For the third time in the team’s four-year history, the Brainerd Lumberjacks will play for a title.
The team is hoping for a repeat of history when it tackles the top-seeded Minnesota Sting 7 p.m. Saturday at Hamline University in St. Paul for the Midwest Premier League’s championship.
In its two previous championship games the Lumberjacks came away victorious. They were 55-14 winners in their inaugural season and then repeated as champions in 2010. Last year they fell in the semifinals to the Sting, who has beaten them three straight times, including both regular season games this year.
The Sting topped Brainerd 55-20 on June 16 and then defeated them 34-20 in the regular season final July 21.
“We have never lost to a team twice in a year so we are a little more hungry than usual,” said Lumberjacks head coach J.J. Kern. “It’s the championship game so we’ll have all of our people at the game. Everyone is making the commitment to be there. We’ve had guys miss games here and there so we’ll be stronger talent and depth wise this time around. Having all of our guys really helps, especially on special teams.
“The last time we played them, it was really a play here or there away from going our way.”
The third-seeded Lumberjacks upset second-seeded Twin City Titans 21-13 July 28 to advance to the playoffs. The Sting stung the Granite City Renegades 49-0.
One area of concern will be the health of star receiver Ra Ra Jones. Kern said Jones will be a game time decision. Jones is the only health concern the Lumberjacks have.
Despite the possible loss of its top target, Kern said they want to spread Sting defense out and attack through the air. He said that coupled with a tough defense could be the difference.
“I know my guys are going to come and play hard,” said Kern. “We will bring a championship back home. I don’t know of any other team that has the confidence of our team, even with knowing that we have lost to this team twice. There isn’t a single guy on our team that has a doubt that we can’t beat these guys. There is no quit or lack of confidence on this team.”