FOOTBALL: Beavers bring new coordinators into the fold
BEMIDJI -- The freshmen of the Bemidji State football team aren’t the only ones getting acquainted to campus this fall.
The Beavers are welcoming a pair of new coordinators to the sideline. Jamie Bisch enters his first season in charge of the “Gang Green” defense, while Karson Pike will head the offense along with second-year coach and co-coordinator Ryan Olson.
Bisch comes to Bemidji after two years as defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at Midland University in Nebraska. After playing defensive back at Wisconsin-River Falls, where he graduated in 2008, the Madison Lake native began his coaching career at nearby Minnesota State Mankato before coaching four seasons at the New Mexico Military Institute.
Bisch has known head coach Brent Bolte since 2010, and stayed in touch with him over the years before accepting the job.
“They had a great culture when I got here defensively,” Bisch said. “Coach Bolte being the head coach, being a defensive guy, he’s a great leader with defense. That guy’s forgotten more defense than I know defense. He’s fantastic.”
Bemidji State’s previous offensive and defensive coordinators, Craig Bagnell and Rob Aurich, left the team over the offseason. Bagnell was named head coach at U-Mary last December, while Aurich departed to become special teams coordinator at South Dakota in February.
Bolte said there has been a bit of a learning curve, as is frequently the case with any new personnel, but that they have integrated into the program well.
“They certainly are knowledgeable coaches. They do a good job,” Bolte said. “We’re a pretty tight staff, so that’s always fun to have those guys get along extremely well, which is important.”
Pike re-joins the staff having spent three seasons as a graduate assistant for the Beavers from 2010-12. The Golden, Colo., native played quarterback at Central Lakes College in Brainerd before getting his bachelor’s degree from St. Cloud State in 2010. Following his first stint at BSU, Pike served four years at Iowa Western Community College before helming Aspen High School for two seasons in his home state.
Pike couldn’t turn down the chance to coach under Bolte, one of his early mentors. Arriving shortly after last season has given Pike plenty of time to implement the new offense, which he said will look familiar, but with some new twists.
“Luckily I got here last December so we were able to install leading up to spring, and then get a whole spring ball in running the offense,” Pike said. “I think guys are really familiar with it.”
After coordinating the run game last season, second-year coach Olson will fill a similar role this year as co-offensive coordinator.
“He certainly has a heavy hand in what we’re going to do,” Pike said. “... I lean on him heavily in his expertise, which is running the football. We’ll just share the responsibility and flow with the game.”
There will be some differences when the defense lines up Thursday night against Northern State, but nothing drastic, Bisch said.
“There’s going to be a lot of similarities in what we do,” Bisch said. “We do have a few things that are a little different -- little tweaks here and there that we might be able to throw at Northern State, (or) we might not. We’ll see. But the core of what we do is intact and we feel good about it.”
Kickoff for Thursday’s season opener at Chet Anderson Stadium is set for 6 p.m.