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Bemidji faces Duluth East in home opener

BEMIDJI – With a pair of road games under its belt the Bemidji High School football team will open its home campaign 7 p.m. today against Duluth East at Chet Anderson Stadium.

The Lumberjacks are 1-1, falling to Section 8-5A power Moorhead 34-30 in the season opener and belting Duluth Denfeld 45-14 last week in the Port City.

“I don’t mind being on the road early in the year,” said BHS coach Troy Hendricks. “The kids are anxious to play at the beginning of the year and they don’t care where the game is.

“But now it is time to finally be home. And it will be nice to play four of our last six games at home,” the coach added.

The Greyhounds also split their first two outings. At Grand Rapids in its opener East dumped the Thunderhawks 27-7. Last Friday, however, St. Michael-Albertville hammered the Greyhounds 43-6 in Duluth.

“Duluth East has some athletic kids on offense and a quarterback who is a three-year starter,” Hendricks said. “And for the first time this year we will be facing a team that is two-dimensional on offense.

“Defensively East has a stiff line that we are going to have to neutralize so we can allow our quarterback and runningbacks to make the plays,” Hendricks continued.

Last week BHS had little trouble neutralizing Denfeld’s defenses. Brady Schmidt ran for a 7-yard touchdown and Connor McNallan caught a 7-yard TD pass from Jacks quarterback James Hendricks to give Bemidji a quick 14-0 lead.

A Tanner Boes run and a 21-yard reception by Alex Fenson increased the cushion to 28-0 at intermission and ended any suspense.

The Lumberjacks also scored on Will Annette’s 31-yard field goal, Boes’ 2-yard run and Annette’s 22-yard gallop.

“If you combine our two games you discover that we can move the ball in different ways,” Hendricks said. “Defensively, as a unit, I’m not sure we are moving as fast as we would like to be. We want the players to react to what’s going on and not think about things.

“Last year’s defense read the situation, reacted and made the plays. This year we are making progress but we’re not there yet.”

In an effort to speed that process Bemidji’s coaches have tweaked the defensive schemes and they plan on switching the personnel to better evaluate the team’s potential.

“Right now we don’t know who our defensive core players will be down the stretch and we hope to learn more by playing a few kids on Friday,” Hendricks said.

The Lumberjacks are nursing a few injuries. Among the wounded is inside linebacker Dylan Dickinson who has is battling a sore hamstring. He did not practice most of the week and is questionable for today.

Listed as probable are defensive end Roman Misco who injured his arm last week and Boes who is hobbled with turf toe.

Aaron Bofferding has seen practice time as a linebacker this week as have Tanner Robare as a noseguard and Lucas Goins as a defensive end.

“We’re trying different defensive combinations to see where we stand on the line,” the coach said.

“This is a new team and we’re still learning but, overall, I think we are on par with what the coaches thought we’d be. We’re behind in some areas and ahead in others.

“But it’s great to finally be home,” Hendricks continued. “Chet Anderson Stadium is a beautiful place to play, especially at this time of the year, and we’re looking forward to Friday. Hopefully, we’ll be able to use the home field and fans to our advantage.”

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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