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FOOTBALL: Jacks to host winless Sartell-St. Stephen

BEMIDJI -- With three straight games in the loss column, the Lumberjacks football team needs a win, and today is their chance to get it.

Sartell-St. Stephen is coming to town with an 0-6 record for Bemidji’s first home game since its 41-21 loss to Moorhead on Sept. 22.

“There’s no question that we’ve had three very stiff opponents (the last three weeks),” BHS head coach Troy Hendricks said. “Our schedule this year has actually been extremely difficult from the start with Rogers to the end with (St. Cloud) Tech next week. It matches up with just about anybody’s in the state.

“Sartell is a very proud program that’s been extremely successful over the years. They’re struggling a little bit this year. I guess we don’t think about it as a nice opportunity for us – we look at every Friday as an opportunity, and hopefully we can get ourselves on track on both sides of the football against Sartell (Friday) night.”

The losses the Jacks (2-4) have suffered the last three weeks haven’t been due to scoring scarcity. They put up 21 points against Moorhead, 43 against Brainerd and 42 against Alexandria. According to Hendricks, improvement on the ground is to blame for the high scores, and that starts with quarterback Jacob Beberg’s decision-making in the triple option.

“Jacob’s playing well, the offensive line is wearing down the opponents right now,” Hendricks said. “And guys like Calvin (Faust) are running the ball extremely well. They’re coming into their own. Jordan Anderson had a nice game last week as a slot – he’s coming into his own. Alec (White) has been consistent. Caleb Grant, all those guys are doing a great job, and we’re still able to keep teams honest with Ryan Bieberdorf (through the air).”

One struggle with the offense, though, is the first drive of the game. Bemidji received the opening kick in each of the last three games.

Moorhead turned a three-and-out into an 81-yard Otis Weah touchdown run, Brainerd turned a Bemidji fumble on the second play into a drive that ended in a Charlie Geraets punch-in at the goal line and Alexandria intercepted a pass on the second play from scrimmage and scored a few plays later.

The Jacks will look to turn that around tonight.

“We’re starting out a little bit slow in all phases,” said Hendricks. “The first series of our games, we’re just not executing, so we need to come out of the gate strong offensively and defensively and create some momentum right away.”

Since last week’s loss to Alexandria likely puts the third seed out of reach for Bemidji, the last two weeks will decide who, Bemidji or Sartell-St. Stephen, will get home field advantage in the play-in game as the fourth seed hosting the fifth seed.

“Wherever we are, we are, but we want to create momentum into the playoffs,” Hendricks said. “This Friday is a huge game for that. Re-establish momentum within our program. This is a big game. This is a big game for the four-five (No. 4-seed vs. No. 5-seed section game) right now, Sartell and Bemidji, and for us it potentially sets us up for a home game.”