Trevor McCulloch may have been one of the most articulate captains the Brainerd Warriors football program has ever had.
When the 6-foot-4, 340-pound captain addressed his teammates, every player listened intently. McCulloch delivered inspiring speeches while teammates huddled around him in the end zone following games last season. His leadership, combined with his skills, landed him at the University of Minnesota this fall.
Mike Weiss, one of the Warriors' tri-captains this fall, is continuing the standard that McCulloch set.
"I try and be a positive leader and not get down on guys because I know they are young," Weiss said. "I make a lot of mistakes so I try to be as positive as I can with them. (McCulloch's) size 14s are big shoes to fill, but I'm trying the best I can.
"Personally, I looked up to him as a speaker and as a person. Besides that, he's just a great kid. I'm trying to emulate him as much as I can."
Weiss' qualities should be emulated by this year's Warriors. He is their leading rusher with 442 yards. He punts, plays on the kickoff team and is the team's third-leading tackler from his linebacker position.
"You have to measure the things he does for our team," Warriors head coach Ron Stolski said. "He's the punter, and a good punter. He's the main guy down on our kickoff team. He's just a heat-seeking missile on that team. He is playing both fullback and running back. As a linebacker, he is our defensive captain, calls the defensive signals. He really has a full night. He's by far the best blocker on our football team among the backs.
"Physically, and as a leader, he's doing an outstanding job of taking care of that multiple role, not even a dual role."
Against Bemidji last week, Weiss rushed for 156 yards and three touchdowns. The week before, against Detroit Lakes, he gained 162 yards and scored twice. He is prospering behind an offensive line that returned just one starter.
"Our offense has really come together the last couple weeks," Weiss said. "When you compete against better teams, it makes it easier for the unit to come together. We have really stepped it up. The yards are coming easier.
"(Offensive line) Coach (Chet) Stevenson does a good job. The line is learning. You can see it in their faces. There are not so many confused looks at practice anymore."
Opposing ball carriers often appear confused after being hit by Weiss. He's the emotional leader of a defense that has limited the opposition to 268 yards and 14 points a game.
"The biggest improvement is just how our defense is learning to play together," Weiss said. "Everyone is not trying to cover for everyone else. They're doing their own job. Our defense is really tough right now."
Playing both ways doesn't afford Weiss much time to practice his punting. He has had to punt only seven times, averaging 32.3 yards.
"I think I kick about four a week," Weiss said. "We do it on Thursdays. Other than that, it's up to me to work on it at my house."
Weiss would like to join McCulloch at Minnesota, one of three Big Ten schools that are in contact with him. He is also being recruited by virtually every North Central Conference school.
"I'm trying to not think about that," Weiss said of his football future. "If I have a good season, it will take care of itself."
Other notable efforts by Warriors:
Justin Grunewald, cross country running, won the boys' division of the Albany Invitational.
(Athlete of the Week is honored by the Brainerd Sports Boosters Club).
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