High School Football: Warriors hope to maintain homecoming advantage

Homecoming has proven to be a lopsided home-field advantage for the Brainerd Warriors. In the 2000s, Brainerd is 16-2 in its homecoming games. Its only losses during that span include a 59-45 shootout against Alexandria in 2016 and a 31-20 setbac...

Captain Pat Gervenak helps his Brainerd Warrior teammates get fired up before a game this season. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
Captain Pat Gervenak helps his Brainerd Warrior teammates get fired up before a game this season. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch


Homecoming has proven to be a lopsided home-field advantage for the Brainerd Warriors.

In the 2000s, Brainerd is 16-2 in its homecoming games. Its only losses during that span include a 59-45 shootout against Alexandria in 2016 and a 31-20 setback against St. Michael-Albertville in 2012.

Warriors coach Ron Stolski hopes the tradition of homecoming victories continues at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, when Brainerd entertains the Becker Bulldogs at Adamson Field.

"Traditionally we have huge crowds on Saturdays," Stolski said, "and one of the reasons we went to Saturday many years ago (2007) is to make it easier for alumni to come back and we've seen that proven true. You will see people typically that aren't able to get to games.


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Becker at Brainerd

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"One thing we did emphasize this week is focus because there are a lot of activities that are a part of homecoming week. We want our kids to be involved in as many of those as they see fit but at the same time homecoming culminates with a Saturday football game."

In addition to homecoming, the game features a pair of 300-game winners. Stolski is No. 2 all time in Minnesota State High School League football with 382 wins, while Becker's Dwight Lundeen is third with 357. Lundeen considers it a privilege to play against a winning program in a nice stadium on a Saturday afternoon when is forecasting 41 degrees at kickoff.

"We're just embracing it and saying what a neat experience that we can go and travel up there," Lundeen said. "We're going out to eat afterward at Pizza Ranch. We're making it kind of a celebration.

"Hopefully we can give Brainerd a good game. There will probably be about 5,000 people watching. That's exciting-the band's playing-and all the hoopla that goes along with Brainerd homecoming. I went up there last year and watched that. I was very impressed. We feel honored to be part of that. We're looking forward to it. We get an extra day of practice, which any coach loves to have."

Stolski won't argue with having an extra practice. He believes the first five teams Brainerd has played (Buffalo, St. Cloud Tech, Alexandria, Sauk Rapids and Bemidji) are among the most competitive and physical to start a season.


"So we make no apologies about our record," he said of Brainerd's 2-3 mark. "We know this much-every team in our section has at least one loss. So like always we're in the one-game-at-a-time mode, especially after a disappointing loss (12-7) after a heck of an effort at Bemidji.

"Because of the physicality of the first five weeks of the season that extra day is helpful. Last week we played without (offensive lineman Nate) Bessingpas. (At Bemidji) Jason Jennette, a starting tackle, came off with a real gimpy ankle so coach (Chet) Stevenson was mixing and matching the best he could with the people we had available. It's no excuse but it's an indication of how physical the games have been. We also played without (noseguard) Nick Moline so even one day is extremely helpful."

Becker is also 2-3 following a 21-18 homecoming loss to Big Lake. The Bulldogs have lost two games by a combined five points. Their largest margin of defeat was 13 points against Hutchinson.

"In talking to one of my coaches (Tuesday, Oct. 2), we're probably three plays away from being 5-0 and we're probably a few plays away from being 0-5," Lundeen said. "We are quite young. We had to replace a number of seniors from last year but that's a normal thing at Becker. We'll have about 25-30 kids per class that come in and graduate so we're used to that."

Quarterback Josh Fobbe is a threatening part of the Bulldogs' offense. The junior and three-year starter has completed 58.7 percent of his passes (44-75) for 650 yards and 11 touchdowns. His favorite target is Kevyn Vilayphanh, who has 19 receptions for 416 yards and seven scores.

Nicholas Goth is the leading rusher with 396 yards and three TDs. Kevin Andres has added 309 yards and two scores.

"Josh has done a nice job for us for a couple years," Lundeen said. "That's helped us move along a little quicker than maybe some other years. We're still not playing real well at some positions that kids need that Friday night experience to do so. They play pretty good on Mondays and Thursdays but it's little different story on Fridays.

"We are optimistic. We think we're getting better each week. We're hoping to hang in there and stay healthy and keep improving."


