Adam Hardy did not play football last season. The Brainerd Warriors are delighted he returned to the gridiron this fall.
The 6-foot-4, 210-pound fullback had another staggering game Friday in a 34-25 win over the Alexandria Cardinals.
Hardy scored four touchdowns and rushed for 138 yards. He had five runs of at least 10 yards, including a 50-yarder, and had gained 118 yards by halftime.
In the last three games Hardy has rushed for 375 yards and scored 10 touchdowns.
"I've been hitting the outside off Trevor McCulloch's blocking," Hardy said. "It's been working like crazy. No one has been able to stop us."
Hardy fumbled on the game's first play from scrimmage, Alexandria recovered and the turnover led to a field goal. Hardy said the victory was particularly meaningful for Warrior seniors who lost twice to Alexandria last season.
"It meant so much to (the seniors)," Hardy said. "I told them I would not let them down after the first play that I fumbled."
Hardy said the offensive line of Matt Means at tight end, McCulloch and Jamie Strowbridge at tackle, Joel Jacobson and Jeff Hanson at guard and Brian Burke at center controlled the line of scrimmage.
"The offensive line pushed them back all game," Hardy said. "Sometimes we were a little shaky but we pretty much blew them back."
Halfback Mike Weiss continued his rushing surge with 239 yards and a score. He had five runs of at least 17 yards with one traveling 43 yards. At halftime Weiss had 145 yards on 16 carries.
In his last three games Weiss has run for 407 yards and two touchdowns while playing with a deep muscle bruise in his shoulder.
"They're finally getting in sync with each other," Weiss said of the offensive line. "They know where they're going. They're on their numbers. They're blowing people off the ball. It's awesome."
Key section game for seedings
The win gives Brainerd a 4-1 overall record, tying the Warriors with Bemidji and Duluth East for the best record in Section 8, Class 5A. Bemidji hammered Thief River Falls 42-20 and Duluth East beat Hibbing 25-21 Friday night.
Alexandria, the defending section champion, drops to 3-2 but Cardinals coach Dennis Kalpin believes there is a possibility his team may play Brainerd again.
"I hope so," Kalpin said of another meeting. "It means we're getting better and we're going along in the playoffs."
Defense plays respectably
Lost in the shuffle of the offensive fireworks was a respectable defensive effort by the Warriors. In the first half they limited Alexandria to minus-2 yards rushing and four first downs.
Brainerd sacked Cardinals' quarterbacks four times. Weiss registered two sacks and Bob Brown and Chris Foy had one apiece.
One of Weiss' sacks was on fourth down at the Brainerd 31 on the Cardinals' first possession of the second half.
Weiss also had a key behind-the-line tackle on third and goal at the Brainerd 1 in the final quarter. On the next play Alexandria quarterback Keith Eckhoff threw an incomplete pass that virtually assured the Warriors' win with 3:09 left.
Central Lakes Conference
Willmar 4-0 5-0
Brainerd 3-1 4-1
Rocori 3-1 4-1
Alexandria 2-2 3-2
St. Cloud Tech 2-2 3-2
Little Falls 1-3 2-3
Sartell 1-3 1-4
St. Cloud Apollo 0-4 0-5
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