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Bemidji High School football team relishes role of underdog in playoffs

Free safety Nick Gubbels, left, knows that Bemidji will be in a dogfight tonight when it meets Totino-Grace in the state Class 5A semifinals. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer 1 / 2
Alex Fenson will rotate among the wide receivers Saturday night in the Class 5A semifinals. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer2 / 2

BEMIDJI – Being an underdog is a role the Bemidji High School football players and coaches have embraced this season.

The 2011 Lumberjacks were expected to win just about every game and that squad finished with an 11-1 record, the lone blemish coming in the state Class 4A championship game against Rocori.

This year’s team, however, was not supposed to extend its campaign very deeply into the postseason.

According to the seedings, Bemidji’s season should have ended three games ago when the Jacks traveled to Cambridge for the Section 7-5A semifinals.

Bemidji won that game 21-0, and the Lumberjacks followed that performance with a 31-29 upset of Chisago Lakes in the section championship game and last week’s 35-14 demolition of unbeaten Moorhead in the state quarterfinals.

“When we play with intensity and with passion, we can accomplish great things,” said Bemidji head coach Troy Hendricks whose team is 9-3 and is riding a four-game winning streak.

The postseason run continues 7 p.m. today at the Metrodome in Minneapolis when the Jacks will take on Totino-Grace. Based on the QRF numbers and the opinions of the state’s coaches, the Eagles have been rated Minnesota’s top Class 5A team all season. BHS finished the year 19th in the Class 5A QRF rankings and, once again, will be the underdog.

And that is fine with the head coach.

“I don’t feel any pressure going into this game. I don’t know if the kids feel any pressure but I sure don’t,” Hendricks said. “All postseason the coaches have come up with great game plans and the kids have followed through on them.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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