Warriors run past C-I in playoff opener

Brainerd struck so quickly it was shocking, building a 28-3 first-quarter lead. The Warriors went on to defeat visiting Cambridge-Isanti 35-10 in the Oct. 25 Section 8AAAAA opener to advance to Saturday’s semifinals.

Brainerd senior halfback Nick Welch broke open the Oct. 25 playoff game quickly with three touchdowns in the first quarter, including a 75-yarder (above). Welch finished with 253 yards on 11 carries in the 35-10 Warrior win.

No. 2 seed Brainerd will host No. 3 St. Cloud Tech, a 35-28 winner over Buffalo Tuesday eve. The other semis pairing will be No. 1 Elk River hosting No. 4 Moorhead (a 50-30 winner over Duluth East).

Warrior halfback Nick Welch took the first handoff and sprinted 53 yards to the C-I 10. Two plays later, he scored on a 10-yard sweep to the left.

The Jackets answered with a solid scoring drive as Clayton Jennissen completed an out to Jonah Poppen and twice found Ryan Epsen on slants. Trent Chromy’s hard running also highlighted the drive which stalled in the red zone when a false start was called against C-I. The Jackets settled for a 28-yard Josh Rouse field goal.

Bluejacket senior QB Clayton Jennissen completed 10 passes for 78 yards and added 71 rushing yards on 20 carries against the Warriors.

A huge Logan Davis kick return set up Brainerd in C-I territory, and on the second play of the series Welch took a pitch-right and weaved on a 44-yard scoring run to make it 14-3. The Jackets went 3-and-out on their next possession, however, and Welch took the next carry untouched for 75 yards for a 21-3 Brainerd lead.

Brainerd’s Logan McCallister came through with a strip sack on the next Jacket series, with the Warriors recovering at the C-I 23. It took just two plays to score when QB Mitchell Mclain gathered a bobbled snap and went up the middle for the 16-yard score and 28-3 edge with 53 seconds left in the first stanza.

The Jackets recovered a muffed punt inside Brainerd ground after their next series but couldn’t cash in. They also were driving well late in the first half until Warrior Cole Davis picked off a pass at the 10.

Somewhere in this mass of linemen & linebackers is Clayton Jennissen scoring the last Jacket touchdown of the 2011 season.

It took Brainerd nearly five minutes to score on its first possession of the second half, converting a 4th-and-7 with a 26-yard scoring screen pass to Davis. The Bluejackets (1-8) added one last score with a prolonged drive into the fourth quarter, capped by a 1-yard keeper from Jennissen.

M-8 Football

FINAL: Rogers 5-1, 7-1; St. Michael-Alb. 5-2, 6-2; Elk River 5-2, 6-2; Monticello 4-3, 5-3; Becker 4-3, 5-3; Buffalo 2-5, 2-6; Big Lake 1-5, 3-5; Cambridge-Isanti 1-5, 1-7. Section 8AAAAA: Elk River 6-2, St. Cloud Tech 6-2, Brainerd 5-3, Moorhead 3-5, Duluth East 3-5, Buffalo 2-6, Cambridge-Isanti 1-7.