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FOOTBALL: Beavers seek homecoming redemption with return to lake jump

BSU’s iconic tradition of jumping in Lake Bemidji after a homecoming win is a necessity this year. After winning 10 such games in a row, the aquatic streak ended in 2021. That sour taste, plus two losses by a combined four points to start this season, pair for a pretty strong dose of motivation.

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The Beavers celebrate in Lake Bemidji after a 2018 homecoming win over Sioux Falls at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Pioneer file photo
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BEMIDJI -- Brent Bolte was pretty straightforward.

“It’s not an option,” he said. “We’re getting in the lake on Saturday.”

The hard and fast rule from the Bemidji State football team’s head coach is a course-corrector in multiple forms. It’s a season-altering, tradition-revamping, deepest-desire expectation for the Beavers.

“I really need to get in that lake,” wide receiver Brendan Beaulieu said. “The team needs to get in that lake.”

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Bemidji State's Brendan Beaulieu (19) dives for a catch in the first half against Minot State on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
(Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

BSU’s iconic tradition of jumping in Lake Bemidji after a homecoming win is a necessity this year. After winning 10 such games in a row, the aquatic streak ended in 2021. That sour taste, plus two losses by a combined four points to start this season, pair for a pretty strong dose of motivation.

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“It’d feel good to get that first win out of the way,” Beaulieu said. “Last year, it really did hurt not getting in there. Just seeing people after the game, it didn’t feel right. It felt like we let a lot of people down.”

Yet there isn’t an overwhelming sense of panic among the team. There’s an assurance in themselves, one that knows they are a solid team. Bemidji State is probably one of the best 0-2 teams in the country, and while that’s not exactly a desirable distinction, it still means the Beavers are a force to be reckoned with.

“This team’s got a pretty good swagger about them,” Bolte said. “We know, in this league, you’re probably going to win some games you shouldn’t, and you’ll lose some games you probably shouldn’t. The margin of victory is pretty small. … We have good enough football players to win football games at the end of the day. We’ve just got to find a way to do it.”

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Bemidji State junior Brandon Alt makes a pass in the third quarter against Minnesota State on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Winona State (2-0) stands in BSU’s way, but Bemidji State will counter with one of the biggest aerial threats in the country. Beaulieu currently ranks ninth in Division II with 255 receiving yards, while his quarterback Brandon Alt leads the country with 751 passing yards.

“Yeah, it’s crazy. It seems like we’re always on the same page,” said Beaulieu, who also played high school football with Alt in Cottage Grove. “(We have) plays where it’s like, ‘Well, I hope he knows I’m going there, even though I’m not supposed to be going there.’ He still throws it, and we still complete it.”

Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17, at Chet Anderson Stadium. And if all goes according to plan, Bemidji State will parade off the east end zone and back into the alluring lake waters.

“We know what we have as a team here,” Beaulieu said. “We just have to start out a little bit better and obviously finish the game after that. … The confidence is there, and it’s still high.”

Micah Friez is the sports editor at the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he joined the Pioneer in 2015 and is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State University with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Lumberjack and Beaver updates.
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