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High School Football: Warriors look for upset in Class 6A playoffs

Brainerd at Minnetonka in the Class 6A Playoffs

101021.S.BD.BrainerdHomecoming3 Klang2.jpg
Brainerd's Jed Klang catches the ball against Rogers Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, during the Brainerd homecoming game. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

For the first time since 2012, the Brainerd Warriors are in the Class 6A playoffs.

The format of the Class 6A playoffs has changed since 2012 with the matchups being a random draw after each section seeds itself.

Brainerd (4-4) earned the No. 6 seed in Section 5 and the random draw announced the Warriors will travel to play the Minnetonka Skippers (7-1) which earned the No. 3 seed in Section 6.

It is a bit unlucky for the Warriors to get Minnetonka in the random draw as they are the strongest of the No. 3 seeds by the quality results formula. The other No. 3 seeds in the other sections all have the same 4-4 record as Brainerd.

“You just have to focus on ourselves,” Warriors head coach Jason Freed said. “We understand that we are going against a really good Minnetonka football team. Minnetonka has a great tradition and history and we know that we are going to face a team that has a very dynamic offense and a very good defense.”

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Freed said one of the messages he’s had for his player in this week's preparation is Brainerd has surprised metro teams before.

“We have a lot of stories and memories in our program of times where Brainerd has had both successes and failures,” Freed said. “I think giving the kids the opportunity to hear about those situations and talk about the preparations and everything that went into planning those games and being able to play within those games and be successful in those games.”

The Skippers strength is on the defensive side. Minnetonka’s defense has allowed 13 points per game and have kept opponents to under 100 yards rushing per game.

Evan Swenson is a part of Minnetonka’s swarming secondary and leads the team with six interceptions, including a pick-six. Linebacker William Richman leads the Skippers in tackles with 89 and eight tackles for loss.

“Defensively they are very diverse in what they do and show a lot of different fronts,” Freed said. “They are very athletic on the linebacker and secondary levels, so for us it’s going to be about as much as we can keep them off balance and attack them in many ways and not let them get comfortable.”

Will Martin quarterbacks the Skippers offense and has thrown for 1,114 yards and 15 touchdowns in the regular season with just two interceptions. The passing attack has three different receivers with over 300 receiving yards.

Minnetonka’s running attack is led by Jacob McCalla who has rushed for 545 yards and five touchdowns on 117 carries.

“We need this game to be not necessarily a low-scoring game but a manageable game,” Freed said. “For us, we need to step things up on defense. I think it’s a good offense. They are multi-dimensional in their passing game which is something we haven’t seen a whole lot of. Their running game isn’t overly complex but they are good at what they do. They are going to run the inside, outside zone and run a little counter game and they are good at it. We just need to be disciplined on defense and tackle really well in space.”

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The Warriors are coming off a 42-13 win over Buffalo in the last game of the regular season. Brainerd outscored the Bison 21-0 in the second half which Freed called the best half of football the Warriors have played all season.

“I stand by what I said after the game,” Freed said. “Obviously, it’s the old saying that you want to play your best football at the end of the season and hopefully that second half to Buffalo is a precursor to us playing our best football of the year. We are getting better and cleaning some things and playing better on the offensive side of the ball and staying consistent on defense.”

Most of all, Freed said his team has nothing to lose headed into the Class 6A playoffs.

“We are going against the second biggest high school in the state of Minnesota and we are the 32nd and all the things that go with outstate playing metro and yeah we are definitely going to play that underdog card,” Freed said. “Our kids embrace that and that’s who we are in all our sports. We are one of the bigger schools, but we are also an outstate school and we are just different in that sense.”

