himself with three rushes for 19 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown to extend Brainerd’s lead to 14-6.

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“You know we were hyped from the beginning,” Staehling said. “I have never seen so much energy in my life and we really played as one. We were communicating well and everyone was playing their role.”

Staelhing finished with 82 yards rushing on 16 carries. Damien Bentho wasn’t far behind Staehling in the rushing category with 78 yards on 15 carries.

“It all starts up front,” Freed said. “The offensive line did a great job. We missed some blocks which is going to happen in the first game, but both running backs ran super hard and that impressed me a lot. And it’s nice to have two guys to be able to rest one another and help each other out. We just got to keep building and it starts with boys upfront.”

The Warriors extended their lead in the fourth quarter when Huesmann caught his second touchdown pass from Getty. The 36-yard touchdown pass extended the Warriors' lead to 21-6.

“What impressed me about Getty was he was very composed,” Freed said. “Not much rattles him and for a young man who came out for his first varsity start, he was composed. Obviously, made some mistakes, but he came back and rebounded and that tells me a lot about him.”

After a scoreless first quarter, Brainerd’s drive with under two minutes left in the first half finally produced points.

The drive started with a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty to put the Warriors in Cardinal territory. The next play Getty connected with Huesmann for a 38-yard touchdown pass for the game’s first score.

Huesmann could’ve had a third touchdown but could not haul in what would’ve been a 34-yard touchdown pass on Brainerd’s second drive of the game.

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“Matt is one of our emotional leaders and what impressed me about Matt is he came back and rebounded after dropping a big one,” Freed said.

The first quarter featured both teams exchanging turnovers with Brainerd recovering a Coon Rapids fumble and the Cardinals intercepting Getty.

Penalties were one of Coon Rapids’ Achilles heels in the first half as they committed six for 49 yards.

Brainerd entered Coon Rapids’ red zone just once in the first half.

“We were able to face adversity well tonight,” Freed said. “We settled ourselves and got the win.”

Coon Rapids 0 0 6 0 — 6
Brainerd 0 7 7 7 — 21

Second quarter
Brd-Matt Huesmann 38-yard pass from Marcello Getty (Ryan Westerberg kick) 1:29
Third quarter
CR-David Geebli 8-yard rush (kick no good) 9:30
Brd-Nathaniel Staehling 5-yard rush (Westerberg kick) 6:05
Fourth quarter
Brd-Huesmann 36-yard pass from Getty (Andrew Albright kick) 10:47

Team statistics
Rushes-yards: Brd 41-178, CR 32-81
Pass comp-att-int-yds: Brd 4-13-1-98, CR 14-27-178
Total offense: Brd 54-276, CR 59-259

Individual leaders
Rushing: Brd-Nathaniel Staehling 16-82, Damien Bentho 15-78, Jed Klang 2-21, Eli Hoelz 2-15, Marcello Getty 6-(-18); CR-David Geebli 17-50, Josh Dubois 11-37, Griffin Thom 4-(-6)
Passing: Brd-Marcello Getty 4-13-98; CR-Josh Dubois 8-15-107, Griffin Thom 6-12-71
Receiving: Brd-Matthew Huesmann 3-84, Mitchell Degen 1-14; CR-Jerid Fearing 3-62, Khi-Johnn Cummings-Coleman 3-44, Dominick Oelmann 4-42, David Geebli 2-15, Lofton O’Groske 1-10, Darius Ulen 1-5

Brainerd 21, Coon Rapids 6

Key: Matthew Huesmann and Marcello Getty connect for two long touchdowns as Brainerd walks away with a win

Overall: Brd 1-0, CR 0-1.

Next: Brainerd at Andover 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 2.

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or conrad.engstrom@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.

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Andrew Albright, center left, and Matthew Huesmann, center right, celebrate Huesmann's touchdown against Coon Rapids Friday, Aug. 27, 2021, at Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

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