Jacks host St. Cloud Tech in key section game
The regular season is winding down and today the Bemidji football team can take a giant step toward securing the top seed for the Section 7-4A playoffs when it hosts St. Cloud Tech at 7 p.m.
The Lumberjacks and Hermantown share 6-0 records but Bemidji's schedule is, according to the QRF rankings, tougher than that of the Hawks. The QRF ratings will be used to determine the section seeding and, if the Jacks win today and again Wednesday at home against Sartell, they will earn the top seed.
Should Bemidji stumble, however, Hermantown could slip into that position.
St. Cloud Tech brings a 5-1 record to Chet Anderson Stadium, the lone loss a 28-13 setback at the hands of Brainerd.
Earlier this season BHS posted a 21-7 victory at Brainerd. Other common opponents include Alexandria, Sauk Rapids and Moorhead. The Jacks have beaten those teams 35-6, 43-6 and 40-13 respectively while St. Cloud Tech downed Alexandria 14-9, defeated Sauk Rapids 14-0 and toppled Moorhead 17-10.
"St. Cloud Tech will give us our sternest test since we played Brainerd," said BHS coach Troy Hendricks. "Tech is playing with more confidence than most of the opponents we have faced. Tech is confident in its ability and will present a stiff challenge."
The Tigers seem destined for the third seed in the Section 8-5A playoffs. Brainerd and Elk River will battle for the top spot in the section while Moorhead, Duluth East, Buffalo and Cambridge trail the leaders.
"Tech is used to success on the football field and has many kids back from last year," Hendricks said. "Most teams have tried to run the ball against Tech and haven't challenged Tech's defense with the passing game. I think we have both dimensions on offense and we hope to take advantage of what Tech will give us."
Bemidji quarterback Mitchell Hendricks continues to be a potent weapon as the senior is third among the state's signal callers with a quarterback rating of 141.2.
Carey Woods' credentials also are among the best in the state as he ranks second in receiving yards (772), third in receiving touchdowns (10) and fifth in total receptions (35).
Defensively Brady Schmidt's five sacks rank eighth statewide.
Mitchell Hendricks has completed 64 of his 94 passes for 1,165 yards and 12 touchdowns. The running backs are averaging 7.9 yards per carry and average 217 yards per game.
Leading the way is Mitchell Hendricks who has 350 yards on 37 rushes. Mitch Brown has gained 259 yards on his 42 runs while Woods has rushed for 237 yards on 14 carries.
Woods also has gained 772 yards with his 35 catches. Alex Fenson has caught 12 passes for 141 yards and Nick Gubbels has eight receptions for 110 yards.
Brandon Larson and James Bofferding anchor the defense. Larson has 104 tackles while Bofferding has 101 stops, an interception and a forced fumble.
Cody Rutledge has picked off three passes while Chase Gruber and Kole Spencer also have an interception.
The Lumberjacks are looking forward to playing at home and testing themselves against a strong program such at St. Cloud Tech's.
"I think the key will be first downs," coach Hendricks said. "We will have to stop Tech on first down and offensively we will have to gain enough yardage to give us second and short.
"So far this year we haven't faced adversity for four quarters but Tech is the type of quality program that will give us that adversity," the coach continued. "But we also are a confident group. I believe that when we face that adversity we will respond. If we execute in all three phases we are a good football team."