VIDEO/PHOTO GALLERY: Bemidji cruises past Grand Rapids in season opener
BEMIDJI -- It could be a fun year for Bemidji High School football fans.
In Friday’s season opener against Grand Rapids at BSU’s Chet Anderson Stadium the Lumberjacks’ first-string offense scored at will in the first half and the defense dominated throughout.
Running time and the exclusive use of the reserves in the second half limited Bemidji’s offensive production in the final 24 minutes but the Lumberjacks didn’t need many more points as they cruised to a 49-0 victory.
Friday’s contest was productive on all fronts as the defensive and offensive lines dominated, Bemidji’s offensive weapons produced and the kicking game was flawless on seven conversion attempts.
“Defensively we played a lot of kids but we are green and the kids need the reps and need to finish the plays,” said BHS coach Troy Hendricks. “At times our defense looked good and at times we looked young. But, we are young.”
The offense, however, is seasoned and three of Bemidji’s most potent weapons were on full display.
Quarterback James Hendricks directed a potent running game that produced six rushing touchdowns. The senior had the game’s first TD but then he was more than happy to allow the other Lumberjacks’ weapons to steal the show. Will Annette used his outside speed to score a pair of touchdowns and Logan Hatfield bulled his way for two scores and 223 yard on only 13 carries.
And all three of those weapons only played in the first half.
“James, Will and Logan are three big weapons and they had great nights but the offense all starts up front,” coach Hendricks said. “We liked the movement of our offensive line.”
So did the quarterback.
“Our goal was to play fast and physical football,” Hendricks, the quarterback, said. “It is game No. 1 and we know that we are talented enough that if we play fast and physical football we will be successful.
“We always try to be balanced and play a numbers game with our best guys against their guys and we had an edge in the offensive line,” the senior continued. “This is one of the best offensive lines we’ve had. The line was making big holes for Logan and he ran to the races because of those holes. Will is the fastest guy on our team so we also try to get him free on the outside.”
The line did its job on the game’s first series but Bemidji’s drive ended with an incomplete pass in the end zone.
Grand Rapids lost a yard on its opening possession and BHS fared better with its next opportunity.
After returning the punt to its 48 Bemidji needed only four plays to go the 52 yards. Alex Vollen raced 22 yards after taking a pitch from Hendricks on the first play of the march and three plays later Hendricks scored on a 23-yard keeper.
Alex Laitala booted the first of his seven conversions and the Lumberjacks were ahead to stay.
After another 3-and-out by the Thunderhawks the Jacks needed only three plays to go 59 yards for their second touchdown. Vollen had the honors as he found an open seam in the middle of the secondary and Hendricks hit the sophomore in stride on way to a 37-yard TD.
The second quarter was the Annette and Hatfield show as each scored a pair of touchdowns.
Annette began the spurt when he took a pitch and raced around the right end for a 9-yard score. With 2:49 to play in the half Hatfield found the end zone with a 42-yard run up the middle.
A Grand Rapids fumble and recovery by Nate Snell gave BHS the ball at the Thunderhawks 17 and two plays later Annette raced around the right side for his second score of the quarter.
“My job is to finish the play through the whistle,” Annette said. “I’m an outside threat and I enjoy it. I have some speed and some ability to make people miss but I can’t do anything without the line blocking as well as it is.
“When we run the option play we have two options and the defense has to take one of us,” Annette continued. “James and I have been a combination since eighth or ninth grade and we’ve been able to keep the mesh going. He knows what to do as the quarterback and it was a blast playing with him tonight.”
With 14 seconds to play in the half the Lumberjacks took possession at their 42 after a punt and the plan was to run out the clock. But on the next play Hatfield burst through the middle, cut to his left and outran the defense for another touchdown and a 42-0 Bemidji lead.
Next Friday Bemidji heads to Sauk Rapids where the Lumberjacks expect to be tested more than they were against Grand Rapids. James Hendricks enjoyed Friday’s contest but he knows that there is room for improvement.
“It was a very fun Friday,” he said of the win over the Thunderhawks. “There was a big crowd and it was good for us to come out and put on a show. But we have to execute better on offense, especially with the passing game.”
Bemidji 49, Grand Rapids 0
Grand Rapids 0 0 0 0 - 0
Bemidji14 28 0 7 - 49
B-Hendricks, 23-run. PAT-Laitala kick. 6:20
B-Vollen, 37-pass from Hendricks PAT-Laitala kick. 9:45
B-Annette, 9-run. PAT-Laitala kick. 6:06
B-Hatfield, 42-run. PAT-Laitala kick. 9:11
B-Annette, 17-run. PAT-Laitala kick. 9:30
B-Hatfield, 58-run. PAT-Laitala kick. 11:58
B-Muller, 1-run. PAT-Laitala kick. 3:37