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Nick Shillock, left, shows Terri Lindseth the selection of Bemidji High School athletic apparel on display at Keck Sports on Tuesday. Pioneer Photo/Ben Karkela

Blue and white blitz: Jacks football fans getting ready for state championship game with Lumberjack apparel

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As the Bemidji High School football team prepares for its first state championship game appearance, fans of the team are preparing for their own blue and white blitz on the Metrodome.

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Bemidji's run to Saturday's championship game has the town buzzing. Many supporters are making the trek to Minneapolis to watch the game in person.

Bemidji squares off against Rocori in the Class 4A championship game at 3 p.m.

Before they go, fans are finding their way to local retailers, eager to find Lumberjack apparel to wear in support of the team.

Rich Blomberg owns Skeeter Stitch and sells a variety of athletic apparel. He sees an increase in customers when Bemidji athletic teams make postseason runs.

"People want to show their pride," Blomberg said. "We try to offer them what we can."

Blomberg is happy to see the Lumberjacks play well. It's good not only for the team, but also for business.

Gary Zerott agrees. Zerott operates Cool Threads and is in his 29th year in the business.

"There's definitely been a noticeable difference with people calling and stopping in to see what we got," Zerott said. "We're getting pretty picked over."

Wanda Melgaard browsed Cool Threads' selection of shirts and sweatshirts, looking for something new to wear in support of the Lumberjacks. Melgaard is a graduate of Bemidji High School, and is excited to see the team play in the title game for the first time in school history.

"I think they are a great team and they play together," Melgaard said. "They're showing people in the Metro that there is life north of Brainerd."

Unfortunatley, Melgaard can't make it to Minneapolis to attend the game, but she plans to watch the game on TV.

If Bemidji wins on Saturday, Zerott will start printing championship apparel on Sunday, and it would be available by Monday. Cool Threads would need to print hundreds of shirts to meet the potential demand.

"We want to be ready to go in case they win," Zerott said.

Zerott says that most of his customers are adults or parents of students, but he will occasionally get a group of high school students.

But it's not just fans who live in Bemidji who are searching for sweatshirts.

Sheila Guest, Bemidji High School activities secretary, says that people from across the state are trying to get their hands on Bemidji apparel.

"Now we're getting calls from the Cities from people who lived here way back when," Guest said. "They're just really proud to be from Bemidji."

Heidi Ryan stopped by the activities office on Tuesday with her daughter, Lydia, to pick up game tickets and purchase a t-shirt. Ryan will be rooting for Bemidji and will attend the championship game with her family.

"We'll be there cheering them on, whether they win or lose," Ryan said.

The Knights of Columbus is showing its support by hosting a pancake breakfast for the football team on Saturday morning. It's a way to fuel the team before they run out across the Mall of America Field in front of thousands of football fans.

Fans in town can support the team one last time on Friday at 6 p.m. during the annual Night We Light parade. Two floats in the parade will carry the Bemidji football team, coaches, managers, cheerleaders and mascot.

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