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This week at Bemidji High School: Bemidji's game at Brainerd lived up to its billing

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Mike Bialka is the sports editor of the Brainerd Dispatch and has held that post longer than many of the Warriors coaches and all of the Warriors players have been alive.

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Through the years Bialka has watched thousands of events. Some of them have been great and some of them have been good. Most of them, however, have been very forgettable.

Bialka was among the press corps assembled at Saturday’s football game between Bemidji and Brainerd. From his perch in the press box he had the perfect vantage point to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each team and the intricate details that help determine the outcome.

An hour after the final whistle Bialka was at his desk writing his story for his Dispatch readers. After typing for a few minutes Bialka looked up, turned to a colleague and shook his head.

“I’ve watched many events and most of them have not been very good,” Bialka said. “But this game made up for all of those. It was just a great game.”

For the record, Brainerd edged Bemidji 24-20 when quarterback Thomas Stoxen hit Logan Davis with a 9-yard touchdown pass in the back left corner of the end zone with 2:33 to play. The TD countered a Lumberjacks touchdown three minutes earlier when Tanner Boes ran in from the 6-yard line.

BHS had a last-ditch opportunity to mount a comeback when it started a drive at its 30 with 2:30 to go. A pass to Ryan Hirt gained 14 yards and provided a first down at the Jacks 42 with two minutes to play but a pair of incomplete passes, a 5-yard scramble by quarterback James Hendricks and an interception on fourth down with 1:37 remaining in the game ended Bemidji’s hopes.

“The kids were battling for the No. 1 spot in the section and they battled hard,” said BHS coach Troy Hendricks. “This was a fun game. We learned that Brainerd is the team we thought they were and we learned that we are the team we thought we were.’

The impact of Saturday’s loss took a little time to sink in and there was disappointment with the loss. But high school kids are resilient and nothing, either good or bad, stays with them for too long.

“Everybody was a little tired on the bus ride home,” Hendricks said. “It was quiet for about 90 minutes but eventually we heard some chirping. I think the boys feel okay with where we are at. We certainly would have liked to win but I’m sure the kids will bounce back.”

Bemidji’s bounce-back game is 7 p.m. Friday when it welcomes Alexandria to Chet Anderson Stadium. A few days later, on Oct. 16, the regular season will end when the Jacks host Moorhead.

“There are only 10 days and two games left in the regular season and we will take things one game at a time and see what happens,” Hendricks said. “You don’t want to dwell on what you did or didn’t do and we won’t. Our concentration now is centered on our next opponent — Alexandria.”

It is possible that the Lumberjacks and Warriors will stage a rematch, most likely in the championship game of the Section 7-5A playoffs and, most likely back in Brainerd. Most northern Minnesota football fans, including Bialka, are hoping that scenario plays out.

Tennis team advances

Tennis team advances

The Lumberjacks tennis team will continue its quest for a berth in the state tournament Friday when it heads to Sartell for the Section 8-2A semifinals and final.

BHS, the top-seeded team from the North Sub-Section will face Monticello, the second seed from the South, at 1 p.m. If the Jacks defeat Monticello they will advance to the section final and a 6 p.m. match against either St. Cloud Tech (No. 1 in the South) or Brainerd (No. 3 in the North).

Last week Bemidji won a pair of sub-section matches, blitzing LIttle Falls 8-0 and stopping Alexandria 5-2. Monticello also went 2-0 in its sub-section, downing Sartell 7-0 and Becker 5-2.

In the section individual meet on Saturday, the Lumberjacks will be represented by the doubles team of Annika Johnson and Olivia Dickinson. The pair placed fourth in the North Sub-Section tournament and will open its section meet against the top seed of the South.

Soccer teams end season

The girls and boys soccer teams finished their regular seasons Monday and will now prepare for the playoffs. In an unusual decision by the Minnesota State High School League, the BHS boys program plays in the Class A tournament while the girls are in the Class 2A ranks.

The Lumberjacks boys entered Monday’s game at home against Hillcrest Lutheran Academy rated third in Sub-Section 8A North as determined by the QRF rankings. Hillcrest was No. 1 and Detroit Lakes No 2. Trailing the Jacks (31.2 QRF) was East Grand Forks (28.5).

The other teams in the North Sub-Section 8A field are Alexandria, Crookston, Fergus Falls and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley.

Bemidji’s girls program has been elevated to the Class 2A ranks and its section field includes St. Michael-Albertville, Rogers, Elk River, Moorhead, Brainerd, Buffalo and St. Cloud Tech.

Bemidji entered Monday’s contest at Grand Rapids ranked third in the QRF with 44.5 points. Moorhead was fourth with 45.2 and Brainerd sixth with 42.3.

Swimming, VB are at home

The swimming and diving team will have a busy week as the Jacks head to Detroit Lakes today, entertain Moorhead on Thursday and hosts the section True Team meet on Saturday. Other teams in the True Team meet will be Crookston, Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Fosston, Park Rapids, Perham, Staples, Thief River Falls and Warroad.

The volleyball team also has a full slate of action this week. Today Bemidji travels to Dilworth and Thursday it welcomes Wadena-Deer Creek. During the weekend BHS will be in St. Michael for a Friday-Saturday invitational.

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Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

(218) 333-9200
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