The last time a Brainerd Warriors athletic team generated such excitement in the community may have been 1954 and 1958 when the Warriors played in the state boys' basketball finals.
At least 25 buses, including two for the band and two for the team, departed at 4 p.m. Thursday for the Metrodome where the Warrior football team played Cretin-Derham Hall in the semifinals of the Class 5A state tournament.
Excluding player and band buses, about 1,000 people traveled to the game via bus, each of which holds 47 passengers. Countless others traveled by car.
In 1954 the Warriors won the state boys' basketball championship. Four years later they were state runners-up.
Brainerd coach Ron Stolski and Verndale coach Mike Mahlen entered Thursday's state tournament games with 304 career victories.
Stolski is 304-140-5 after the Warriors' 56-14 loss to C-DH.
Mahlen is 304-94-3 after the Pirates lost to Stephen-Argyle 35-14 in the Nine-Man state semifinals.
Retired George Larson of Cambridge-Isanti is the state leader with 307.
The Brainerd area officiating crew of Jim Gogolin, Rick Benham, Ron Shelito, Garry Grewe and Joel Lofstrom worked Thursday's Class 2A semifinal game between Hawley and Caledonia at the Metrodome.
The Brainerd area officiating crew of Tom Highum, Mark Thorsett, Bud Bertschi, David Rozinka and Kevin Ruen worked the Verndale-Houston quarterfinal game Nov. 8 at Hamline University.
MIKE BIALKA, sports editor, may be reached at email@example.com and at 855-5861.
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