It starts in the trenches.
In Brainerd’s 27-10 win over Moorhead last week, the defensive and offensive lines played a key role in the win.
Both Mitchell Wind and Caleb Lange are Brainerd players who play both ways on the offensive and defensive lines.
Wind is a junior who is 6-foot-7 and weighs 230 pounds. He was one of several defensive linemen to put pressure on Moorhead’s quarterback in the second half.
“I just listened to what the coaches had to tell me about how to play,” Wind said. “And how to react and read my readings.”
Wind said his confidence was high with the way Moorhead’s game ended with zero points allowed in the fourth quarter.
“It also gives us confidence as a team,” Wind said. “We also played well as a team. We’re just doing our thing.
Lange is a senior captain who has moved from tight end to offensive tackle this season. Lange is 6-6 and weighs 255 pounds. He has pledged to play tackle at the University of South Dakota next year.
“It’s been a tough adjustment, but it’s been fun,” Lange said of the position changes. “I’ve never played defensive end or tackle before. My strength coach Logan (McElfresh) suggested I come back in the spring to play tackle and make the switch. I went to college camps and blew it out of the water, so I changed.
The biggest adjustment Lange says is physical.
“What I like about the tackle is that I don’t have to worry about running routes,” Lange said. “I just hit them and it’s really fun.”
Lange and Wind helped block Brainerd’s 258 rushing yards against the Spuds, 184 of which went to Damien Bentho.
“We’re only growing one week at a time,” offensive line coach Curtis Brisk said. “We have three seniors on the offensive line and only one returner, so the last three weeks have really been about developing these guys to believe in each other. This past week has been a great performance. The offensive line gelled and blocked their butts.
Brisk said Lange’s desire to become a coach is what made his adaptation to attacking tackle a success.
“He always asks what he can do best,” Brisk said. “He’s just a worker and he’ll end up being pretty good.”
Lange credited coaching Brisk in their breakout match against Moorhead.
“We were just working every day with Coach Brisk,” Lange said. “Against Andover we didn’t have the best day and he just pushed us really hard with the sleds every day (before the Moorhead game).”
Brisk said the current offensive line has a lot of potential as the season progresses.
“Hopefully we’re just getting started now,” he said.
Lange and Wind start along the defensive line with Eli Wiskow in Brainerd’s 3-4 defense.
“We tell the guys in camp that just because we’re running a three-man front doesn’t mean we don’t need more than three,” Brainerd defensive line coach Aron Anderson said. “We have our role players when the guys are tired. We have two two way players and the cooler weather will start to help us. We need more than three to do the job.
Forrest Wentz is one of those defensive line subs and he had an interception against Andover.
Against Moorhead, Anderson said they performed a few stunts to put extra pressure on the quarterback.
“I think the guys just played the music a little louder and turned the dial, especially after a loss,” Anderson said. “That’s exactly what we need to do every week as we mature and grow.”
Anderson said Wind built his second season where he started.
“He has that experience and for me he had to fall a bit into that leadership role,” Anderson said. “He’s upped his game all around and some of the other guys are following him.”
Both Wind and Lange said wanting to win was the reason they kept their energy high by playing both sides of the ball in the trenches.
“This week I wasn’t tired much,” Wind said. “The first two weeks were tough.”
Lange added: “The first game was tough, but you get used to it. Put the team before you and keep going.
CONRAD ENGSTROM can be reached at 218-855-5861 or [email protected] Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.