High School Football: Warriors hope for better game against Bemidji
Brainerd hopes and expects to play better for “Babe’s Bell” Friday, Sept. 6, against the Bemidji Lumberjacks.
The Warriors saw nothing go right for them in their opener against Elk River. They watched the Elks run for 563 yards in route to a 57-0 defeat -- one of head coach Ron Stolski’s worst losses in his 58 year career.
Nevertheless, as the Warriors gear up to play Bemidji for the 72th time, they want to not dwell on the Elk River score. It's a clean slate for the Warriors as they prepare for Bemidji, an opponent Stolski and his staff are familiar with.
“We’ve had really good games with them over the years,” Stolski said of Bemidji. “We expect to play better and I believe our team expects to play better.”
Bemidji comes off a 28-27 Week One win over Andover. The Lumberjacks scored a game-winning touchdown off a pass to tight end Gavin Luksik to secure the victory.
“It was a very close football game,” Bemidji coach Troy Hendricks said of his team’s win against Andover. “We were fortunate enough to come out on top. We have a veteran staff so I don’t think we will be worried about each win or loss, but just focused on getting better each week.”
The Lumberjacks’ junior running back Will Falldorf scored three touchdowns in the win and will be a focal point for Bemidji’s offense.
“Will has talent,” Hendricks. “We will see if he can get better week in and week out. He’s got a lot more that he can show each and every game.”
Stolski mentioned Falldorf will be a key player for the Warriors’ defense.
“He’s good,” Stolski said. “He’s just a junior and he was good last year. Their front and their linebackers are all back as well and they are nasty.”
The rivalry between Bemidji and Brainerd has grown recently. Last year, they added “Babe’s Bell” to the mix. The winner Friday night will get to control the 75-pound cowbell for their own. It’s a trophy that Stolski said he hasn’t put much emphasis on, but both Hendricks and Stolski think it’s fun to have.
“The last six or seven games it’s gone down to the last series,” Hendrick said of playing Brainerd. “I don’t anticipate much to change -- very tight and contested football games and the atmosphere should be great.”
Brainerd starts their schedule with two top 10 teams according to The Associated Press football polls on the road. Elk River is No. 3 and Bemidji is No. 7 in the Class 5A poll. North Central Red Subdistrict rival Alexandria finds itself at No. 4 after their 56-20 win over Buffalo.
Stolski stresses that even though the schedule is tough and his roster might be inexperienced, it does not excuse losses. He expects to win every week.
“These are two tough road games to start,” Stolski said. “You’d like to start at home where you are more comfortable, but it’s the way the schedule is and here we go.”
Brainerd looks to get wideout Owen Davis more involved in the game Friday night. He and sophomore quarterback Nate Staehling hooked up twice against Elk River for 47 yards, including a long 34-yard completion in the first quarter.
The Warriors only threw nine passes against the Elks a number they would like higher in future games. Davis should get most of the targets when Staehling does drop back and throw.
“We are not a drop back team,” Stolski said. “But (Nate Staehling) is going to get better and better at reading the option. We have to feature Davis.”
Brainerd ran for over 200 yards against Elk River and they hope they can continue to work the perimeter against Bemidji. Stolski thinks once Nate Staehling gets more comfortable as quarterback he will be a threat in the passing game and running game.
“Our backs will be fine,” Stolski said of his running game.
On defense Stolski stressed assignment football again. Although Bemidji plays a more traditional offense than Elk River, they are still an option team that can give Brainerd fits if they blow assignments.
“The kids know we had too many missed assignments (against Elk River),” Stolski said. “Bemidji is a good option team and they will require us to play good assignment football, but it’s not as cluttered (as Elk River).
“We’ve played Bemidji enough and they’ll make good adjustments to what we try to do and we’ve made good adjustments to what they try and do. Looking forward to the matchup.”
Brainerd at Bemidji
When: 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6
Where: Chet Anderson Stadium, Bemidji
2018 results: Bemidji won 12-7 in regular season and 25-22 in Section 8-5A final.
The series: Brainerd leads 39-32
Radio: KLIZ-AM (1380)
Web Stream: www.kliz.com.
Brainerd Warriors (0-1)
QB: 16-Nate Staehling.
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 McClain.
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-Sevien Thompson-Fly, 78-Nick Moline, 79-Chandlier DeRosier, 99-Jon Berry.
LB: 17-Jacob Drietz, 26-Davon Stuckey, 28-Jacob McLain, 40-Forrest Gibson.
CB: 2-Joey Wiskow, 10-Harry Carlson, 21-Brandt Patton.
SS: 20-Kayden Schoppner, 22-Ben Staehling.
FS: 23-Ben Davis.
K: 88-Andrew Albright.
P: 23-Ben Davis.
Bemidji Lumberjacks (1-0)
QB: 12-Brett Tharaldson
RB: 20-Will Faldorf, 34-Nick Snell
WR: 14-Matt Arel, 88-Colton Jenson, 2-Isaiah Reed, 16-Jacob Kelly, 24-James Williams
TE: 44-Gavin Luksik
LT: 67-Tyler Simon, 64-Dylan Black
LG: 72-Noah Klinke
C: 54-Tom Naig
RG: 51-Sam Pfremmer, 52-Mason Bitker
RT: 56-Ryan Turner, 55-Freddie Petrowski
LE: 9-Isaiah Rintalla
NG: 59-Chase Smith, 69-Jack Twelvetrees
RE: 50-Javian Boykin
LB: 21-Ryan Yang, 5-Reid Colley, 41-Justin Nelson, 32-Gabe Schwarzlander, 25-Colton Hinrichs, 44-Gavin Luksik
CB: 6-Isaiah Biehn, 13-Brandon Lussier, 8-Caelob Staples
S: 22-Caden Bolte, 34-Nick Snell, 2-Isaiah Reed, 7-Vinny Tesch
K: 38-Grant DeClusin
P: 7-Vinny Tesch
Aug. 29, at Elk River -- Lost 57-0
Friday, Sept. 6, at Bemidji 7 p.m.
Sept. 13, hosts Sauk Rapids-Rice 7 p.m.
Sept. 20, hosts Moorhead 7 p.m.
Sept. 27, at Alexandria 7 p.m.
Oct. 4, hosts Sartell 7 p.m.
Oct. 11, hosts Rocori 7 p.m.
Oct. 16, at St. Cloud Tech 7 p.m.
Section 8-5A Playoffs
Oct. 22: Quarterfinals.
Oct. 26: Semifinals.
Nov. 1: Finals.
North Central Red Subdistrict
Alexandria 1-0, Bemidji 1-0, Moorhead 1-0, Brainerd 0-1, St. Cloud Tech 0-1, Sauk Rapids 0-1, Sartell 0-1
Week One Results
Elk River 57, Brainerd 0
Alexandria 56, Buffalo 20
Bemidji 28, Andover 27
Moorhead 37, Rogers 24
Hutchinson 28, St. Cloud Tech 21
Chisago Lakes 38, Sartell 8
Delano 31, Sauk Rapids 24
Friday, Sept. 6, Games 7 p.m.
Brainerd at Bemidji
Alexandria at Moorhead
Sartell at Sauk Rapids
St. Cloud Apollo at St. Cloud Tech