The Bemidji High boys soccer team heads south today to open an 18-game schedule against a new opponent.
Bemidji will play at Little Falls today. It will be the first meeting in history between the two schools in soccer.
The boys game will start at 6 following the conclusion of the Jacks-Flyers girls game which begins at 4. The JV teams will play in the reverse order.
Rick Toward is back for his 15th season at the helm, the No. 2 man on the fall sports staff trailing only tennis coach Scott Engelstad who is in his 17th year.
Jeff Mitchell is back as top assistant with Lynn Eaton the third man on staff.
They open with 12 returning letter winners from a team that ended 5-12-2, outscored 41-25 and held to two goals or fewer 16 times, six of them shutouts.
Graduation claimed the top goal scorer from that unit, Gentri Jordan, who hit nine times. He trailed only Rylee Curb in the point totals 16-13. But they were the only two to score more than four points.
Only five seniors graduated last year with replacements moving up from the JV team that went 6-11-1 and also had problems scoring, out gunned 47-39 and held to one or fewer goals nine times, four of them shutouts.
Sophomores Kyle Fodness and Nick Gorick are the chief graduates of that team.
Gorick, however, sustained a broken collarbone in practice this week and will be lost for the season. A replacement has yet to be named.
A key addition is freshman Isak Sommer of Walker, a two-year starter on the Wolves varsity as a 7-8 grader. He is expected to add some needed scoring punch.
Kevin Larson will add strength in the net after working virtually every minute of last year's schedule.
Soph Carl Graefe will return to the JV net for his second year,
Tanner Koetter and Tony and Mike Smith return to the back line where only Paul Kamnikar departed. Mike Rees wi8ll be shifted back to join Koetter inside. Junior Josh Beberg will be the fifth defender.
Luke Upgren are back at midfield where Matt Lee and Mike Burns should add depth. Sommer will become the fourth starter at the center line. Fodness will provide depth.
Max Hazelton joins Curb up front. Freshman Riley Brooks will double at forward and midfield.
The Jacks area also looking to advance in the Lakes to Prairie Conference where they ended 4-3-2 last fall behind Hillcrest and Detroit Lakes.
The host Hillcrest tomorrow at 3 after the girls-Walker opener at 1.
It will mark the official opening of the long overdue concession stand and press box which is in its final stage of construction. Team locker rooms are attached to the building.