The Brainerd Warriors hope to "Sauk it to the Storm" during their homecoming football game Friday night.
Brainerd has a chance to sock it to Sauk Rapids-Rice because the Storm are winless and have been outscored 92-32. They have given up an average of two touchdowns per game on turnovers.
The Warriors enter the game 2-1 after losing 35-7 last week at Class 5A's eighth-ranked and unbeaten Moorhead.
"Imagine us being scheduled for homecoming," Storm coach Bill Magnuson said. "Brainerd is a very good team. We don't make too much out of one game maybe not turning out the way they wanted.
"I don't think the score last week was indicative of what kind of team they are. It was close until the fourth quarter."
Brainerd was within 13-7 after Jared Mueller's 97-yard kickoff return for a score. Moorhead then rattled off 22 unanswered points.
"I think what we all need to do is put the last game aside," Warriors coach Ron Stolski said, "and kids do that better than anybody else. We have to look forward to this homecoming game."
Stolski looks forward to offensive improvement. The Warriors have scored one offensive touchdown in the last six quarters.
"I'm not a little concerned, I'm a lot concerned about how we're playing offensively," he said. "I think the biggest thing is penalties, that they just seem to have fallen at times when we've had some big yardage, but that aside, we're just not consistent enough offensively, and we haven't been since the opening game."
Brainerd played stingy defense in the first two games, victories over Bemidji and Alexandria, yielding 10.5 points and 195 yards a game. But the Spuds broke through for 365 total yards and threw four touchdown passes.
"We all get impatient, the kids do, the coaches do," Stolski said. "We're still awfully young.
We're a very inexperienced football team and it shows up here and there.
"When you lose a leader like Ryan McKay we need some players to step up a little bit. What we were short of in the Moorhead game is making the play when it was there because there were plays there for us to make. We simply didn't get it done."
McKay, a defensive lineman, was injured midway through the first quarter and played sparingly thereafter. Halfback-punter Riley Cullinane was injured late in the second quarter and didn't play the second half. Both are questionable Friday.
"Like most young teams we're a work in progress," Stolski said. "One of our premises has always been that we measure ourselves against our own bar, and the last four-five quarters we haven't played as well as we ought to, or played as well as we think we can, regardless of who the opponent is."
Sauk Rapids has struggled against all three opponents, losing 22-20 to Fergus Falls, 28-6 to Rocori and 42-6 to Sartell, which scored two touchdowns off turnovers and blocked a punt.
"We had a decent first game," Magnuson said. "We probably should have won the first game. We've gone backwards, that's not the way you want to go as a head coach is backwards. We want to move forward."
Tackle leaders are linebacker Dylan Stupca, who had 19 tackles against Moorhead, linebacker David Beilke with 17 and defensive back Casey Geraets with 14.
Mike Bialka can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5861.
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