Preparing for Hermantown
Bemidji head football coach Troy Hendricks and a few of his assistants braved the elements Tuesday night and traveled to Hermantown to watch the Section 7-4A opening-round matchup between Cloquet and the Hawks.
Hermantown won 18-7 to advance to Saturday's game in Bemidji but, because of the weather, Hendricks did not learn much more about the Hawks and how they compare to the top-ranked Lumberjacks.
"Other than exchanging tape, the trip didn't accomplish much," Hendricks said. "The conditions were horrible. There was a 35 to 40 mile per hour cross wind and the snow that fell stung like it was ice. There was standing water on and around the field and, basically, everything was a mess."
Hermantown running back Jeremy Peterson was called upon to lead the offense and the junior ran 17 times for 115 yards and three touchdowns. He scored from 59 yards out on the game's third play and, after the field had turned to mush, Peterson scored a pair of second-half TDs, the first from seven yards and the latter from two yards.
Hermantown's strength is its running game but even if the Hawks wanted to put the ball in the air Tuesday, that aspect was not an option.
"Because of the wind and the rain and the snow, there was no passing game by either team," Hendricks said, "and the special team play was limited."
Cloquet actually had a punt that caught the wind and landed three yards behind the line of scrimmage. Each team also lost three fumbles.
"Hermantown's offense was basic power football," Hendricks said. "The conditions did not allow either team to do much else and those conditions did not allow us to find out much about Hermantown as a team."
Hendricks anticipates that Hermantown will continue to rely on Peterson when the Hawks head to Chet Anderson Stadium for Saturday's 6 p.m. section semifinal. But Hendricks said Bemidji's defense should be ready.
"With the physical and aggressive style we use to defend the run it should be fun to see if we can frustrate Hermantown's offense to the point of forcing them to throw the ball," the coach said. "Hermantown is a very good team but I don't think it saw a team in the Iron Range that employs as many different schemes as we do.
"Offensively I think our style could present some challenges for Hermantown as well," Hendricks continued. "We would like to use a diversified attack on Saturday and see how Hermantown will react."
In Saturday's other 7-4A semifinal, Duluth Central will visit Grand Rapids. Central blanked Hibbing 41-0 Tuesday while Grand Rapids, the No. 2 seed, had a bye.
NOTE: All Bemidji fans are invited to a tailgate celebration beginning at 4 p.m. Saturday at the BSU American Indian Resource Center parking lot. The menu will include brats or hamburgers, chips and soda and the cost is $3.
The event is sponsored by the Bemidji football boosters who also will be fully stocked with Homer Hankies.