Brainerd head coach Ron Stolski moved within one victory of the Minnesota State High School League record for football victories Friday.
The Warriors' 40-0 thumping of Willmar was the 306th of Stolski's career, one shy of the record held by retired Cambridge coach George Larson.
Verndale coach Mike Mahlen tied Larson on Friday when the Pirates beat Ashby 56-12.
Mahlen has a chance to become the record holder next Friday with a victory over Bertha-Hewitt. Stolski can tie Larson with a win Friday at Moorhead.
After its first two games were decided by a combined 10 points, Friday's blowout enabled many Warriors to play.
"We played every junior and senior, some quite extensively," Stolski said. "That's always a lot of fun. We're happy for the kids because they work hard in practice and they want to see some game time."
Department of defense
Brainerd surrendered just 228 yards, 49 in the second half. The Warriors had eight tackles for loss, including a quarterback sack by Cody Granley.
The Cardinals were stopped at the Brainerd 1 on the game's first drive. Willmar didn't get inside the Warriors' 15 again until the game's final possession.
"When you have to stop them at the 1-yard line to keep them from scoring it's good character for the defense," Brainerd defensive coordinator Bob Brakke said. "We had a few little errors to let them get down there but when it came time to stop them we did.
"Throughout the game they made some plays here and there, but we came back. Five interceptions, we'll take that."
Defensive back Tate Rusk said the Warriors met their objective.
"We knew Willmar threw the ball so our goal was to get five picks and we got them," he said. "Another goal was to get a big, old goose egg up there. We got a zero up there and we were happy about our performance tonight."
The Warriors rushed for 218 yards. Quarterback Scott Ramey completed 8 of 12 passes for 120 yards and a score.
"Linemen are my best friends," Ramey said. "If you get time you're going to make the passes. The receivers ran good routes, everything just kind of clicked tonight. The throws were there, better than against Bemidji, but I've got to give credit to our offensive line. They really did a good job."
Mike Gervenak led the receivers with three catches for 54 yards, including a leaping catch that sustained Brainerd's first series. Kyle Crocker added three catches for 50 yards, including a diving 28-yard touchdown in the second quarter.
"We ran hard, the run blocking and pass blocking was good," Warriors offensive assistant Troy Nelson said. "We had some receivers make some big plays, and Scott threw the ball really well. Even when the other kids got in we moved the ball."
MIKE BIALKA may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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