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This week at Bemidji High School: Lumberjacks are ready for postseason

A year ago four Bemidji High School sports programs sent entire teams to state competition and this week three of the squads will take the first steps toward repeating that success.

At 7 p.m. today the Lumberjacks football team will begin defense of its Section 7-5A championship when it hosts Duluth East at Chet Anderson Stadium.

On Thursday the boys and girls cross country teams will travel to Detroit Lakes in search of the Section 8-2A crown. Last fall the boys team claimed the section title and this year coach Ryan Aylesworth believes that both of his squads have the talent to advance to the state.

On Friday Bemidji’s two-time Section 8-3A volleyball team begins its quest for a repeat performance when it will entertain either Sauk Rapids or Sartell in the section quarterfinals.

Bemidji’s other fall team still competing is the girls swimming and diving squad and the Jacks will conclude their regular season 5 p.m. Friday with a dual at Grand Rapids. BHS won the Section 8A crown last season and claimed the section True Team title last week at the BHS pool.

The Jacks will also host the Minnesota High School League sanctioned Section 8A meet Nov. 8-9 and, based on the regular season and True Team results, BHS appears ready to successfully defend last year’s championship.

Football hosts Duluth East

BHS head football coach Troy Hendricks loves this time of the year. The grind of the regular season is over and now the fun can begin.

“I’m excited to begin the postseason,” Hendricks said. “What a coach looks forward to is the playoffs and seeing how the kids respond to the championship situations.

“The first eight games are benchmarks to see what kind of a football team you have and to find out where you sit in relationship to the seedings,” the coach continued. “This year the first eight games proved that we can play with the best but if we don’t execute, just like every other team, we will have a tough time overcoming the obstacles.”

The Lumberjacks overcame enough obstacles to post a 6-2 regular season and earn the No. 3 seed in the section tournament.

The seedings were determined by the QRF numbers and Brainerd (8-0) is not only the top seed in the section but also owns the highest QRF among Minnesota’s Class 5A teams.

Chisago Lakes (7-1) claimed the second seed in Section 7-5A while Bemidji is third, St. Francis (4-4) is fourth, Cambridge (5-3) is fifth and Duluth East (0-8) is sixth.

Brainerd and Chisago Lakes received quarterfinal byes and, if the Jacks get past Duluth East, they will head to Chisago Lakes 3 p.m. Saturday.

Brainerd will host the Cambridge-St. Francis winner Saturday at 2 p.m.

Bemidji’s game plan for tonight’s contest is simple.

“We’re going to play basic football and stick to our basic packages,” Hendricks said. “Hopefully we will play sound, efficient football and get a ‘W’.

“We have an opportunity ahead of us,” the coach continued. “These kids know how to compete and are not afraid of the moment. They don’t play scared in big games. Last year we were the No. 3 seed at 5-3 and we ran the table in the section playoffs. We’ll see if we can duplicate that and create a year that the boys will remember for a long time.”

Volleyball team plays Friday

During the regular season the Lumberjacks fashioned a 14-13 record against very tough competition and the effort was rewarded with the No. 3 seed in the 12-team Section 8-3A tournament.

The top four teams received byes for today’s opening round. Today’s schedule sees No. 11 Sartell (8-18) visiting No. 6 Sauk Rapids (10-14-3) and that winner will visit Bemidji 7 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals.

If the Jacks can take care of business Friday they will hit the road for the semifinals on Oct. 29. The most likely destination would be Moorhead which was awarded the second seed based on the QRF rankings.

Early this fall BHS snapped a three-match losing streak to begin the campaign with a dominant 25-19, 25-20, 25-15 victory at Moorhead.

The championship match will be Nov. 1 at a neutral site.

Cross country teams ready

The regular season ended last week when the girls and boys defeated Moorhead in dual meets at Greenwood Golf Course.

Aylesworth has monitored the progression of his athletes and he believes that both teams possess the talent and desire to make runs at the section titles.

‘The boys are starting to run like I knew they could and are performing like I want them to,” the coach said after last week’s meet. “At this point in the season we want to have everybody firing together and they are.”

Aylesworth was equally impressed with his girls team.

“The girls are starting to jell as a unit and gaining confidence in what they are doing,” the coach said. “Moorhead is a very good team and a very good program and it was important for us to do well against them.”

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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