High school football coaches and players spend hours each week studying film and looking for tendencies they can exploit during the game.
Friday night the film study produced the hoped-for results as Bemidji demolished St. Cloud Apollo 58-14 at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Steve Thompson is Bemidji's special teams coach and during the film sessions he noticed a flaw in Apollo's setup.
"We saw some things on film and Steve had a plan to attack Apollo's punt team," said Jacks head coach Troy Hendricks. "And our attack worked."
The Lumberjacks set the tone on the first series as the defense held Apollo to a three-and-out. The punt return team took the cue and before Corey Geers could get the kick away Dylan Dickinson crashed through the line and was in position to make the clean block.
Bemidji squandered that possession with a lost fumble at the Eagle 10 yard line but on Apollo's next drive the Jacks defense stiffened once again, forced the punt and Brady Schmidt and Dickinson teamed for another block. The ball bounced into the waiting arms of James Bofferding at the 2-yard-line and the senior carried a host of Eagles into the end zone for the game's first score.
"I was surprised that Apollo didn't block our in guys," said Lumberjacks quarterback Mitchell Hendricks. "It took them three punts to figure out how to block us."
Apollo answered Bemidji's touchdown on the first play of its next drive as Ben Alvord caught Luke Stangler's pass and raced 75 yards for the tying touchdown.
That score, however, only seemed to motivate the Jacks.
BHS answered with a 70-yard, four-play drive which culminated with Hendricks hitting Carey Woods for an 11-yard score. Earlier in the drive Woods and Hendricks teamed for a 32-yard gain and Woods followed that completion with a 19-yard run.
After the Eagles went nowhere on their possession Bemidji struck quickly once again. Cody Rutledge returned a short punt to the Apollo 27 and on the next snap Woods faked a pass route to the inside and sprinted along the right sideline.
Hendricks was waiting for the break and the quarterback hit his favorite receiver in full stride for a 27-yard touchdown.
"Mitchell's arm is so strong and so accurate that he makes my job easy," Woods said. "I watched a lot of film this week to look at coverages and tonight Apollo was trying to jam me. I knew that was coming so I was able to get off of the jams and work downfield."
Hendricks and Woods have teamed for seven touchdowns in three games. And Friday their effectiveness was on the home stage for the first time this fall.
"There is a connection the two of us have as teammates and as friends," Hendricks said. "Carey is usually open and if I throw it in his direction I know he'll catch it."
The pair almost connected for their third TD of the evening three minutes into the second quarter as Woods caught a screen pass on the right side, cut to the middle of the field, raced to the left sideline and dived for the pylon. He came up a foot short of paydirt but on the next play Brady Schmidt found the end zone.
Schmidt would score again, this time on a 16-yard run, with 3:46 to play in the half and the Jacks enjoyed a 35-7 lead at intermission.
Hendricks opened the second half with a 73-yard touchdown run and Woods amazed the crowd a few minutes later when he fielded a punt at his 42-yard line, headed left, cut to the right and outraced the Eagles along the sideline for a 58-yard touchdown.
That score, and a 20-yard field goal by Hendricks late in the third period, allowed the officials to establish running time for the final 12 minutes, much to the delight of everyone in the stands.
"We expected to be 3-0 at this point in the season and we are," Woods said. "We have some difficult games ahead of us but I think we have the potential to be a state champion."
Troy Hendricks isn't looking that far into the future but to date he is happy with what he is seeing.
"We have to play four quarters of football to be successful and we need to focus on our play and not on the opponent," the coach said. "Our goal is to get better each week and we did that tonight."
Bemidji hopes that progression continues Friday at Brainerd.