Brainerd Warriors (2-3)

OFFENSE QB: 7-Sam Miller, 23-Owen Davis

RB: 25-Joe Klang, 22-Ben Staehling, 26-Davon Stuckey, 2-Braden Kramer, 21-Bryson Bassett, 5-Taylor Ludwig

WR: 8-Pat Gervenak, 35-Levi McDonald, 24-Gabe Smith, 23-Owen Davis, 43-Harry Carlson, 10-Brett Besenfelder, 36-Jon Nelson, 84-Renzen Caughey

T: 66-Jason Jennette, 64-Cameron Olson, 75-Brady Seidl

G: 60-Isaac Chappuis, 57-Garret Gardiepy, 64-Cameron Olson, 56-Nate Bessingpas

C: 53-Brett Hague, 60-Isaac Chappius



T: 45-Morgan Gibson, 57-Garret Gardiepy, 66-Jason Jennette, 71-John Berry, 90-Mannie Uketegbe, 67-Logan Thede

NG: 78-Nick Moline, 95-Elias Lies, 93-Isaac Winter, 58-Fletcher DeRosier

OLB: 5-Taylor Ludwig, 2-Braden Kramer, 28-Josh McLain, 30-Tom Fickett

ILB: 17-Jacob Drietz, 40-Forrest Gibson, 28-Josh McLain, 55-Simon Nelson

CB: 35-Levi McDonald, 15-Jack Olson, 44-Devlin Lamke, 31-John Barr, 47-Calvin Foss, 16-Joey Wiskow, 26-Davon Stuckey

SS: 8-Pat Gervenak, 22-Ben Staehling, 41-Mark Boran, 27-Devin Emslander, 32-Caleb Nagel

FS: 20-Brady Anderson, 23-Owen Davis



P: 25-Joe Klang, 23-Owen Davis

K: 81-Zach Henke

LS: 15-Jack Olson H: 7-Sam Miller Returns: 20-Brady Anderson, 26-Davon Stuckey, 22-Ben Staehling, 8-Pat Gervenak, 23-Owen Davis, 25-Joe Klang




QB: 3-Josh Fobbe

WB: 2-Justin Reichle

WB: 43-Kevin Andres

FB: 44-Nicholas Goth

E: 1-Nick Mittelstaedt

E: 12-Cade Callahan

G: 51-Lincoln Carlson

G: 52-Kaj Fritsch

T: 71-Kyle Goenner

T: 75-Brandon Gustafson

C: 77-Carter Gustafson


DL: 15-Samuel Ricker

DL: 54-Bryce Halvorson

DL: 74-Travis Voigt

LB: 11-Isaac Koop

LB: 18-Riley Morrell

LB: 20-Michael James

LB: 46-Brayden Weber

LB: 48-Teddy Halvorson

DB: 22-Joseph Berning

DB: 7-Austin Berning

DB: 10-Joseph James



P: 15-Samuel Ricker

PK: 50-Jacob Eich





Aug 31, at Buffalo - Lost 38-28

Sept 7, St. Cloud Tech at St. John's University - Lost 32-26

Sept 14, Alexandria - WON 36-7

Sept 21, Sauk Rapids - WON 34-14

Sept 28, at Bemidji - Lost 12-7

Saturday, Oct 6, Becker 2 p.m. (homecoming)

Friday, Oct 12, Moorhead 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Oct 17, at Sartell 7 p.m. Section 8-5A Playoffs

Tuesday, Oct 23, opening round

Saturday, Oct 27, semifinals

Friday, Nov 2, championship





St. Cloud Tech 4-0, Sauk Rapids 3-1, Bemidji 2-1, Brainerd 2-2, Alexandria 1-2, Sartell 0-3, Moorhead 0-4

Sept. 28 Results

Bemidji 12, Brainerd 7

Tech 21, Alexandria 14

Sauk Rapids 42, Sartell 13

Willmar 35, Moorhead 32

Friday, Oct. 5, Games 7 p.m.

Tech at Sauk Rapids

Alexandria at Bemidji

Sartell at Moorhead

Saturday, Oct. 6

Becker at Brainerd 2 p.m.





No. 13-Bemidji, 21-Brainerd, 32-Alexandria, 41-Moorhead, 43-Sartell


Bemidji 4-1, Brainerd 2-3, Alexandria 2-3, Moorhead 0-5, Sartell 0-5




Points per-game average: Brainerd 26.2, Opponents 20.6

Yards per game average: Brainerd 382.6, Opponents 396.2

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