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Prep Football: Willmar Week 3 Preview

WARRIORS OVERVIEW: The Warriors lost their opener, at home, to Class 4A champion Rocori 48-28 but bounced back the next week to cut down 5A St. Cloud Tech 42-28 at the Tigers' walled arena -- so much for the Super 32 program being anything less than nasty again this fall. The Cardinals have just two wins over Stolski's soldiers in the past 20 years, the most recent in 2000. The Warriors, who have a junior-loaded backfield, seldom fail to exhibit speed, ball control and aggressive defense. Senior QB Luke Boran, operating from the shotgun, has thrown for 3 tds and 1 int in 39 attempts, plus running for 83 yards. He'll dish the ball to juniors Logan Davis (40 carries-157 yards-1 td) and Conor Gessell (20-137-2). Especially hard for opposing defenses, is the Brainerd whirlwind counter. Cole Smith leads receivers with 10 catches. "They're athletic and their linebackers cover a lot of ground," observes Jon Konold, Willmar's fourth-year head coach. "They'll bring a lot of pressure on our quarterback and they always have good running backs."

CARDINALS OVERVIEW: Coach Konold doesn't deny that the game in Fergus got away. The visitors were up 14-0 in the third quarter, which only seemed to get the Otters more stirred up. For the second week in a row they came from 2 tds down in the second half to win by one point. "After we got up 14-0, we didn't stop them on a couple of 3rd-and-longs and at 14-7 we didn't convert on a 3rd-and-2 at midfield. They also got us on a trick play [a halfback pass], and there were some long conversions on third down by them. We've had trouble defending the pass. We didn't get a lot of pressure on their quarterback the last quarter, either. It's something we've got to get better at. But give Fergus credit, they made the plays.'' Other than the outcome, including a flubbed extra-point attempt, there was a lot to like. Defensive back Tyler Stegeman got his second pick of the season and inside linebacker Zech Streed had a huge game with 14 stops. Sophomore RB Michael Heitzman busted a 75-yard scoring run for his second 100-yard game and QB Alex Grove threw for 179 yards employing 4 receivers, though 6-foot-5 Austin Rambow is the clear go-to with 17 snags for 166 yards in two games. Total yardage was 371, which is 48 more than the first week, a 40-19 win over Buffalo. Look for WR Patrick Courtney to start at cornerback and Hunter Mottinger to see more action in secondary.

FRIDAY AT THE STADIUM: This is Cardinals Senior Night and at half, Youth Football Night. Also, Tackle Cancer-Randy Shaver promotion: Free-will donations accepted at gate for the broadcaster's foundation with 95 percent of funds raised going into research.

-- Rand Middleton