BEMIDJI – The initial weeks of practice and first few games of the schedule are used by high school football coaches and players to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals and the team.
Last week the Bemidji football team tested itself against Moorhead, one of the premiere programs in northern Minnesota. The Lumberjacks and Spuds traded blows all night but BHS eventually lost the game 34-30 when Moorhead scored with 39 seconds to play and Bemidji’s apparent 17-yard touchdown pass in the final five seconds was negated by an offensive holding penalty.
“We always want to win, and we felt that we left a lot of potential points on the field,” said Bemidji head coach Troy Hendricks of last week’s outcome. “But I thought we did many nice things offensively, I thought our special teams did great things and I thought defensively we saw the best player we will see all year (runningback Chase Morlock) and overall we did well.
“Friday’s game at Moorhead was our first test of the year and we learned a ton,” the coach added. “Morlock was the real deal. We knew he was Moorhead’s man but we didn’t know he was that talented.”
Morlock scored four of Moorhead’s five touchdowns and finished with 214 yards on 25 runs and 60 yards on four catches.
“I was impressed with him,” Hendricks added.
The coach also was impressed by his players.
“Offensively we were exposed but I thought we did many nice things,” he said.
Leading that offense was sophomore quarterback James Hendricks who completed six of his 11 passes for 97 yards. He did not throw a touchdown pass but he didn’t toss an interception, either.
“James is only a sophomore but he is very mature for his age and has seen a lot of things on the football field,” the coach said.
Bemidji’s special teams returned two kickoffs for touchdowns against Moorhead, including the opening boot which gave the Jacks an immediate 7-0 lead.
While the defense had its hands full with Morlock, it did not allow a big play to any other Spud.
It is unlikely that the defense will face anyone as dominant today when Bemidji travels to Duluth Denfeld for a 6 p.m. contest. A week ago Denfeld was blistered 47-0 at Monticello and the Hunters are not considered a threat to challenge for a section championship.
“As a coaching staff we haven’t spent much time this week looking at Denfeld,” Hendricks said. “Our focus has been concentrating on what we want to do, fixing things we believe need to be improved and playing Lumberjacks football.
“If we do that Friday night we’ll be fine. If we get better each week the scores will take care of themselves,” the coach added.
Bemidji did not sustain any major injuries last week and the coaching staff should have its full complement of players available tonight.
Among those expected to see duty on the offensive line are Hunter Weidenborner, Billy Deer, Pat Voss, Alex Johnson, Anderson Carter, Matt Breeze, Gaeton Roy and Ron Pearson.
The probable receivers include Jaylen Ingalls, Adam Loisel, Nick Gubbels, Connor McNallan, Alex Fenson and Ryan Hirt. James Hendricks will return at quarterback and among those joining him in the backfield will be Tanner Boes, Tyler Kroening, Brady Schmidt and Wakinyan Moore.
Defensively the Jacks are expected to use Lucas Goins at noseguard, Josh Misco and Roman Misco at the ends, Dylan Dickinson and Jeremiah Huseby inside, Schmidt and Troy Sauceda outside, Rich Seado and Nick Hovila at the corners and Sam Bruestle, Gubbels, Ben Christopher and Devaughn Rainey as the safeties.
“We hope to be able to rotate guys in the lineup,” Hendricks said. “Our goal is to give the kids who have been working hard in practice some playing time.”
NOTES: Next Friday Bemidji will have its home opener against Duluth East at 7 p.m. and the team will celebrate “Tackle Cancer” night. Fans will be asked to donate to the statewide “Tackle Cancer” drive and all money raised will be sent to the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund.