MOORHEAD -- Jared Mueller may be primarily a defensive back but he's becoming an offensive threat for the Brainerd Warriors.
The junior scored the only Brainerd touchdown in Friday's 35-7 loss to the Moorhead Spuds at Jim Gotta Stadium, returning a third-quarter kickoff 97 yards for a score.
"(Assistant) coach (Deryl Ramey) set it up so we didn't do the reverse anymore," Mueller said, "so he just teaches us to head toward the middle, then make your break at the last second toward the sideline.
"There was a great block by Luke Olson. I have to give that credit to him."
Mueller returned four punts against Bemidji for 90 yards. Against Alexandria, he returned a kickoff 27 yards.
The 3-5 thrives
Brainerd has been playing a 3-5 defense (three linemen, five linebackers) for four years now. Moorhead installed it this season.
Spuds coach Rick Eidsness said Moorhead learned the alignment from playing against Brainerd. The Spuds limited the Warriors to a season-low 154 total yards. They forced three turnovers, converting two into touchdowns. The other resulted in a missed 37-yard field goal attempt.
"It starts up front," Eidsness said. "Our up front three guys, Jeremy Smith, Torey Ostlund, Gary Richards, played a great game. If the 3-5 is going to work you have to have a good middle linebacker and Jay Thoreson did a super job. Those guys played awesome. Our cornerbacks just had to play the pass and it worked."
Section final preview?
The victory rewarded Moorhead with three valuable points in the Section 8, Class 5A standings. Section 8-5A teams earn three points for wins against 5A schools, two points for wins against others.
Brainerd plays just three 5A opponents and can earn a maximum of 16 points. Moorhead plays five 5A schools and could earn 21 points.
"By taking three more points away from (Brainerd) it puts us in good shape for the section," Eidsness said.
Who knows? The teams could meet in a rematch Nov. 4 for the section title.
"For us every game is about making a statement," Eidsness said. "We went down to Armstrong, played a Cities team down there, and played well. Our confidence grew and now we know we can play with them.
"Brainerd has been the star of the section. This was kind of a message game for the section, that they've got to take us seriously."
Mike Bialka can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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