Only one perfect season in records dating back to 1925 has been enscribed in Brainerd high school's football annals, that the 7-0 standard established by Coach Ben Taylor's Warriors of 1938.
That conference championship, Brainerd's last in the sport until Harvey Shew took over in 1954 and guided the club to a 7-1 mark, was scored while the Warriors were yielding just one touchdown all season.
That came in the opening game against Bemidji, the Warriors winning 13-7, thanks to an 85-yard kickoff return TD by Pinky Boyd.
For the season, Brainerd tallied 197 points to the oppositions' seven. It followed up the win over Bemidji with a 39-0 blasting of Aitkin; then stopped Staples, 14-0; C-I and St. Cloud Tech, both 39-0; Alexandria, 20- 0; and Little Falls, 33-0.
Bud Little sprinted 75 yards for a touchdown against Staples and scored three times against Alexandria in the Homecoming battle. Gene Bierhaus galloped 80 yards against C-I and Little 70 against Aitkin. Each tallied nine times during the season, with southpaw Bob Alderman's passing and running from the quarterback slot a key feature.
BRAINERD HIGH SCHOOL'S 1908 football team went undefeated through eight games. Members of the squad were (left to right) top row, James B. (Jimmy) Templeton, Harry J. Carlson, George Mahood, James H. Alderman, Charles Horn; second row, John (Moxie) Mahium, John O'Connor, Coach Fred Sanborn, Roy Jeffrles, Rowland Barron; front row, Conrad Osdahl, Captain Quintus (Quint) Parker and Frank Cullen.
The Brainerd Daily Dispatch of Oct, 28, 1938 commented: "Brainerd probably has the most powerful and versatile backfield ever to play in the Central Six conference."
The preceding year, it was Fritz Bierhaus the scoring leader with eight touchdowns as Brainerd won five games, lost none but tied C-I and Tech (both coreless) while tallying 84' points to only seven for the opponents.
Other standouts on the 1938 team were ends Carl Englert and Byron Veillette and center Norb Novotney: All three made all-conference, along with Alderman, Little and Bierhaus, giving Brainerd six of the 11 first team berths. Bierhaus and Veillette were co-captains, the former later going on to play with the Minnesota Gophers, the last such until Jon Jelacic, star back of the 1953 eleven, made it at end and captained Minnesota in 1957.
Alderman's father, Jim Sr., was one of the heroes of the unbeaten 1908 eleven -- a team which played nine games and won them all, including two triumphs over St. Cloud Normal (now St. Cloud State) and other verdicts over Aitkin, St. Cloud Tech. Little Falls, Wadena,. Perham (played in the snow) and Bemidji.
Brainerd's games then were played on the McKay grounds (near St. Joseph's hospital). Coaches were Fred Sanborn and Wobby Abear.
"Our high school teams in those days never had any equipment. Merchants had to buy them for the team that year. It included headgear, uniforms and shin guards," Alderman recalls.
"We first started using the forward pass back in those days and Quin Parker (Merrifield) was our top passer. He threw them against Bemidji," he recalled. Brainerd's team included center George Mahood, guards Fatty O'Connor and Roy Jeffries, tackles Roland Baron (later a district judge at Wadena) and John Mahium, ends Conrad Osdahl and Frank Cullen, quarterback Parker, right half Harry Carlson, left half Jim Alderman and full back Charlie Horn.
Players themselves usually limed the field before games.
FROZEN FIELD at Bemidji, which brought about a post- ponement of Brainerd's resumption of a discontinued series with Bemidji in 1955, was inspected by Al Freeman of Brainerd. The game then was played Nov. 4 and Coach Harvey Shew's crack Warrior eleven ended the Lumberjacks' winning string at 17 games in a row (Daily Dispatch photo).
