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PREP FOOTBALL: Warroad defeats Paynesville Area in MN Class AA playoffs

MORRIS, Minn. -- Warroad had more than 400 yards in total offense here Friday as it defeated Paynesville Area 34-12 in the quarterfinals of the Minnesota Class AA high school football playoffs.

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MORRIS, Minn. -- Warroad had more than 400 yards in total offense here Friday as it defeated Paynesville Area 34-12 in the quarterfinals of the Minnesota Class AA high school football playoffs.

"We did a nice job of sustaining drives," Warroad coach Gabe Richards said. "We kept chipping away, moving the chains and getting a few big plays mixed in."

Warroad, 10-2, will play Caledonia in a state semifinal game on Nov. 19 at the Metrodome. Caledonia advanced with a 47-12 win against Moose Lake on Friday.

The big gun in the Warroad offense was Aaron Haataja. The running back rushed for 237 yards on 27 carries. Those included four of the five Warrior touchdowns, on runs of 10, 2, 15 and 22 yards.

"They were keying on Aaron pretty hard early in the game," Richards said. "But our receivers made some nice catches. That really opened things up for our running game."

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Quarterback Ross Merriman rushed for 53 yards, scoring on a 1-yard run. He was also 6-of-8 passing for 76 76 yards. Warroad had a balanced receiving corps in Tyler Hansen (2 catches, 28 yards), Alex Sandahl (2-25) and Al Peterson (2-23).

Defensively, Richards said, Warroad played well.

"Paynesville is an explosive team, with good quickness," Richards said. "But our defense did a good job of recognizing plays and getting where they needed to be. We played smart. We had a lot of contributors on defense."

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