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Warriors look to build on positive accomplishments from 0-9 season

Brandon Miller received Midwest Blue District and Section 8AA honors and was named the Warriors' MVP after rushing for 262 yards and two TDs, passing for 543 yards and three TDs and making a team-leading 66 tackles. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

Going winless in his first season as the head coach of the United North Central football team wasn't what Cody Stevenson had envisioned.

Stevenson does see the Warriors learning from this season and building a successful program in the future.

After opening the season with a 46-0 loss to Park Rapids, the Warriors dropped Midwest Blue District games to West Central Area (28-6), Wadena-Deer Creek (34-6), Pillager (54-8), Staples-Motley (34-14), Long Prairie-Grey Eagle (27-12), and Ottertail Central (56-6).

OTC won the district title with a 6-0 record while Pillager (5-1), West Central Area (4-2), W-DC (3-3), LP-GE (2-4) and Staples-Motley (1-5) followed.

A 30-6 loss to Frazee in the regular-season finale gave UNC the No. 8 seed for the Section 8AA playoffs. UNC saw its season end with a 48-12 loss to No. 1 Hawley in a section quarterfinal game as the Warriors ended the season with a 0-9 record. No. 2 Barnesville defeated Hawley 34-13 in the section championship game.

"Our season was not what we hoped or expected as far as wins and losses, so there was certainly some disappointment there," siad Stevenson. "However, we did have several positive things happen throughout the season that we will continue to build on."

Leading the Warriors this season were the 25 letterwinners: seniors Zach Floyd, Brock Kako, Jared Seibert, Mason Dailey, Gator Bettin, Brady Vry, Blake Schoon, Mason Hotakainen, Gunnar Hrdlicka, Brett Pinoniemi, Mason Bradley, Kirby Massie, Garin Matson and Elliot Mickelson; juniors Brandon Miller, Jonah Howard, Tyce Lee and Kolby Kiser; sophomores Charlie Hodge, Rashad Lincoln and Dakota Meech; and freshmen Ivan Anderson, Torrey Carlson, Eion Ness and Dylan Rasmussen.

Miller and Howard received Section 8AA honors while Dailey, Pinoniemi, Kako and Seibert received Section 8AA honorable mention honors. Miller received all-district honors while Howard and Seibert received all-district honorable mention consideration. Floyd, Kako, Seibert and Miller served as captains.

Miller and Hodge handled the quarterbacking chores for the Warriors this season. Miller completed 46 of 112 passes for 543 yards and three touchdowns with eight interceptions and rushed 88 times for 262 yards and two TDs. Hodge was the starter at the beginning of the season and completed 17 of 34 passes for 171 yards and one TD with seven interceptions before moving to wide receiver.

Pinoniemi was the Warriors' leading rusher with 456 yards on 61 carries with two TDs while Howard rushed 72 times for 267 yards and three TDs.

Dailey (21 catches for 161 yards and one TD), Lee (18 receptions for 283 yards and two TDs), Kiser (seven catches for 139 yards and one TD) and Hodge (five catches for 78 yards) were UNC's top receivers.

Miller also handled most of the kickoff and punt returns, compiling 209 yards on 17 returns. Pinoniemi had 116 yards on nine returns, Howard returned five kicks for 61 yards and Matson returned eight kicks for 55 yards.

The Warriors' offense averaged 194 yards a game, including 115 rushing and 79 yards passing, while scoring an average of 7.8 points a night. UNC's defense allowed an average of 39.7 points a game..

Leading the defense were Miller (66 tackles), Dailey (33 tackles, two interceptions), Pinoniemi (29 tackles, two sacks), Bettin (28.5 tackles), Hotakainen (28 tackles), Matson (25.5 tackles), Kiser (22 tackles), Vry (21.5 tackles, two sacks) and Howard (21 tackles).

Receiving team awards were Miller (MVP), Howard (Offensive Player of the Year), Matson (Defensive Player of the Year), Seibert (Lineman of the Year), Hotakainen (Most Improved Player), Anderson (Rookie of the Year) and Schoon (Warrior Award).

Even though the Warriors will have several key spots to fill with the graduation of the 14 seniors, Stevenson is looking for UNC to put in the work in the off-season to be able to pick up some wins next fall.

"Despite our tough 2019 schedule, our expectations to win will not change," said Stevenson. "We expect to continue to improve and grow both individually and as a team and as a result be successful on Friday nights. The keys for meeting those expectations will require us to get bigger, faster and strong, but also continue to come together as a team."

UNC OFFENSIVE STATISTICS

RUSHING: Pinoniemi 61-456 (2 TDs), Howard 72-267 (3 TDs), Miller 88-262 (two TDs), Dailey 3-19, Floyd 7-17, Meech 1-9, Hrdlicka 7-8, Schoon 3-5, Hodge 10-(-10).

PASSING: Miller 46-112-8 for 543 yards (3 TDs), Hodge 17-34-7 for 171 yards (1 TD).

RECEIVING: Dailey 21-161 (1 TD), Lee 18-283 (2 TDs), Kiser 7-139 (1 TD), Pinoniemi 6-17, Hodge 5-78, Howard 2-28, Massie 1-14, Korvela 1-3, Hotakainen 1-2, Miller 1-1.

UNC DEFENSIVE STATISTICS

TACKLES: Miller 66, Dailey 33, Pinoniemi 29, Bettin 28.5, Hotakainen 28, Matson 25.5, Lee 24.5, Kiser 22, Vry 21.5, Howard 21, Seibert 18.5, Schoon 12, Kako 11, Massie 9.5, Bradley 9, Hodge 8.5, Hrdlicka 5, Lincoln 4, Ness 4, L. Hendrickson 3, Womble 2, E. Hendrickson 2, Meech 1.5, Anderson 1, Rasmussen 1, Mickelson 1.

QUARTERBACK SACKS: Pinoniemi 2, Vry 2, Matson 1, Howard 1, L. Hendrickson 1.

INTERCEPTIONS: Dailey 2, Lee 1, Matson 1.

FORCED FUMBLES: Pinoniemi 1, Hotakainen 1, Bettin 1.

FUMBLE RECOVERIES: Seibert 1, Hodge 1.