Taking over as coach in 1925- 26 was H. C. Beresford and his teams finished 3-9-3. Then came Warren Kasch, later the basketball coach at St. Cloud Tech high school through the 50's, compiling a 12-9-2 record for 1927-29. Bill Damman's 1930- 36 elevens won 22, lost 18 and tied three and Taylor, who took charge in 1937, produced the winningest record of them all (.718) for 1937-41 (23-9-3).
Present athletic director Kermit Aase had a winner in his lone season (1942), a club which copped five of seven starts. Then came Mike Hyduke (1943- 47) for a 15-20-4 escutcheon and Fred Kellett 3-4-1) for a lone term in 1948 before turning his attentions full time to the hard-court game and compiling one of the state's finest records in that sport.
Don Adamson guided the Warriors for 15 games and a 7-8 pace in 1949-50 and Ed Tonish was in charge (1951-53) for a 15-8 showing. Shew's Warriors 1954-57) coming here from some strong showings at Little Falls were 21-13 and DeWayne Sundby had the club one term (1958) and a 3-5 mark before Dick Lagergren, who just re-signed in mid-April after 12 campaigns, brought Brainerd home the winner in 55 games while losing 49 and tying three.
Lagergren's 1959 Warriors were 7-2 and shared the conference championship with C-I. His 1961 and 1962 teams were both second in the Central Six loop to Tech, finishing with 5-4 records overall and his 1966 eleven won seven of nine games; but failing to claim any loop diadem since the conference had disbanded.
Brainerd went without a loop crown from 1938 to 1954. In 1939, the league went from the Central Six to the Central Eight through 1947; the Central 10 through 1949; Central Seven 1950: Central Five in 1951; and back to the Central Six in 1951 through 1964.
Shew, a Brainerd native and one-time Warrior gridder, not only brought a conference championship in his switch from Little Falls; but also guided Brainerd to its first win over St. Cloud Tech since that 39-0 scalping in 1938. The Warriors won, 12-7. Tech had won 15 straight while rolling up 333 to 39 points in the process, Brainerd being blanked in 10 of the encounters.
When Brainerd won again from the Tigers, 18-12 in 1955, and 7-0 in 1956 under Shew and then pounded Tech 14-0 and 32-C in former Tiger grad Lagergren's first two seasons here, it seemed the dynasty had been toppled.
However, a look at the record since 1961 shows that the Granite City boys have resumed their mastery, winning one of 10, the lone blot being a 6-6 tie in 1963. In that span, the Warriors have been white-washed five times and they have been outscored overall, 241 to 31.
That last Brainerd win over Tech 32-6 is one of the most noteworthy in the book since it came the very next week after the Warriors had been blasted 62-0 at Edina-Morning-side for the most-lopsided loss in the Warriors' recollections back through 1925. Sophomore backs Dale Brown and Bob Rofidal played key roles.
The Warriors were conference champion one other season (1955) and that club didn't lose a game to a state opponent, but caught a 27-0 loss at powerful Sioux Falls (S.D.) Washington in the start of a four-game series which saw Brainerd defeated each fall and outscored by a 129 to six margin.
The loss came in the second game of the campaign after Brainerd had clipped Duluth Central, 20-0. Then followed a 19-13 win over Tech, 13-6 success against Staples, 32-13 smashing of Little Falls, 33-15 blitzing of Aitkin, 20-7 clobbering of C-I, 32-14 thumping of Virginia and a 19-13 edging of Bemidji.
The latter victory took on statewide focus as it was a resumption of a series with the Lumberjacks, who had won their last four meetings with Brainerd ending in 1950 and were carrying a string of 17 straight successes entering the game. The game was played on a "frozen field" which had seen the tilt postponed briefly for that reason.
With Lloyd (Bud) Schmid assisting Shew in developing the most versatile Brainerd back-field seen in many a moon, Brainerd racked up 206 points and fooled some forewarned officials with its mastery of the fullback fake dive play.
Quarterbacking it was Roger Adair with fleet backs Ron Chisholm and Tom Pankratz, and Huskie fullback Ron Schrader giving it zip and punch. A stout line was headed by tackles George Melin and Clarence Vinje, and ends Don Hauck and Dave Wiggins.
