Cardinals fall to Brainerd
BRAINERD -- Some things don't change.
Year in and year out Brainerd is big, physical and deep -- too much for most of their Central Lakes foes, including Willmar.
The Blue Wave washed over the outnumbered Cardinals 31-7 on Friday night at Adamson Field.
Willmar has good numbers (62 dressing top three grades) but the Warriors put out 106, so like St. John's some players are wearing the same number.
It's a highly-respected prep program directed by legendary Ron Stolki, now in his 50th year as a head coach.
Both teams were rebuilt from the trenches up but Brainerd clearly had more to draw on.
Willmar didn't score until less than four minutes were left in the game. Quarterback Alex Grove fired a strike to Dean Stier for a 38-yard TD, the wide receivers seventh catch for 101 total yards.
Grove, who threw for 162 yards, played on despite hurting his arm in the second half and appearing to be in some pain. The junior was under heavy pressure all evening but completed 16 of 26 without an interception, to six different receivers.
Grove was unable to find running room as he did last week in a 14-0 win over Alexandria. Running back Alfred Richards busted for 67 yards in 14 totes against a quick and hefty Brainerd defense.
Mitchell McLain, the second-year Brainerd signal caller, was just as impressive as he was a year ago in Willmar when the Warriors won 32-18. He rushed for 108 yards and completed 7 of 9 passes for 70 yards, two for touchdowns in the first quarter. The second covered 55 yards to Riley Kline.
Willmar stood their ground on defense but Brainerd runs an efficient, machine-like attack that makes few errors and eventually breaks a play for big yardage, such as, the 49-yard scamper by Nick Welch to the Willmar one to set up the Warriors' third score.
Linebackers Zech Streed and Mitch Johannes had nine tackles each. Defensive back Chris Odens was in on 12 stops.
The Cardinals (1-1) return to Hodapp Field on Friday to entertain Rocori. The Spartans lost to Brainerd in their season opener.
Brainerd 31, Willmar 7
Willmar (1-0) 0 0 0 7 -- 7
Brainerd (1-0) 14 7 0 0 -- 31
Brd - Logan McAllister 4 pass from Mitchell McLain (Andrew Olson kick)
Brd - Riley Kline 55 pass from McLain (Olson kick)
Brd - Nick Welch 1 run (Olson Kick)
Brd - Olson 28 field goal
Brd - Conor Gessell 4 run (Olson kick)
Wil - Dean Stier 35 pass from Alex Grove (Kristian Suves kick)
First downs: 13 ... Rushing: 26-84 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 16-26-162-0 ... Fumbles lost: 0 ... Penalties: not available
Rushing: Alex Grove 5-14, Alfred Richards 14-67, Braydon Johnson 5-6 ... Passing: Grove ... Receiving: Stier 7-101, Richards 2-6, Jordan Geurtz 2-33, Chris Odens 3-21, Brandon Zuidema 1-(-1), Johnson 1-4 ... Punting: Zech Streed 3-35.4 ... Interceptions: none ... Fumble recoveries: none ... Tackles (solo-assist): Brandon Christianson 0-3, Cass Herzog 0-2, Anthony Wood 0-2, Matt Cordes 1-2, Bryce Enstad 1-4 (1 tackle for loss), Josh Kelly 2-4 (1 tfl), Mitch Johannes 5-4, Seth Pollock 4-3, Jason Gunvalson 0-2 Jordan Geurtz 1-1, Chris Odens 4-8, Zech Streed 3-6 (2 tfl), Chris Cunnnigham 0-2, Brandon Zuidema 3-0 ... QB sacks: none
First downs: 13 ... Rushing: 44-267 ... Passing (com-att-yds-int.): 7-9-70-0 ... Fumbles lost: 0 ... Penalties: not penalties
Rushing: Mitchell McLain 14-102, Connor Gessell 5-14, Nick Welch 13-115, Logan Davis 9-25, Luke Boran 2-14 ... Passing: McLain 7-9-70-0 ... Receiving: Riley Kline 1-55, Logan McAllister 1-4, Jimmy Giese 2-20 ...