A convincing 50-point homecoming victory Saturday capped a magical week of homecoming activities at Brainerd High School.
In the recent past, BHS homecoming had consisted of coronation, a football game, a dance and a few other activities.
Superintendent Jerry Walseth suggested Brainerd try to expand its celebration, which began with coronation Oct. 1 and ended with a concert by opera singer Peggy Kriha-Dye on Sunday.
The week included activities such as a Brainerd Area Youth ministries rally, a memorabilia display, a pepfest for the entire community, a chili feed, decade gatherings at local establishments and an art exhibit.
And, for the first time, the football game was played on Saturday afternoon rather than Friday night.
Zach Doud (left) tackled Fergus Falls quarterback Derek Hanson in the third quarter of Saturday's game. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
"It was just an incredible week," Warriors head coach Ron Stolski said. "I think this week probably did as much for our community as anything. I've never seen so much blue. I saw blue all over at the pepfest (Friday). I've never seen that much blue in 34 years, and spirit.
"I want to congratulate all the people who put this thing together, in particular (community education director) Todd Lyscio and especially Jerry for his vision."
Three Warrior players echoed Stolski's sentiments.
"It was awesome to see all these people here," linebacker Zach Doud said after an estimated 5,000 fans attended the game. "Everyone coming out wearing blue and white, all the cheers battling back and forth, it was awesome to have all that support behind you."
Wide receiver Mike Gervenak said, "It's been interesting, a little tiring, but it's been a lot of fun. It was fun to finally play. It was different playing on Saturday."
Quarterback Nate Schaefbauer added, "Generally, it kind of got a little long but hey, spirit, you've got to show it."
Schaefbauer probably had the most prolific single-game passing day in school history, throwing for 306 yards. In the process he also became only the fourth Warrior in 24 years to pass for 1,000 yards in a season. He has 1,143 yards with two regular-season games remaining.
"The defense that they played forced us to throw," Warriors offensive coordinator Jeff Ramey said. "Our receivers made a lot of big plays and Nate made a lot of big throws. Our guys up front did a great job as far as protecting the passer. Very few times was Nate under pressure, and he was able to get rid of the ball on time."
Brainerd activities director Todd Selk (back left) talked with Randi and Steve Nunnink on the sidelines during Saturday's game. Steve Nunnink was the Warriors' defensive coordinator and strength and conditioning coach until suffering an aneurysm four years ago. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls » Purchase reprints of this photo.
Brainerd played a near-perfect game, with no turnovers and five penalties. And, it did not punt.
"If you don't turn the ball over, if you don't have penalties and don't punt, good things happen," Ramey said. "That's exactly what happened today."
Brainerd scored on eight of its 10 possessions. The outcome could have been even worse as the Warriors failed to convert twice on fourth down inside the Fergus Falls 30.
Gervenak nearly doubled his season reception total (he entered the game with six) with five catches for 149 yards and a score.
"It wasn't me," he said. "Schaefbauer threw the ball. All I had to do was stick my hand in the air and it was right there. The line was awesome. Schaefbauer had all the time in the world, we ran good routes, it was there, it was clicking today.
"Schaefbauer was awesome. He was right on. I don't even know what to say about him. I don't think he can get any better than that. He was great."
At halftime Brainerd had allowed 37 total yards. In the third quarter the Otters gained minus-one yard.
Defensive lineman Nick Boettcher had two quarterback sacks, fellow lineman Laramie Lucas had one.
"Our defensive coach (Bob Brakke) has all the tendencies down," Doud said, "so when we see a play we know what's coming. We almost know the play before they do it so he will blitz us right in there. He's the one who makes us make the plays. We're there and we make the tackles."
Brakke said the defensive plan was executed almost to perfection.
"We knew they had to go wide on us a lot and we did have some early trouble with that," he said, "but the kids responded well. The pass coverage was excellent and the pressure was excellent. It was a good game to get us to get ready for Alexandria (on Friday)."
MIKE BIALKA can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 855-5861.
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