Whenever the Brainerd Warriors and St. Cloud Tech Tigers clash, something big is at stake.
Last fall, the seventh-seeded Tigers visited Adamson Field and knocked off the second-seeded Warriors 19-14 in the quarterfinals of the Section 8, Class 5A playoffs.
At 7 p.m. Friday, the unbeaten and seventh-ranked Warriors will entertain unbeaten Tech in a regular-season contest with Central Lakes Conference and playoff ramifications.
The winner is the favorite to win the conference championship and secure home-field advantage and the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, which open Oct. 22.
"It's always a big game," Tech coach Ron Kaczor said. "I guess it adds a little interest that both teams are undefeated. If both were 0-4 it still would be a big game.
"We have a nice rivalry going with Brainerd. We often play each other twice during the year. Whether it's at Clark Field or the Brainerd field, it's an excellent setting for a high school football game. The crowd is enthusiastic. It always has the feel of a playoff game. It's fun for kids and fans."
Tech has clawed its way to an unbeaten start by playing staunch defense, allowing only 21 points, the fewest surrendered by any conference team. The Tigers have defeated Sartell 34-8, Bemidji 14-7, St. Cloud Apollo 12-0 and Moorhead 16-6.
A week after Brainerd nipped Moorhead 8-7 in an overtime thriller, the Tigers unleashed running back Mike Williams 18 times for 187 yards and two touchdowns against Moorhead. Tech intercepted three passes and stopped the Spuds at the Tech 27 late in the fourth quarter with St. Cloud leading 10-6.
"They always seem to have good size," Warriors coach Ron Stolski said. "That's been a Tech tradition, to have big kids who play there.
"We enjoy playing them. It seems they're always in the heart of our schedule or a game that affects the outcome of things."
Both teams have 11 section points at midseason. Teams earn three points for victories against 5A schools and two points for wins against other schools.
Brainerd has raced to its second consecutive unbeaten start with sturdy defense and a steady offense. The Warriors have allowed only 10 points and 179 yards a game while averaging 25 points and 322 yards.
The Warriors' ground game is led by quarterback Chris Klabo with 403 yards and running back Luke Furda's 329. Klabo has passed for 360 yards and five touchdowns, all to wide receiver Justin Mueller.
Tackle leaders in a 35-0 victory against St. Cloud Apollo last week were Brandon Kraemer with 14, Fred Weiss 13 and Chad Weiss 11. Fred Weiss is the season leader with 71, Chad Weiss has 61, Jake Phillips 46 and Kraemer 41.
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