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High School Football: Warriors hope to go unbeaten in subdistrict Friday against Alex

Brainerd at Alexandria Preview for Friday, Sept. 30

Brainerd against Bemidji on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, at Brainerd.
Brainerd's defense celebrates a positive play against Bemidji on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022, at Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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The Brainerd Warriors have a chance to go undefeated in the subdistrict Friday, Sept. 30.

A week after beating Bemidji for the first time in five years, Brainerd (3-2) travels to Alexandria (1-3) with a chance to go 4-0 in the North Central Red Subdistrict.

“We talked about it as a team and how it’s an opportunity in front of us,” Warriors head coach Jason Freed said. “It’s always good to have an extra incentive in terms of your preparation and we don’t want that to be our sole purpose, but it helps our kids to put things in perspective. It’s a goal that’s obtainable and we have to just go out and make that goal happen.”

Last season, it took overtime for the Warriors to beat the Cardinals 27-24.

In the win against Bemidji, the Warriors rode the back of Damien Bentho, who carried the ball 44 times for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Freed said the rain and how hot Bentho was factored into him getting 44 carries.

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“The nature of the game led to that with how well we were moving the ball and how well Damien was running the ball,” Freed said. “On a night with better conditions, I think we will be more balanced in the run and pass. And just by being more balanced alone, you will offset those carries. But we need to keep our running backs fresh and I thought Sean Holbrook went in and had three very nice carries and helped us get a couple of first downs. We want to keep Damien fresh, but sometimes we have to lean on our workhorse and that’s what we did.”

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Brainerd will look to be more balanced against Alexandria. The Cardinals are coming off a 34-14 loss to Moorhead last week.

“Our biggest thing this season has been continually improving all year long,” Alexandria head coach Mike Empting said. “That continues to be our focus. Brainerd looks like a good club. They had a nice come-from-behind win against Moorhead and really played a great fourth quarter to get the win. They are playing good football and we have a lot of guys that don’t have varsity football experience.”

Empting hopes to slow down Bentho and the Warriors’ running attack.

“The quarterback is also a capable runner and a good thrower of the football,” Empting said.

Linebackers Bryr Homelvig and Jacob Lanoux as well as defensive end Sawyer Rumohr are players Empting said his team relies on to stop opposing offenses.

“We are very veteran up the middle on our defensive side and are really concentrating on neutralizing that running game,” Empting said.

Freed said the Cardinals front four is like Moorhead’s, so they’ll look to attack it similarly.

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“We will have to get dialed back in on our rules in terms of our run game, but they seem to have a solid defensive line that stands out on film, so we need to obviously prepare for that,” Freed said. “Alex is always a well coached team and they are going to play good football. We are going to have to bring our ‘A’ game.”

Quarterback Chase Thompson and wide receiver Kelly Johnson highlight the offensive side of the ball for the Cardinals.

“They are kind of our guys on that side of the ball,” Empting said. “We’ve struggled a little bit to run the ball, so we’ve relied on the passing game. We are trying to improve on running the football and it’s our goal every week to establish the run to make our passing game more effective. That’s our mantra headed into this week as well.”

Last week, the Warriors held Bemidji to just 129 yards of offense. The lowest of the season for Brainerd. Dylan Gross finished with 18 tackles, including three tackles for loss. Eli Wiskow added nine tackles, three tackles for loss and a sack.

“I think this week we need to try and do the same thing,” Freed said. “Alex will try and present themselves as a dual threat — especially in the passing game. They have some very good skill position players and they run some very good route concepts. We are going to have to be very disciplined in the secondary and we have to get a pass rush.”

The Warriors have a three-game win streak and Freed credits the complimentary football his team has played during the streak.

“It’s a sign of the kids understanding the game,” Freed said. “We talk about coming together as a team and we’ve had a lot of adversity this year and that’s what I’ve been very proud of with this team. Our seniors have come together and have taken on that leadership role. And all of our upperclassmen have taken on the mantra of next man up or next play because there are going to be times where adversity hits and it’s cool to see the team come together in a game. So much of football is the mental piece and that’s the unique thing about it.”

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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Brainerd Warriors (3-2)

Offense

QB: 7-Marcello Getty

RB: 20-Damien Bentho, 18-Sean Holbrook

WR: 2-Eli Hoelz, 10-Nolan Johnson, 14-Reece Isle, 23-Dillon MacLaughlin, 81-Jake Merseth

TE: 86-Dilan Sypnieski

OL: 50-Rhyen Buckmaster, 53-Josh Albright, 56-Mitchell Wind, 56-Waylon Larson, 71-Caleb Lange, 75-Kolbie Bernu

Defense

DL: 5-Eli Wiskow, 71-Caleb Lange, 56-Mitchell Wind

LB: 42-Dylan Gross, 41-Ryan Kennedy, 33-Derron Tumpkin

CB: 11-Brandon Stark, 12-Landon Severson, 17-John Hagen, 23-Dillon MacLaughlinS: 9-Kade Stengrim, 18-Sean Holbrook

Special Teams

K: 24-Bennett Bernander

Returners: 2-Eli Hoelz, 20-Damien Bentho

Alexandria Cardinals (1-3)

Offense

QB: 12-Chase Thompson

RB: 23-Walker Hennen, 28-Andrew Flaten

WR: 10-Kelly Johnson, 8-Kadyn Weber, 3-Jaxon Schoenrock, 5-Mason Gorghuber, 7-Evan Kludt, 2-Hunter Athey, 11-Drew Gundberg, 1-Brayden Staples

OL: 70-Sawyer Rumohr, 54-Dylan Gray, 65-Joseph Martinson, 66-Landon Raths, 55-Thadeous Anderson

Defense

DL: 70-Sawyer Rumohr, 56-Gavryn Fernholz, 57-Ashton Sayre, 60-Jordan Nicholson

LB: 35-Bryr Homelvig, 33-Jacob Lanoux, 4-Macklen Heydt, 1-Brayden Staples

DB: 7-Evan Kludt, 3-Jaxon Schoenrock, 10-Kelly Johnson

Warriors Schedule

Regular Season

Aug. 26, at Coon Rapids — Lost 21-20

Sept. 2, hosts Andover — Lost 52-14

Sept. 9, at Moorhead — Won 27-10

Sept. 16, hosts Sartell — Won 34-14

Sept. 23, hosts Bemidji — Won 19-7

Sept. 30, at Alexandria 7 p.m.

Oct. 7, at Rogers 7 p.m.

Oct. 19, hosts Buffalo 7 p.m.

Class 6A Playoffs

Oct. 28: Round One of Class 6A Playoffs

Nov. 4: Round Two of Class 6A Playoffs

Nov. 10-12: Class 6A Quarterfinals

Nov. 17-19: Class 6A Semifinals

Dec. 2: Class 6A Finals

North Central Red Subdistrict

Subdistrict Records

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

Week Five Schedule

Brainerd at Alexandria

Sartell at Moorhead

Sauk Rapids at Bemidji

Week Four Results

Brainerd 19, Bemidji 7

Moorhead 34, Alexandria 14

Willmar 14, Sartell 6

Team Stats

Brainerd

Rushing: 214-1,019

Passing: 37-64-410

Total Offense: 278-1,429

Opponents

Rushing: 153-465

Passing: 93-156-1,334

Total Offense: 309-1,797

Brainerd at Alexandria
When: 7 p.m.
Where: at Alexandria High School
Series: Brainerd leads 40-24
Last result: Brainerd won 27-24 in OT in 2021
Twitter: @the_rad34
Radio: KLIZ-AM (1380)
Web Stream: www.kliz.com.

Started at the Dispatch in June of 2019.
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