While wrapping up the Central Lakes Conference football title Friday, the Brainerd Warriors also clinched home-field advantage for the playoffs.
Following their 30-7 victory over Willmar, the Warriors have 18 points in Section 8, Class 5A. If Brainerd loses its regular-season finale at Bemidi Wednesday, and Alexandria beats winless St. Cloud Apollo, Alexandria can tie Brainerd with 18 points.
The first section tie-breaking criteria is head-to-head competition. Brainerd would get the No. 1 seed by virtue of a 27-17 victory over Alexandria Sept. 6.
"We want to play in front of our fans," Warriors coach Ron Stolski said. "We have had great fans."
Section quarterfinals are Oct. 22, the semifinals Oct. 26 and the championship Nov. 1.
Defense does not rest
The Warriors' defense shut Willmar out in the first half and allowed just 204 total yards. Brainerd is yielding only 191 yards and eight points a game.
"Our defensive effort started off kind of slow," defensive back Kevin Mertens said. "Toward the middle of the game we started picking it up. Everyone was flying around. Fred Weiss had a couple of big hits. Darin Eller had good position on that (Willmar touchdown). The guy happened to get over him."
Pardon the interception
Mertens, who had nine interceptions last season, picked off two Friday to run his total this year to four.
"We brought out this new coverage this week where we have two guys playing like a half-zone and deep like free safeties," Mertens said. "It's easy to read the ball. You can fly around. Balls get thrown and you're just all over them."
Running back Luke Furda carried the ball 26 times for a career-high 140 yards.
"This week in practice was probably the best that I've ever had," Furda said. "I'm seeing a lot more of the field, seeing more cuts than I have in the past. That paid off in the game."
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