Bemidji football team blanks Sartell to cap first undefeated regular season since 1985
For the first time in 26 years the Bemidji High School football team ended the regular season with a perfect 8-0 record. The Lumberjacks added the finishing touches to that accomplishment Wednesday night at Chet Anderson Stadium with a 22-0 victory over Sartell-St. Stephen.
Offensively the Jacks were not at their best even though they accumulated 410 yards of offense. Defensively, however, BHS dominated the Sabres and Bemidji coach Troy Hendricks was quick to heap praise where it was due.
"That was a great performance by the defense," Hendricks said. "Sometimes people judge a team's performance only by how the offense does but (Wednesday) it was our defense that deserved the credit. The guys have been shooting for a shutout all season and they finally got it."
The visitors crossed midfield only four times the entire game and never seriously threatened to score. Bemidji's defense punished a pair of Sartell quarterbacks and the result was seven sacks and a pair of interceptions by Cody Rutledge.
The first sack forced a punt on the opening drive and Bemidji started its initial march at the Lumberjacks 48. On Bemidji's first offensive play quarterback Mitchell Hendricks connected with Rutledge for a 50-yard gain to the Sabres' 2-yard line. Carey Woods provided the only points the Jacks would need two plays later when he caught Hendricks' TD pass near the back right pylon.
A botched snap was turned into a conversion run by Alex Fenson and five minutes into the game the Lumberjacks were ahead to stay.
The defense limited Sartell to a pair of three-and-outs on its next two series and late in the opening quarter BHS took advantage of a short field to score its second touchdown.
The 36-yard march began with Woods gaining 20 yards on a pitch and five plays later Hendricks teamed with Woods on a 20-yard score.
The 15-0 lead stood through the end of the half. Bemidji had its chances to increase the lead but three lost fumbles prevented the offense from generating more points.
"We made some mistakes but the staff and the players will be able to correct them," the coach said. "Offensively we were just a little out of synch all night but we will make the necessary adjustments."
The lone score of the second half came in the opening series as the Lumberjacks went 67 yards on five plays. Keying the drive were Mitch Brown's 21-yard scamper and a 39-yard catch and run by Woods. Two plays later Woods and Hendricks teamed for their third TD of the evening, this one a 5-yard catch over the middle.
"I'm proud of these guys," Hendricks said. "Going 8-0 in the regular season is one heck of an accomplishment. Now we'll take a few days off before we get ready for the section tournament."
Bemidji has earned the top seed in the Section 7-4A playoffs and will have a bye in Tuesday's first round.
Hermantown, which will be ranked second in the six-team section, also will have the night off.
Tuesday's probable quarterfinal matchups see No. 6 Hibbing visiting No. 3 Detroit Lakes and No. 4 Grand Rapids hosting No. 5 Duluth Denfeld.
Bemidji will open its post-season Saturday, Oct. 29 at Chet Anderson Stadium against the Grand Rapids-Denfeld winner while Hermantown will tangle with the other quarterfinal survivor.
If the Lumberjacks make it to the Section 7-4A title game it will be played in Bemidji on Nov. 4.
Sartell-St. Stephen 0 0 0 0 - 0
Bemidji 15 0 7 0 - 22
B-Woods, 1-pass from Hendricks. PAT-Fenson run. 4:51
B-Woods, 20-pass from Hendricks. PAT-Fodness kick. 10:17
B-Woods, 5-pass from Hendricks. Pat-Fodness kick. 2:00