The Bemidji Lumberjacks head to St. Cloud State tonight to open the state football tournament.
They will take on Sartell in a 6 p.m. contest.
Other 4A openers sent St. Thomas Academy against Mahtomedi, Northfield against state champion Mankato West and Rogers against Totino-Grace last night.
The Bemidji-Sartell winners will face St. Thomas or Mahtomedi Nov. 20 at 12:45 at the Metrodome.
The Class 4A final will be the feature game Nov. 28 at 3 on the second day of the Prep Bowl.
This will be the third trip to the state for Bemidji and the second under the six class system.
In 1978 under the five class system, Bemidji competed in Class A, the second largest group, beating Detroit Lakes 29-7 and Silver Bay 21-13 with a dramatic last minute comeback before bowing to Fridley Grace 30-7 in the snow bowl at BSU.
Speedsters Dale Leonard and Craig Erhart were totally shut down by the lack of footing that night.
Fridley went on to take the title 17-14 over Apple Valley the next week.
Teams qualified those years by winning league titles or meeting state qualification standards.
Bemidji was the Northwest Conference winner. DL won the Mid State and Silver Bay the Seaway League
The Jacks only other appearance came in 2000 under Troy Hendricks in the six class, everyone goes system where they were buried by Wayzata 41-14. a team led by Marion Barber who went on to star for Minnesota and now is the feature running back of the Dallas Cowboys.
Bemidji will be a decided underdog tonight but goes into the game with everything to gain and nothing to lose. The pressure should be on Sartell.
Unbeaten Sartell will be a decided favorite, taking an 11-0 mark into play. One of their wins was a decisive 28-0 win at Bemidji on another snowy night in which they limited Bemidji to 85 yards and five first downs.
Bemidji was able to complete only three of 11 passes and had no runner gained more than 20 yards.
But the Jacks regrouped following that game and won four of their final four starts. three in the playoffs, to take the 7-4A crown.
They are now 6-5.
They demolished Duluth beating East 20-0, Central 40-0 and Denfeld 40-14.
Sartell took the 8-4A crown with victories over Fergus Falls 33-8, Little Falls 35-7 and Alexandria 20-18.
Alex was the only team all year to come within 19 points of the Sabres, who beat Little Falls 36-17 in the season opener.
Alex had won nine straight since its season opening loss to Sauk Rapids 14-7.
Sartell led 6-0 after one period but was behind for the only time all year 12-6 in third before responding with two TD's on a two yard pass and Josh Kremer's two yard run.
Cole Karsky converted after both which proved the difference as Alexandria scored again in the final period but missed a two point conversion.
Kremer, who gained 108 yards in the Bemidji game, carried 24 times for 97 against the Cards. Cole Jenkins, who threw only six times in the snow at Bemidji, threw 25 against Alex, completing 17 for 192 yards.
Rob Voshell who had the lone reception at Bemidji, made nine catches for 131 yards.
Bemidji will be back at full strength for this game with Mitch Hendricks back at quarterback to run the veer, adding a run threat to his passing game.
Bemidji had four turnovers in the first game, something it will have to avoid tonight if it hope to advance.
The title game will be the Saturday feature this year starting at 3.
The Friday feature will be the 5A title game this year.
Hendricks will direct the attack with Czar Woods at tailback and Evan Olson at full backed by Kyle Nelson at either position.
Ryan Rude will be the flanker with Will Bruestle the tight end and Carey Woods and Cole Bardwell dividing the split end post.
Grant "Big Country" Richardson and Chris Dudley will be the tackles, Chris Madson and Jake Gruber the guards and Lukas Dudley at center.
On defense, Frank Mays and Josh Smith will flank Lucas Dudley in the front three with Cody Fear and Zach Solheim the outside backers and Olson and Ernie Heifort inside.
The Woods brothers man the corners with Matt Hietala and Forrest Moe deep.
Brandon Larson and James Bofferding will also see line backing chores with Corey Huber spelling Dudley at nose guard.
Sartell poses major problems with tackles Hayden Kelm (6-7, 290) and Mike Schramel (6-0, ,285) up front. That pair dominated play at Bemidji and most other teams they have faced,.
Austin Turner (255) also starts on offense as does tight end Anthony Schmidt (225). Kremer (190) and Sean Tillman (205) are the running backs.
With no school Friday, the Jacks were given a school sendoff Thursday afternoon with a pep fest at the gymnasium.
Heifort came in for a spot in the sun this week when he was named the leader in tackles in the maxpreps.com and perps.startribune.com stats. He was also student of the week last week with a 3.94 gpa He already had 12 college credits in engineering.
2009 0 Sartell 28
2008 37 Sartell 24
2001 42 Sartell 22