Bemidji HS football continues road trip at Fergus Falls
Two teams badly in need of a victory come to grips tonight at Fergus Falls when the Bemidji Lumberjacks take on the Otters.
Bemidji comes into the game 1-3 after a last period 28-17 loss at Alexandria.
Fergus is 0-4 losing three times by a single touchdown.
Both have been hard hit by key injuries.
The Jacks lost starting quarterback Mitch Hendricks to a dislocated collarbone last week.
Fergus lost its Division left tackle Adam Schueller (6-4, 295) in its opener against Willmar to a broken leg. Schueller is headed to NDSU next fall on a full ride.
Another top Otter, wide receiver/safety Nick Risbrudt, the coach's son, is also questionable tonight after sustaining a knee injury in practice. He could be sidelined four weeks if its more than a sprain.
Both will have inexperienced quarterbacks at the helm tonight.
Zach Rengel led the Otters freshman team last fall. Two other sophomores and a freshman are in the starting lineup.
Bemidji will go with junior Ryan Stevens at the helm. Stevens took over for Hendricks and played the second half at Alex. He was the B Team quarterback in 2008.
"In a perfect world, we could be 3-1 right now," said Coach Rich Risbrudt. "We had numerous chances against Willmar, Moorhead and Rocori but lost all three games to defensive breakdowns that resulted in easy touchdowns.
Bemidji had that problem at Alex with the Cards scoring on three long bombs. Two runs and a pass, to turn around a game that Bemidji controlled through three periods. Bemidji ran 75 offensive plays to 46 for the Cards.
"We'll have a different game plan tonight," said Jacks Coach Troy Hendricks, "and feel we will be ready for Fergus."
Teaming with Stevens in the backfield will be Czar Woods and Evan Olson with Kevin Nelson alternating in.
Lukas Dudley will center with Jake Gruber and Chris Madson or Jarred Lussier at guard and Chris Dudley and Grant Richardson at tackle.
Will Bruestle will be the tight end with Cole Bardwell and Carey Woods split.
Ryan Rude will be the wide receiver.
On defense, Lukas Dudley will be at the nose flanked by Josh Smith and Frank Mays with Cody Fear and Harley Kroening or Zach Solheim the outside backers and Olson and Ernie Heifort inside.
The Woods brothers man the corners with Matt Hietala and Forrest Moe deep.
The Jacks have had a good week of practice and Hendricks is optimistic about tonight's outcome. With unbeaten Sartell next week, Bemidji can use a win tonight badly.
Fergus will go with Rengel (186-soph) at the controls, Bill Rodning (150-soph) and Lars Ronnevik (198-sr) at halfback and fullback and Will Rader (177-sr) and Risbrudt (182-sr) the wide receivers.
Jesse Laugen (185-sr) will center with Tyler Garding (173-sr) and Sebastian Benzi (185-sr) at the guards, Andrew Sletten (267-sr) and Chase Johansen (178-jr) at tackle and Matt Suek (182-soph) as tight end.
This will be one of the smallest forward walls Bemidji has faced this y ear.
On defense, Cole Sonstebo (188-jr) and Colton Thorson (233-sr) are the ends with Sletten and Eden Beck (172-jr) at tackle.
Ronnevik and Boyden Lee (174-sr) are the outside backers with Garding and Laugen inside.
Rader and Nate Cole (142-jr) will be the corners with Risbrudt as the lone safety.
Bradie Wahlgren (165-frosh) will go if Risbrudt is unable to start.
The Bemidji-Fergus series dates back to 1940 but began in earnest in 1957 when the Jacks dropped Moorhead to schedule the Otters who, at the time, were considered the stronger team.
It also matched old school teammates Red Wilson of Bemidji with Norm Galloway at Fergus.
After five close battles, Galloway stepped out as grid coach and Bemidji dominated the Otters over the next four years before the series was discontinued.
It was not renewed until 1973 for an 11-year run and picked up again in 1997 and remained ever since.
Fergus has won five of the last seven games to take a 17-16 lead, that coming with last year's 25-12 win when the Otters went on to claim the Central Lakes title.