BEMIDJI – A week ago the Bemidji High School football team celebrated Homecoming with a 37-0 victory over Grand Rapids.
That win injected the Lumberjacks with the perfect medicine to revive their spirits and set the stage for the regular season’s final three games.
“We are coming off a great performance,” said BHS coach Troy Hendricks whose team improved to 3-2. “We needed a game like that. The kids, maybe, were questioning their abilities even though the coaches never have. At times the kids have played to their abilities and at other times they haven’t. Last week they played to that level.
“But last Friday is gone and now we need to look forward.”
Moving forward begins tonight when the Jacks head to Alexandria to face the 1-4 Cardinals. Alexandria owns a 21-7 victory over St. Cloud Apollo but it has also lost 28-13 to St. Cloud Tech, 43-0 to Rocori, 48-35 to Fergus Falls and 27-14 to Willmar.
Hendricks isn’t paying any attention to Alexandria’s record. Instead, the Lumberjacks coach is looking at the overall picture.
“Alexandria’s 1-4 record is deceiving,” Hendricks said. “Alexandria is a scary team. The have been competitive against a very competitive schedule. We need to prepare and put forth the same effort we had last week against Grand Rapids if we want to stay with Alexandria.”
The scouting report shows a Cardinal team that is physical but young.
“Alexandria has a ton of talent but it has been inconsistent,” Hendricks said. “Ball control is their key weapon. They are happy to gain three yards per play and slowly move down the field.
“What we need to do is keep the ball and maintain possession.”
Bemidji will try to accomplish that objective with a ground game that is averaging 215 yards per contest. Leading the attack is Tanner Boes who has 503 yards on 78 runs and is averaging 100.6 yards per game.
Quarterback James Hendricks has run and scrambled for 178 yards on 30 rushes while Brady Schmidt has 182 yards on 24 carries.
James Hendricks has completed 30 of his 58 passes for 518 yards. His favorite receiver has been Jaylen Ingalls who has 12 receptions for 226 yards and a touchdown.
Connor McNallan has caught seven passes for 146 yards but four of them have resulted in touchdowns.
Alex Fenson also has seven catches for 93 yards and one score.
The 3-2 record places BHS third in the Section 7-5A standings which are based on a QRF ranking (record and strength of schedule).
Cambridge leads the section seedings with 63.6 points while Chisago Lakes is a close second at 63.2.
Bemidji has 47 QRF points and trailing the leaders are Duluth East with 24.8, Duluth Denfeld with 18.2 and St. Francis with 10.4.
If the playoffs were to start tonight Cambridge and Chisago Lakes would receive byes, Bemidji would host St. Francis and Denfeld would travel to East.
“But if we play the rest of the year like we did last week against Grand Rapids, I think we have a chance to catch either Cambridge or Chisago Lakes,” Hendricks said. “But we can only control what we do and the next thing on our list is Alexandria.
“As a program we are where the coaches thought we should be,” Hendricks continued. “We’re still having some problems and we have a few injuries but they have given other kids a chance to show what they can do.”
Among the injured are Nick Hovila from the defensive secondary and kicker Will Annette.
Hovila sustained a concussion last week and will be rested today while Annette broke his leg during a sophomore game this week and is lost for the season.
Annette was a reliable kicker. He nailed three of his four field goal attempts and booted 16 of his 18 extra point tries.
McNallan, who has been doing the punting, will assume the kicking chores and Ben Christopher and Robert Treuer will see duty in Hovila’s spot.
Tonight’s contest will end Bemidji’s regular season road schedule. The Jacks will close the year at home Oct. 12 against Sauk Rapids and Oct. 17 against Sartell.
“I think all three of our remaining games are must-win for us,” Hendricks said. “We’ll see what our maturity level is on Friday when we go on the road and have to play in what probably will be tough weather conditions.”
Busy BHS weekend
The girls tennis team is the first BHS squad to begin its post-season and 5:30 p.m. today the Lumberjacks will take on either Thief River Falls or Moorhead in the second round of the Section 8-2A team tournament in Sartell.
Bemidji is the top seed in the North sub-section and if it wins tonight BHS will advance to Saturday’s 3 p.m. section semifinals against a qualifier from the South sub-section. If the seedings hold that team will be No. 2 Willmar.
The section title match will be 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
The volleyball team also has a busy weekend planned as the Jacks will play in a tournament hosted by St. Michael-Albertville.
They open at 6 p.m. today against Centennial and at 8 p.m. BHS will tangle with either Maple Lake or Owatonna.
The tournament continues on Saturday.
Today’s scheduled boys soccer home game against Moorhead has been cancelled and won’t be rescheduled.
The game was to be Bemidji’s final regular season home appearance but, because the Jacks (11-2-1) are expected to be the top seed in the section, they will host at least one playoff contest.
The regular season will end Monday at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy.
The girls team will conclude its regular season 1 p.m. Saturday at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy while the swimmers head to Duluth Saturday for an invitational hosted by Duluth East.