The Brainerd Warriors were unbeaten when they bumped into the Moorhead Spuds in the final game of the 2001 regular season.
Brainerd, decimated by injuries to three starters in the first half, dropped a 39-21 decision, denying the Warriors' bid for their first unbeaten regular season since 1938.
At 7 p.m. Friday at Adamson Field, the teams take another crack at each other. Brainerd, ranked ninth in Class 5A, is 2-0. Moorhead is 1-1 after losing to Cretin-Derham Hall, the state's top-ranked 5A team, 27-7 last week.
"Moorhead has excellent speed, both offensively and defensively," Warriors coach Ron Stolski said. "Last week I thought they played Cretin even, or maybe even had an edge. Turnovers really hurt them. They fumbled several times, and had some unfortunate penalties."
Spuds coach Steve Connelly believes last year's victory over Brainerd may provide an additional spark for his team.
"I think it's more of an incentive for us to go there and beat them on their home field," Connelly said. "Our kids are fired up, they're focused. They remember the big win last year.
"A lot of players on the team last year are still with us. They know Brainerd has been good the last several years. It's a positive for us to know we can go in and play with anybody."
Cretin built a 20-0 lead against Moorhead before the Spuds' David Cullom returned a kickoff 92 yards for a score. Moorhead then forced Cretin to punt and marched to the Raiders' 17 where the Spuds fumbled and Cretin recovered. The Raiders then drove 83 yards for the final score.
"We turned the ball over four times," Connelly said. "That was the difference, and we had 10 penalties.
"I was pretty happy with a lot of things we did, but we made too many mistakes. We drove the ball well. Nothing against (Cretin), but after leaving that game our kids think they can play with anybody. We were pretty disappointed."
Brainerd turned the ball over four times against then eighth-ranked Alexandria but forced the Cardinals to return the favor five times. The Warriors dominated the line of scrimmage, running 24 more plays than the Cardinals. Brainerd limited Alexandria to 177 yards while amassing 338.
Leading the defensive charge for Brainerd were linebacker Chad Weiss with 23 tackles, free safety Jake Phillips with 12 and linebacker Fred Weiss with 11.
Warriors quarterback Chris Klabo rushed for 141 yards and a touchdown, passed for another and averaged 45 yards on punts.
Connelly said the Warriors' offensive approach, which features the shotgun formation about half the time, presents a challenge.
"Obviously, it's something that's a little different than we're used to," Connelly said, "but a lot of teams are going to the Northwestern look. Brainerd still relies on the ground game. Their quarterback looks pretty decent on film, so it's just a different look, but it's kind of the same method to the madness.
"The big concern for us is to contain the quarterback. He likes to run. It should be interesting."
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