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Axemen part ways with coach

Bemidji Axemen coach Robert Fuller compiled a 5-9 record in the team's first season. The team announced Monday that Fuller was not going to be retained for the 2015 season. (Pioneer file photo)

BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji Axemen indoor football team said Monday they will not be renewing the contract of head coach Robert Fuller for the 2015 season.

“On behalf of the Axemen organization, I’d like to thank Robert for his dedication to the Axemen and the Bemidji community,” Axemen co-owner Ross Ladehoff said in a press release. “He was an instrumental part in helping the organization through our inaugural season and we wish him the best in his future endeavors.”

The Axemen went 5-9 in their inaugural Indoor Football League season under Fuller, including a five-game losing streak to end the year.  

Ladehoff said general manager Adam Barnhardt will launch a nationwide search for Fuller's replacement with hopes to name his replacement within one to two weeks.

Fuller was hired as the Axemen's first coach in October, leaving his offensive line coaching job with the University of Mary in Bismarck. In fact, he was hired just a few days after the Marauders defeated Bemidji State at Chet Anderson Stadium.

Fuller came to Bemidji's new IFL franchise with a strong background in indoor football, having coached teams in Omaha and Kearney, Neb. He also led the Green Bay Blizzard to a 12-8 record in the 2012 United Conference Championship, the IFL's equivalent of the Super Bowl.

After several exhibition games, the Axemen started out the season with a 40-36 home win over Green Bay before an enthusiastic crowd at the Sanford Center. The team's performance was up-and-down throughout the season, but fan support remained strong at home. Bemidji climbed above the .500 mark at 5-4 after a May 3 road win in Green Bay, but it would be the last win of the season. Ironically, Fuller's first win, last win and last loss were all against the Blizzard, losing the season finale 52-35.

Shortly after the season ended, Fuller said he was optimistic about indoor football in Bemidji.

“I definitely believe the Axemen can be successful here long-term,” Fuller said. “We have obviously had very good community support, which will only continue to grow. We are already very successful for the 2015 season. The potential is there.”