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THIS WEEK AT BHS: Lumberjack teams open at home

Based on the first week of competition, it could be a very good fall for the Bemidji High School sports programs.

The girls tennis team played five matches last week while the boys soccer squad hosted Little Falls and Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, the girls soccer team entertained Little Falls and the girls swimmers participated in the Willmar Invitational.

And, so far, the Lumberjacks are doing very well as the tennis team is 5-0, the soccer teams have combined for a 3-0 record and the swimmers finished fifth in the seven-team field.

The remainder of the BHS fall programs will start their campaigns this week and capping the action will be Friday’s home football opener against Grand Rapids.

Mark Fodness’ tennis team boasts a solid singles lineup and, according to the coach, a host of players are interchangeable as doubles players.

On Friday Fodness made the most of his roster as he elevated a number of different athletes to the varsity level and they came through with a 4-3 victory over Hibbing. Earlier in the week the Jacks defeated Pine City 6-1, South St. Paul 7-0, Mounds Park 6-1 and Alexandria 5-2.

After the hectic initial week Bemidji will only have one more meet prior to Labor Day and that will come Wednesday when it hosts Grand Rapids and East Grand Forks starting at 2 p.m.

Both soccer teams will be under the spotlight this week as they will play under the lights at BSU’s Chet Anderson Stadium.

The boys will host Detroit Lakes at 7 p.m. on Tuesday while the girls will welcome the Lakers at 7 p.m. on Thursday. The contests are the only ones of the week for both soccer teams.

Versatility was the key to last week’s 2-0 start for Rick Toward’s boys team. In their 4-3 opening game win over Little Falls the Jacks concentrated on offense and the result wa 39 attempted shots and four goals. Saturday, in the 3-0 triumph over Hillcrest Academy, BHS emphasized defense and the athletes posted a shutout.

“The coaches have been spending time in the preseason and during the summer contemplating how we will play this fall,” Toward said. “There are many ways to skin a cat and in soccer you use a variety of different formations. We’ve been playing different formations for years and we will change depending upon who we are playing and how we plan to attack and defend.

“This group of players is flexible,” Toward continued. “In baseball you can change your defense by using a shift and with our guys we can move then to different positions because they can fly and they can do so many different things and do them well.”

The girls soccer team also had a productive start as the Lumberjacks celebrated coach Logan Larsen’s debut with a 3-1 win over Little Falls.

“This was a good way to start the year,” Larsen said. “Overall, I saw effort and commitment and that will determine how much we will improve during the season and how strong we will be.”

This week’s action began on Monday when the boys and girls cross country teams traveled to Moorhead for their initial meets of the fall. On Sept. 5 the Lumberjacks will participate in a competition at Greenwood Golf Course hosted by BSU coach Craig Hougen. September’s schedule also includes meets at Little Falls (Sept. 11), Bagley (Sept. 16), Milaca (Sept. 20), Fergus Falls (Sept. 25) and the University of Minnesota (Sept. 27).

The volleyball team will make its debut Tuesday when it visits Perham. Last year the Lumberjacks had another successful season but eventually saw it come to an end with a loss to Moorhead in the Section 8-3A semifinals. The Spuds went on to represent the section at the state meet where they went 1-2.

BHS was the section champion the previous two years and the athletes hope to make a return trip to the state meet.

On Thursday the Lumberjacks will host Detroit Lakes in their home opener.

Also seeking a return to the state tournament is the football team. After four consecutive trips to state, including a runner-up finish in 2011 and a loss in the state semifinals the next season, Bemidji has its sights set on another deep playoff run.

“Can we win the state championship? I think so,” BHS head coach Troy Hendricks said. “And if it wasn’t possible I would tell the kids.”

The Lumberjacks also will be home on Sept. 12 against Fergus falls, Sept 19 against Sartell and Oct. 3 against Brainerd.

Hitting the road is the swimming team as it will travel to Brainerd on Tuesday in its only action of the week. The Lumberjacks will make their home debut Sept. 5 against Red River and Grand Forks Central.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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