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VIDEO: Indoor Football League: Dixie Wooten is new head coach for Bemidji Axemen

Dixie Wooten was named head coach of the Bemidji Axemen indoor football team on Friday. (Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer)2 / 2

BEMIDJI -- A year ago Dixie Wooten came to Bemidji as the defensive coordinator for the Bemidji Axemen. A quarterback during his playing days, Wooten also is very familiar with the offensive aspects of football.

On Friday, Wooten’s overall experience and his familiarity with indoor football were rewarded as he was named the head coach of the Bemidji Axemen of the Indoor Football League.

“This is an opportunity to live out a dream,” Wooten said of his promotion during Friday’s press conference in front of Paul and Babe at the Bemidji Waterfront. “There are lots of pieces in place (to have a successful franchise) and I have the opportunity to coach in the greatest community and for the greatest owners around.”

Those owners include president Ross Ladehoff who has been with the team since its inception and three new men -- Dan Skaug and Nate Coffin who own DPS Exteriors in Bemidji plus Phil Sallberg who is a dentist in Roseau.

Skaug, Coffin and Sallberg also were introduced during Friday’s press conference but Wooten was the headliner.

“I feel we have something to prove (with the franchise). We are close. We also are going to have many guys back on the team and we will bring in some new guys,” Wooten said of this season’s potential. “We want to win games and we want to win the United Bowl (championship game). If we do that we’ll have a big parade in Bemidji.”

Before the Axemen can order convertibles for their caravan along Bemidji Avenue, there is work to be done but Wooten believes achieving the ultimate goal is possible in the near future.

“Last year was our first season in the league and a first-year team is going to have struggles,” Wooten said. “Defensively we had a lot of stops and in indoor football a stop is the same as a turnover. We’ve already contacted the players we want to have come back and we will have tryouts in Fargo in November and probably a week of practice in Fargo.

“Starting the first day of training camp we will work toward our goal of winning. I want to bring a championship here within two years. I’m excited to fulfill every obligation needed to make this program successful both on and off the field.”

Wooten knows what it takes to win in the IFL. His indoor football playing career began in 2009 when he spent 10 games as the quarterback for River City and another five games handling that job for Wichita.

The next year he started all the games for Wichita and led the squad to the playoff final. In 2011 he played for Nebraska and he began his coaching career in 2012 as the offensive coordinator and, later, the interim head coach for the Allen Wranglers.

“This is the opportunity that I’ve been working toward since 2004,” Wooten said of Friday’s promotion. “But it’s not the end for me. My goal is to coach in the NFL but for now I want to make Bemidji and this team proud.

“My vision is to bring in quality and community guys who want to go to the next level. And, as an organization, we need to practice and to play like we are already in the NFL,” Wooten continued.

“Hiring coach Wooten is a tremendous building block for the future of this organization,” Ladehoff said. “Dixie is community driven and we look forward to working with him and continuing to build this franchise.”

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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