The Bemidji Lumberjacks football team is out to reach the .500 mark tonight when it hosts Cold Spring Rocori at 7 at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Bemidji has not finished in the black since 2001 when it ended 8-3, bowing to Alexandria in the 8-5A final.
Since then it has gone 1-8, 0-9 and 0-9 the following three years and 3-6 the past four.
It takes a 3-4 mark into tonight's game against a Spartans team that is 4-3.
An added incentive for Bemidji will be to add another four points to its section standings and perhaps gain a first round home field next Tuesday for the opener.
Bemidji is currently battling Duluth East and Denfeld for the 3-4-5 berths behind Cloquet and Hermantown but profits from its five point wins over Brainerd and Moorhead.
Rocori, the Rockville, Cold Spring, Richmond triumvirate, has taken its last two starts.
The pair have met four common foes this fall, both winning narrow decisions over Fergus Falls and dropping games to Alexandria by 11 and 23 points.
But the Jacks fell to Tech and Willmar and Rocori won over that pair handily the past two weeks.
The two met for the first time in history last season with Rocori scoring a decisive 41-21 decision. breaking an early 7-7 tie with two touchdowns and rolling up a 41-14 lead in the final period.
It out gained Bemidji 454-88 that night.
Bemidji's pass defense will be severely tested tonight. For the Spartans run out of a spread offense and throw repeatedly.
New Rocori coach
Mike Rowe has taken over the reins from Joel Baumgartner after spending the past few years as a St. Cloud State and Minot assistant.
Activities Director and long-time head grid coach Mark Johnson (1989-2000) is now the defensive coordinator.
Derek Lieser will be at the controls.
But he is working with a virtually new team with just five players back who saw frequent play in 2008.
Bemidji should have an edge in size with Rocori showing only one 200 pounder in the offensive line. But all 11 starters seniors.
They also have only one 200 pounder on defense with tackle Jess Engquist (215) being the solo starter on each side of the ball. Its top returnees carried 11 times rushing and caught seven passes last year.
Bemidji has been far stronger stopping the run than the pass this fall and will have to exert more pressure on Lieser and show tighter coverage, especially on the deep routes, to be successful.
The Spartans will go with Lieser (162-sr) at quarterback, Mike Niehoff (160-sr) at full and Spencer Schulte (175-sr) at halfback.
The wideouts are Ben Rausch (189-sr), Alex Weimann (189-sr) and Brett Eisenstein (175-sr).
Chris Braun (175-sr) centers for guards Inquest (215-sr) and Eric Mueller (185-sr) with John Zimmerman (185-sr) and Zach Middendorf (190-sr) at the tackles.
On defense, Rocori will have Ben Thorpe (185-sr) and Zimmerman at the ends, Engquist and Mueller at tackle and Wiemann on the nose.
The linebackers are Aaron Schneider (182-sr) and Chris Braun (175-sr) with Eric Lextercamp (175-sr) and Rausch at the corners and Schulte and Reece Hemmesch (165-sr) deep.
2008 21 Rocori 41