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Bemidji eager to discover identity today at Moorhead

BEMIDJI – Each team, no matter the sport or the level of expertise, develops an identity that is unique to the collective talents of the players.

The identity of the 2011 Lumberjacks was based on the notion that nothing would stand in the way of victory. And that team lived up to that mantra, going unbeaten until the state Class 4A championship game at the Metrodome where the Lumberjacks lost 17-10 to Rocori.

“When that team faced adversity the players got mad and did what they needed to do to overcome it,” said BHS coach Troy Hendricks.

“But this year’s team is still looking for its identity.”

Hendricks and his coaching staff will have a better idea about that identity and the team’s potential following today’s 7 p.m. opener at Moorhead.

The game matches two of the premier programs in northern Minnesota. Last season Bemidji advanced to the state final in Class 4A while the Spuds claimed the Section 8-5A crown and participated in the state tournament.

Hendricks is eager to send the 2012 Lumberjacks into battle and he is anxious to see how this year’s squad responds to the challenges that lie ahead.

“Any coach will tell you that they aren’t ready for the first game,” Hendricks said. “There never is enough time to prepare.

“You aren’t sure what you have but we are eager to see how the new cast of kids will do. And we’re optimistic.”

Last year’s offense could not be stopped. In the season opener the Jacks piled up the points against Moorhead (a 40-13 victory) and they continued that type of offensive domination the rest of the season.

Duplicating that firepower will be difficult but the coach believes that his offense will be potent again this fall.

“The offensive strength is that we have a great set of skill players and they all have speed,” Hendricks said. “Our offensive line also has guys with experience.

“But our offensive weakness is inexperience in certain spots,” the coach continued. “Many of our kids do not have ‘Friday night experience’. Hopefully they will progress as the season goes on.”

Tonight’s projected offensive alignment has Hunter Weidenborner at center, Billy Deer and Pat Voss as the guards plus Alex Johnson and Anderson Carter at the tackle spots.

Matt Breeze, Gaeton Roy and Ron Pearson also are expected to see line duty.

Ryan Hirt is the likely starter at tight end while Alex Fenson, Connor McNallan, Nick Gubbels, Jaylen Ingalls and Adam Loisel will share time at the wide receiver positions.

The projected backfield will include quarterback James Hendricks, fullbacks Tanner Boes and Tyler Kroening plus halfbacks Brady Schmidt and Wakinyan Moore.

“It will be hot Friday night and it will be important to get fluids into everybody,” the coach said. “If we can play 22 guys instead of 12 or 13 it will be to our advantage and that’s what we plan to do.”

Today’s probable defense will have Lucas Goins at noseguard, Josh Misco and Roman  Misco at the ends, Dylan Dickinson and Jeremiah Huseby inside, Schmidt and Troy Sauceda outside, Rich Seado and Nick Hovila at the corners and Sam Bruestle, Nick Gubbels and Ben Christopher as the safeties.

Also expected to see defensive duty are Ethan Haun, Kade Johnson, Aaron Bofferding, Nik Kavanagh, Robert Treuer and Ingalls.

“I think the strength of our defense is team speed,” Hendricks said. “The key is to get them to play fast. You do that through experience and getting the players comfortable with the schemes to the point where they react instead of having to think.”

Bemidji could have picked an easier location and opponent for its season opener. But Hendricks is glad that the Lumberjacks will face such an impressive foe tonight.

“What better place to open than Moorhead?” the coach said. “We’ll see what we are made of right away.”

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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