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

Brainerd Warriors (4-4)
Offense
QB: 7-Marcello Getty, 15-Eli Hoelz
RB: 22-Nathaniel Staehling, 20-Daimen Bentho, 28-Jesse Rodman
WR: 2-Jed Klang, 8-Matt Huesmann, 11-Ethan Windorski, 14-Reece Isle, 16-Sam Spieker, 15-Eli Hoelz
TE: 84-Mitchell Degen, 86-Caleb Lange, 80-Henry Hopkins
OL: 60-Dominik Waytashek, 57-Carter Springer, 66-Caden Jager, 67-Jacob Borgstrom, 73-Dalton Barrett, 76-Elijah Hanson, 51-Josh Albright, 68-Mason Callstrom, 71-Kolbie Bernu
Defense
DL: 53-Grant Gardiepy, 54-Riley DeRosier, 89-Jack Schafer, 5-Eli Wiskow, 56-Mitchell Wind, 50-Rhyen Buckmaster
LB: 17-Jacob Holm, 25-Cam Langerman, 52-Brady Toensing, 42-Dylan Gross, 21-Conner Erickson
DB: 31-Ethan Derosier, 22-Nathaniel Staehling, 23-Dillon MacLaughlin, 82-Ethan Olson, 30-Kouper Seidel, 27-Dawon Piepho, 35-Brandon Stark, 26-Gaven Schwen, 43-Izayah Schultz, 38-Aiden Sills, 36-Daric Caughey, 31-Nathan Herkenhoff
Special Teams
K: 18-Ryan Westerberg, 88-Andrew Albright
P: 22-Nathaniel Staehling, 2-Jed Klang
Long Snapper: 84-Mitchell Degen, 8-Matt Huesmann
Holder: 22-Nathaniel Staehling

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Minnetonka Skippers (7-1)
Offense
QB: 4-Will Martin
RB: 31-Jacob McCalla, 26-Bret Worley
WR/TE: 5-Cade Conzemius, 6-Tyler Lien, 7-Joseph Gendreau
Defense
DL: 41-Andrew McCalla, 49-Joseph McBain, 73-Julius Nurse, 2-Aiden Boehle, 9-Seth Bell, 10-Andrew Dill
LB: 11-William Richman, 26-Bret Worley
DB: 13-Ashton Hoffman, 18-Evan Swenson, 35-Prentice Wheatley, 28-Cosmo Guion
Special Teams
K: 85-Keagan Zabilla
P: 85-Keagan Zabilla
Returners: 18-Evan Swenson, 6-Tyler Lien, 11-William Richman

Warriors Schedule
Regular Season
Aug. 27, hosts Coon Rapids — won 21-6
Sept. 2, at Andover 7 p.m. — lost 49-14
Sept. 10, hosts Moorhead 7 p.m. — lost 28-18
Sept. 17, at Sartell 7 p.m. — won 35-6
Sept. 24, at Bemidji 7 p.m. — lost 19-6
Oct. 1, hosts Alexandria 7 p.m. — won 27-24 OT
Oct. 8, hosts Rogers 7 p.m. — lost 38-7
Oct. 20, at Buffalo 7 p.m. — won 42-13
Class 6A Playoffs
Oct. 29: at Minnetonka 7 p.m.
Nov. 5: Round Two of Class 6A Playoffs
Nov. 11-13: Class 6A Quarterfinals
Nov. 18-20: Class 6A Semifinals
Nov. 26-27: Class 6A Finals

North Central Red Subdistrict
Subdistrict Records
Moorhead 5-2 (3-0), Bemidji 4-3 (2-1), Brainerd 4-4 (2-2), Alexandria 3-5 (2-2), Sartell 1-7 (0-4)
Week Eight results
Brainerd 42, Buffalo 13
Bemidji 28, Sartell 12
Rogers 23, Moorhead 7
Alexandria 35, St. Cloud Tech 6

Team Stats
Brainerd
Rushing: 267-842
Passing: 72-152-910
Total Offense: 419-1,752
Opponents
Rushing: 293-1,059
Passing: 76-169-1,015
Total Offense: 362-2,074

Class 6A Playoffs

Who: Brainerd at Minnetonka

When: 7 p.m.

Where: at Minnetonka High School

Last result: Never played

Twitter: @the_rad34

Radio: KLIZ-AM (1380)

Web Stream: www.kliz.com.

Related Topics: FOOTBALLLOCAL SPORTS
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