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Bemidji State football players report to campus to begin fall practices

Bemidji State guard and captain Jordan Anderson, far left, talks with defensive coordinator Rich Jahner at the check-in table Wednesday afternoon during reporting day at the John Glas Fieldhouse. Pioneer?Photo/Eric Stromgren

Jordan Anderson said he felt the Bemidji State football team underachieved last season and he's looking forward to what a new year will bring.

The 2011 BSU football team reported to school Wednesday afternoon at the John Glas Fieldhouse lobby and the team will begin practices today.

"I'm just excited to see how good we really are because I think we are talented," said Anderson, an offensive guard and team captain. "I'm excited to see what we can do on the field this year because we had so much momentum from the spring practices, through the summer and now going into the fall. It's going to be a blast. I think we're very close chemistry wise this year."

Wednesday was mostly an administrative day for the Beavers. Players signed in with defensive coordinator Rich Jahner, updated contact information, picked up equipment and checked into the dorms.

The Beavers will spend the next three weeks preparing for the Aug. 25 home and season opener against Minot State at Chet Anderson Stadium.

The game against Minot State - the Beaver Bash - is a Thursday night contest at 7 p.m. The game is part of the BSU's Community Appreciation Night and there will be a fireworks show after the game.

The first three home games for the Beavers this season are night games and is a new twist to the schedule.

"We just wanted to try and get the best venue for our kids," BSU head coach Jeff Tesch said. "We want to get bigger crowds and that can be tough to do early on in the season because there are so many things to do Saturday afternoons. Some people want to get to their cabins or on the water one last time. It also gets hot on our sideline early in the season with that afternoon sun. This was done on purpose so we can get the best entertainment for our fans and players. We like playing in front of big crowds."

BSU will host Southwest Minnesota State on Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. and defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth on Sept. 24 at 6 p.m.

"It brings back memories of high school games and I don't think there's going to be anything better than football on a Saturday night," Anderson said. "It will be a lot of fun, good football and I hope we get more people out."

The Beavers return a veteran roster in 2011 from a team that finished 7-4 overall and 6-4 in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference play last season.

"The exciting news is we're getting a lot back from last year," Tesch said. "We've got some holes to fill on the defensive line, quarterback and long snapper. There's work to do there."

BSU lost all-conference defensive ends Jordan Lardinois and Rob Wills along with all-conference quarterback Derek Edholm, who was a three-year starter. Lardinois also was the team's long snapper.

After two years of relief duty for Edholm, junior Lance Rongstad will be BSU's starting quarterback and a team captain this fall.

Rongstad has been an impact player and versatile his first two seasons. He was second on the team in rushing yards, passing yards and yards per catch as a freshman. He gained 274 all-purpose yards as a quarterback, wide receiver and punt returner in seven games before undergoing surgery to clean out his knee.

Senior tight end Brian Leonhardt, senior safety Brody Scheff and senior safety Jake Schmidt are also team captains on this year's squad.

"We've got work to do but we have one of the most tight-knit groups we've ever had here," Tesch said. "There were about 40 who participated in the captains practices the other day. I've been very happy with the leadership of our captains up to this point."