Zach Cadwell missed the only field goal he attempted during the 2008 season.
It couldn't have been in a more pressure-packed situation as his 20-yard attempt against Buffalo sailed wide right in overtime in the Section 8-5A semifinals. Two plays later the Bison ended Brainerd's season with a 20-14 victory.
On Friday, the junior nailed his first attempt since then, a 21-yarder with 1:39 left to give the Warriors a 10-9 victory over the St. Cloud Tech Tigers in a classic matchup between archrivals at Adamson Field.
"I was really nervous, and it wasn't a very long one, but I still had to keep calm and make it," Cadwell said. "The snap and hold were both good. It was sailing a little left for a second there and I got scared."
There was no need for Cadwell to panic. His kick decided a game that featured four field goals and missed opportunities by both offenses. It was a defensive struggle between teams that early on are pinning their hopes on experienced defenses.
Brainerd wide receiver Kyle Crocker grabbed the ball from St. Cloud Tech defensive back Chris Hutton (22) to score the only touchdown of the game in Friday's season opener.
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Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
After Cadwell's kick, the Tigers made two first downs, advancing to the Brainerd 27 before a 5-yard penalty moved them back to the 32. Soccer player Dan Stoterau, who had accounted for all of Tech's points with field goals of 35, 39 and 33 yards, lined up for a 49-yarder but it was short and to the left.
"We've been very fortunate the last 10 years or so that our soccer team has been willing to work with us," Tech coach Gregg Martig said. "They work it into their schedule and allow their kids to come over (to football). And, our activities director has been good about trying to keep soccer games off Fridays.
"I have to give their kid credit, too. ... he walks out there and punches one through."
Pinpoint passing by quarterback Reid Mimmack helped the Warriors get into position for Cadwell's game-winner. The senior completed 6 of 8 passes in the final drive for 53 yards and four first downs as Brainerd moved from its 39 to the Tech 4. Kyle Crocker caught three passes in the march, and Jordan Hayes, Kevin Peterson and Tate Rusk each caught one.
Mimmack finished 16 of 21 (76 percent) for 204 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown pass to Crocker in the second quarter. Crocker totaled eight catches for 109 yards.
"I was very pleased with the opening game for Mimmack," Warriors coach Ron Stolski said. "Crocker, you learn to expect those kinds of things from him. And, you've got to remember, some of the throws Mimmack made to the others.
Let the cheering begin. The Brainerd Warrior football cheering section welcomed the players onto the field for their season opener against the St. Cloud Tech Tigers. The Warriors won the game 10-9.
Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls
"Our offensive line, for a very young line, played well. Defensively, we made the plays when we had to make them."
Brainerd's biggest play, other than the field goal, was the touchdown pass to Crocker. He leaped above the defender in front of him, wrestled the ball away, turned around and scored.
"I threw that ball a little bit short and Kyle made a great play to come over the top of the guy and got it for a touchdown," Mimmack said. "I was really happy with Kyle in that situation. It could easily have been an interception."
The Warriors finished with 304 total yards, but turned the ball over three times. They fumbled twice, once at the Tigers' 1, and had a pass intercepted.
Warriors 10, Tech 9
The key: Zach Cadwell kicked a 21-yard field goal with 1:39 remaining.
Conference: Brd 1-0, SCT 0-1
Overall: Brd 1-0, SCT 0-1
Next: Brainerd at Bemidji 7 p.m. Friday.
"I was very pleased with the resiliency of the kids and the effort," Stolski said. "I hate to use the word typical but it was a typical Tech-Brainerd game. I was really pleased with both sides of the ball. If we don't make those mistakes, the fumbles in particular ... we're happy enough."
St. Cloud Tech 3 3 0 3 - 9
Brainerd 0 7 0 3 - 10
SCT-Dan Stoterau 35 FG, 1:21
Brd-Kyle Crocker 29 pass from Reid Mimmack (Zach Cadwell kick) 11:46
SCT-Stoterau 39 FG, 7:55
SCT-Stoterau 33 FG, 10:49
Brd-Cadwell 21 FG, 1:39
First downs: Brd 15, SCT 13
Rushes-yards: Brd 31-100, SCT 45-228
Pass comp-att-int-yds: Brd 16-21-1-204, SCT 5-16-0-60
Total offense: Brd 304, SCT 288
Punts-avg: Brd 2-34.5, SCT 4-32.5
Return yards: Brd 53, SCT 88
Fumbles-lost: Brd 3-2, SCT 1-0
Penalties-yds lost: Brd 3-20, SCT 11-80
Rushing: Brd, Mimmack 1-4, Carsten Nelson 12-43, Jaron Hanson 2-1, Crocker 2-12, Jordan Hayes 4-4, Taylor Main 9-39; SCT, Dylan Johnson 14-71, Ryan Heaton 13-77
Passing: Brd, Mimmack 16-21-204; SCT, Alex Hanks 3-9-36, Trevor Nystrom 2-7-24
Receiving: Brd, Crocker 8-109, Mitch Bzdok 2-36, Tate Rusk 2-10, Hayes 2-19, Kevin Peterson 2-30; SCT, Kellan Euerle 2-28
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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