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Unbeaten Jacks host unbeaten Hawks in 7-4A final

The Section 7-4A title and entry in the state playdowns will be on the line Friday when the Bemidji High School football team hosts Hermantown beginning at 7 p.m. at Chet Anderson Stadium.

Friday's game will match a pair of teams with 9-0 records and the confidence to continue a run deep into postseason play.

"Over the course of the year Bemidji and Hermantown have shown that they are the two best teams in the section and it is only fitting that they are playing in the championship game," said BHS coach Troy Hendricks.

"These will be our sternest test of the season," the coach continued. "You can't take any team that hasn't lost for granted. Our kids feel they can't be beaten but Hermantown will come here with that same approach."

Both teams can justify their "can't be beaten" attitude. Hermantown has run roughshod through its Iron Range and Arrowhead opponents, averaging 39 points on offense and yielding an average of 13.

Hermantown's only test was a 21-13 win over Duluth Denfeld in the season opener. Last week in the section semifinals the Hawks ousted Detroit Lakes 41-22.

The Lumberjacks average 37 points on offense and allow 9.6 points on defense. Last week BHS roared to a 42-0 lead over Grand Rapids in the 7-4A semifinals and could have dictated the score. Instead, Hendricks inserted his second and third-team players beginning midway through the third quarter and Grand Rapids' varsity was able to tally 22 meaningless points against Bemidji's reserves.

The Lumberjacks collected 459 total yards of offense last week, 305 of them coming on the ground. Mitchell Hendricks ran for 82 of them while Brady Schmidt rushed for 75 and Mitch Brown 56.

Schmidt contributed three rushing touchdowns while Carey Woods and Hendricks each ran for one score. Woods also caught a TD pass.

Bemidji is making its third straight appearance in the section championship game. Last year the Jacks throttled Grand Rapids 33-18 and in 2009 Bemidji hammered Duluth Denfeld 40-14 in Duluth.

That experience will be a valuable ally Friday.

"We have kids who have been in the section championship game for three straight years and know how to win the game," Hendricks said. "Many of these kids have also experienced success in other sports and that experience will be a big factor in the critical downs and situations that we will face Friday.

"On fourth-and-one, do you go for it or do you punt? Our kids know how to handle that situation," Hendricks continued. "Experience breeds confidence and our kids will play with confidence."

Hermantown's offense centers around an offensive line that stays on the block and a pair of runners who battle for the extra yard and usually get it.

"Hermantown is very disciplined and physical and the backs run north to south," Hendricks said. "As a tandem the backs are better than anybody we've faced this year. I really don't see a weakness with Hermantown's running game.

"But if we can get up by a couple of scores early it might be difficult for Hermantown to come back," the coach continued. "Hermantown usually doesn't score quickly. It is more of a power run and extended drive team."

The Lumberjacks enter the game in very good health. Zach Declusin returns to the backfield after missing two games because of a dislocated elbow.

Joining him in the backfield, depending upon the formation, will be halfbacks Cody Rutledge and Schmidt plus fullbacks Brown and Andrew Street.

Mitchell Hendricks will quarterback and his main receivers will be Woods, Alex Fenson and Nick Gubbels.

Brandon Larson and Cale Mills are expected to handle the tight end duties.

Among those expected to man the line are Ben Schram at center, Billy Deer, Pat Voss, Alex Johnson and Kiefer Bender as the guards, Garret Lind at right tackle and Carson Hogan at left tackle.

Defensively Street and Bender should see action at noseguard, Kole Spencer, Chase Gruber and Roman Misco at the ends, Schmidt, Dylan Dickinson and Nick Conner at the outside linebackers, Larson and James Bofferding at the inside backers, Troy Sauceda and Rich Seado as the strong safeties, Rutledge as free safety and Woods and Dom Hayle as the cornerbacks.

Y pmiller@bemidjipioneer.com

The Section 7-4A title and entry in the state playdowns will be on the line Friday when the Bemidji High School football team hosts Hermantown beginning at 7 p.m. at Chet Anderson Stadium.

Friday's game will match a pair of teams with 9-0 records and the confidence to continue a run deep into postseason play.

"Over the course of the year Bemidji and Hermantown have shown that they are the two best teams in the section and it is only fitting that they are playing in the championship game," said BHS coach Troy Hendricks.

"These will be our sternest test of the season," the coach continued. "You can't take any team that hasn't lost for granted. Our kids feel they can't be beaten but Hermantown will come here with that same approach."

Both teams can justify their "can't be beaten" attitude. Hermantown has run roughshod through its Iron Range and Arrowhead opponents, averaging 39 points on offense and yielding an average of 13.

Hermantown's only test was a 21-13 win over Duluth Denfeld in the season opener. Last week in the section semifinals the Hawks ousted Detroit Lakes 41-22.

The Lumberjacks average 37 points on offense and allow 9.6 points on defense. Last week BHS roared to a 42-0 lead over Grand Rapids in the 7-4A semifinals and could have dictated the score. Instead, Hendricks inserted his second and third-team players beginning midway through the third quarter and Grand Rapids' varsity was able to tally 22 meaningless points against Bemidji's reserves.

The Lumberjacks collected 459 total yards of offense last week, 305 of them coming on the ground. Mitchell Hendricks ran for 82 of them while Brady Schmidt rushed for 75 and Mitch Brown 56.

Schmidt contributed three rushing touchdowns while Carey Woods and Hendricks each ran for one score. Woods also caught a TD pass.

Bemidji is making its third straight appearance in the section championship game. Last year the Jacks throttled Grand Rapids 33-18 and in 2009 Bemidji hammered Duluth Denfeld 40-14 in Duluth.

That experience will be a valuable ally Friday.

"We have kids who have been in the section championship game for three straight years and know how to win the game," Hendricks said. "Many of these kids have also experienced success in other sports and that experience will be a big factor in the critical downs and situations that we will face Friday.

"On fourth-and-one, do you go for it or do you punt? Our kids know how to handle that situation," Hendricks continued. "Experience breeds confidence and our kids will play with confidence."

Hermantown's offense centers around an offensive line that stays on the block and a pair of runners who battle for the extra yard and usually get it.

"Hermantown is very disciplined and physical and the backs run north to south," Hendricks said. "As a tandem the backs are better than anybody we've faced this year. I really don't see a weakness with Hermantown's running game.

"But if we can get up by a couple of scores early it might be difficult for Hermantown to come back," the coach continued. "Hermantown usually doesn't score quickly. It is more of a power run and extended drive team."

The Lumberjacks enter the game in very good health. Zach Declusin returns to the backfield after missing two games because of a dislocated elbow.

Joining him in the backfield, depending upon the formation, will be halfbacks Cody Rutledge and Schmidt plus fullbacks Brown and Andrew Street.

Mitchell Hendricks will quarterback and his main receivers will be Woods, Alex Fenson and Nick Gubbels.

Brandon Larson and Cale Mills are expected to handle the tight end duties.

Among those expected to man the line are Ben Schram at center, Billy Deer, Pat Voss, Alex Johnson and Kiefer Bender as the guards, Garret Lind at right tackle and Carson Hogan at left tackle.

Defensively Street and Bender should see action at noseguard, Kole Spencer, Chase Gruber and Roman Misco at the ends, Schmidt, Dylan Dickinson and Nick Conner at the outside linebackers, Larson and James Bofferding at the inside backers, Troy Sauceda and Rich Seado as the strong safeties, Rutledge as free safety and Woods and Dom Hayle as the cornerbacks.

pmiller@bemidjipioneer.com

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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