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FOOTBALL: Bemidji hosts rivals Moorhead for regular-season finale

Bemidji running back Tanner Boes (33) looks for a hole to run against Alexandria Friday as quarterback James Hendricks looks on. The Lumberjacks take on rivals Moorhead in the regular season finale tonight. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — If the weatherman is correct, the Bemidji High School football players and coaches will be able to stay dry tonight when they host Moorhead in the final game of the regular season.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Chet Anderson Stadium.

In their last three games the Lumberjacks have had to battle their opponents and rain showers and last Friday against Alexandria the conditions were so terrible that the officials had to suspend the game early in the fourth period.

BHS eventually won the game 35-34 and improved to 6-1. Moorhead (4-3) had a different fate Friday as the Spuds forged a 20-0 first-half lead over Brainerd in Moorhead only to see the Warriors rally for a 26-23 overtime victory.

“Going into the season we knew Moorhead would present a great challenge. It is one of those games that you always look forward to playing,” said BHS coach Troy Hendricks.

“I don’t know how Moorhead will respond after Friday’s loss to Brainerd but, once again, Bemidji will focus on Bemidji. We’re at home and we’re excited with our position,” Hendricks continued. “This game will be a momentum swinger going into the playoffs.”

The Lumberjacks enter tonight’s game battling Chisago Lakes for second place in the Section 7-5A seedings. Brainerd is 7-0 and has the best QRF (Quality Results Formula) rating among Minnesota’s Class 5A teams and will be the top seed in the section tournament.

Chisago Lakes currently owns second place with a QRF of 83.2 while the Lumberjacks are third with 76.9.

If Bemidji tops Moorhead and Chisago Lakes loses at St. Francis tonight the Jacks could move into second. Such a move would be beneficial because the reward would be a bye in Tuesday’s first round of the section playoffs and a home game in the semifinals.

If nothing changes in terms of the section seedings, the Lumberjacks will open the tournament 7 p.m. Tuesday at home against winless Duluth East.

A win in that game would send Bemidji into Saturday’s section semifinal game at Chisago Lakes.

Hendricks, however, isn’t looking that far ahead.

“Moorhead is solid in all phases of the game,” the coach said. “Moorhead puts up the points and can do it with a number of people. The Spuds have several people who can make plays with the running game and defensively they also are solid.

“But we feel that we can score on anybody and defensively we will try and take away what Moorhead wants to do well,” the coach added. “And if you look at Moorhead you see that it wants to run the ball.”

The Lumberjacks are playing their second game in five days and Hendricks knows there isn’t enough time to add special tricks to fool the Spuds.

“It’s a short week. There’s not any time for adjustments,” Hendricks said. “You just have to go with what you do well and stick with the fundamentals.”

Bemidji will be shorthanded tonight as the Jacks lost a couple of players to injury during the Alexandria game.

Senior linebacker Sam Bruestle separated his shoulder and will be sidelined for three weeks. Defensive lineman Isaac Klinke dislocated his shoulder and will also miss tonight’s game.

“Sam is our most consistent secondary guy and we will miss him,” the coach said. “But if we get to the state tournament he’ll be back.”

Linebacker Aaron Bofferding injured his leg against Alexandria but the senior is expected to play tonight.

Bemidji’s offense also is expected to be buoyed by the return of wide receiver Jaylen Ingalls who has missed the past two games because of an ankle injury.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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