Actually, it was Tonish, later a coach at the junior college, who engineered the turn in fortunes for the Warriors on the gridiron as his 1951 eleven was 5-2, 1952 4-4 and 1953 6-2. The. latter lost 20-0 to St. Cloud Tech and 28-0 to Hopkins and Shew's 1954 team improved on that in losing only its finale 40-0 to Hopkins after having outscored seven foes, 239 to 25 to that point.
Named all-conference were Chisholm, Jim Gum and Ken Wasnie.
One of the top plays of Kasch's 5-2 1927 season was the interception of a pass and 98-yard run for a TD in a 13-0 win over Milaca by Walter Hautala. Elmer Foster scored seven touchdowns and Joe Gabiou passed for seven scores in the 1931 campaign.
A Brainerd winning string 15 in a row was ended in a 14-6 loss to Bemidji in the second game of the 1939 season. Co-Capt. Gene Brandt scored five times (three of them in a 20-13 win over C-I) in 1940 and was named all-conference along with John Hanna. He then scored nine TDs in 1941, including a punt return of 84 yards for a score in a 13-7 edging of C-I and was again on the all-conference (the only unanimous selection) along with a center from St. Cloud Tech named Lagergren.
Selected on all-conference and all-state teams in 1942 were John Garvey, Mike Slaby and Tom Miller and Jim Gardner, who caught a pass from Slaby and raccd 88 yards to score in a 25-0 win over Staples was scoring leader with four tallies. Myer (Whitey Skoog and Ray Martinson were all-conference the next fall and Skoog made the all-state lineup.
In 1944, Bill Maxe made both all-conference and all-state and later played in the North-South All-Star game at the University of Minnesota. Chuck HaIsted, now the Two Harbors athletic director; Bob Novick and Bob Carlson all were all-conference in 1945 and Stew Mills scored five touchdowns. The 6-1-1 team of Mike Hyduke in 1946 got eight touchdowns from Chuck Cossette and a conference crown went down the drain in a 6-0 loss to Tech in the final game of the slate. Named all-conference were tackle Wayne Swanson, also named All-State; end Nick Betzold, tackle Jim Worden, fullback Bob Novick and quarterback Roland Utzinger.
Jim Smith dashed 95 yards to score against Wadena in 1947 and the all-conference team listed Lynn Holm, guard, and Matt Hill, tackle. Jerry Hill at end and Bud Schierholtz at center made the elite group the following season.
Bill Selisker, who was a Tri-captain of the 1952 team with Duane Lindberg and George Montgomery, dashed 96 yards for a touchdown at Crosby-Ironton: but it was the Warriors' only score in a 25-7 scalping and the next week, the team smashed Fergus Falls 37-0 to finish at the .500 level (4-4).
Huskie Dale Brown, who had a trial with the Minnesota Vikings after being named WCCO-Radio All-State, came on strong in the final five games (all wins) after Brainerd had lost to Coleraine, Duluth Central, St. Cloud Cathedral and St. Cloud Tech his senior year in 1961.
He scored only two touchdowns and an extra point in those first four games, then tacked on 76 points in the final five, many of his TDs coming on long runs. After racing 59' and 54 yards to score in a 28-7 rout of Staples, he went 69 and 80 against Little Falls and its great fullback-tackle Gale Gillingham (of Green Bay Packer fame) -- the final TD bringing a 19-14 victory. He scored all three TDs in that game and got two in a 40-26 win over Aitkin and a pair in a 34-25 decision over C-I.
That brought up a trip to Bemidji and Brown was spectacular as he dashed for 299 yards in the first half, including TD gallops of 80 and 70 yards. He played decoy much of the second half as Brainerd pulled out a 25-19 victory, ending with 312 total yards rushing in the contest.
Reproduced from the Centennial Edition of the Brainerd Daily Dispatch (1871-1971).