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Bemidji football: Hendricks leads coaching staff, Jacks into state title game

Troy Hendricks is in his second stint as Bemidji's head football coach and activities director. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

Troy Hendricks is in the midst of his second stint at Bemidji High School as the activities director and the head football, and this is where he wants to stay.

"I belong working with teenagers. I'm most comfortable working with kids at this age group," Hendricks said. "I like their passion and I feel that I can have an impact on their lives."

Hendricks, a Bemidji High School and Moorhead State graduate, first became a member of the BHS faculty in 1995 as a physical education teacher and a football coach.

In 1998 he took over the activities director duties and maintained that post until 2002.

A relative who owned a successful business tried to convince Hendricks that the grass was greener on the other side of the fence and that owning a business made more sense than working in the Bemidji school system.

The opportunity to make that move eventually came and Hendricks decided to leave academia and the gridiron for a John Deere dealership.

What he found out, however, was that the business world was not for him.

"I tried my hand in that for six years but when I had the opportunity to come back to Bemidji, work in the school district and get my old jobs back, I took it," Hendricks said.

"Teenagers have much to learn and I have much to teach them. And I'm a Lumberjack through and through."

Hendricks will be delivering his lesson plan 3 p.m. Saturday when the Jacks battle Rocori at the Metrodome for the state Class 4A championship.

Joining Hendricks in delivering that plan will be six varsity assistant coaches who have been instrumental in this year's success.

"I really enjoy working with my staff," Hendricks said. "We make a great team."

Bemidji has averaged 405 yards in its 12 games and much of the credit for that output can be given to offensive coordinator and line coach Bryan Stoffel.

"I'm very blessed to have Bryan as the offensive coordinator," Hendricks said. "He was an All America player at Bemidji State and came back to Bemidji High School with me six years ago.

"Bryan game plans against every opponent's weakness," Hendricks continued. "I confirm what I see and don't see but Bryan is the brains of the offense and he devises what we will do."

No defense has been able to stop Bemidji's downfield passing attack and coordinating that aspect of the offense is wide receiver coach Justin Hunt.

"Justin is in his second year with us and he brings a youthful energy and spirit to the staff," Hendricks said. "His spark is something the older guys on our coaching staff need."

Steve Thompson is in charge of the special teams and each week it seems that the Lumberjacks outplay the opponent in that phase of the game.

"Steve is a head coaching caliber guy and he will make a great head coach," Hendricks said. "He has character and week in and week out he finds ways to attack the opponent's special teams."

Defensive coordinator Mike Fogelson is the veteran of the coaching staff as the 1999 BHS graduate is in his 12th year with the football program. Fogelson also is the head coach of the Jacks baseball team and the Legion baseball squad.

"Mike was our quarterback and in 1999 we went 7-1 and were the top seed in the section," Hendricks recalled. "In the section game we had a two touchdown lead against Brainerd but Mike was injured and Brainerd came back to beat us."

Fogelson's job is to make sure Bemidji's defense has an answer to the opponent's offense.

"We analyze the offense, figure out what they do, figure out what they are good at and then focus on stopping what they want to do," Fogelson said. "If they are a passing team we try to force them to run and if they are a running team we try to force them to pass.

"We have a team of talented and motivated players. They have the ability and the desire to do what is necessary," Fogelson said. "In the grand scheme our job as coaches is to prepare them for the upcoming challenge so each game can be a great experience."

In addition to being the special teams coach Thompson is in charge of the inside linebackers.

"The linebacker is the most intense position for the defense and Bemidji has developed a tradition of great linebackers," Fogelson said. "And that tradition starts with Steve."

Any quality defense is anchored by the line and Jim Mckeon is the force behind Bemidji's dominating defensive line.

"Jim is our disciplinarian," Fogelson said. "He keeps the kids focused and on task. To have a successful defense you need the discipline and attitude that we possess and Jim is the one who provides it."

During last week's state semifinal victory over Mankato West the Lumberjacks continually pounded any Scarlet receiver who dared challenge the secondary. By game's end two of Mankato West's top receivers had to be helped off the field following collisions with the secondary.

Carey Woods Sr. is the architect of that fast and strong secondary.

"I think Carey has the toughest job of all the coaches," Fogelson said. "Our defensive scheme is based on man-to-man coverage and we have forced Carey to turn our secondary in that direction.

"Our secondary is as good as any we have played against despite usually playing man-to-man. We don't give up the big play and we play very well against a running game," Fogelson added.

"My job each week is to come up with a game plan and that plan always looks better when you have the talent to implement it," Fogelson said. "And it also helps to surround yourself with great coaches.

"And great coaching is what we have on this staff."

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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