FOOTBALL: Ethan Biehn follows Jacks’ pipeline to Chet, Beavers sign 30-plus
Bemidji High School senior Ethan Biehn won’t have to worry a whole lot about being the first BHS football player to transition to BSU. His reasons to sign extended far beyond familiarity, though.
BEMIDJI – Bemidji High School senior Ethan Biehn won’t have to worry a whole lot about being the first BHS football player to transition from a Lumberjack to a Beaver. In fact, he’ll be accompanied by four former BHS teammates from the previous class, plus Colton Hinrichs from two classes ago.
For Biehn, his reasoning to sign with the Bemidji State football team and continue playing at Chet Anderson Stadium extended beyond former teammates and familiarity.
“They're an amazing football program,” he said. “Being able to go there just shows that if you can compete, you're going to be able to have super, super high expectations. And I'm so excited to be part of that winning culture. If you can compete, you'll be able to go far.”
The Beavers have competed exceptionally well over the past few seasons, establishing a new program benchmark in back-to-back years with runs to the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament. Biehn’s done his share of winning in high school, reaching the Section 8-5A Championship in his junior season with the Lumberjacks.
College football presents a different challenge, though. Biehn, a three-sport athlete at BHS, wasn’t sure whether he’d pursue baseball, basketball or football at BSU. He’s not closing the door on playing multiple sports, but the football field – where he’s racked up his most notable highlights – will be his initial focus.
“I've given thought to playing baseball,” Biehn said. “I know it's a big dedication. Gunner Olszewski played (both) back in the day. It's a legacy to live up to, but for now, I'm sticking with football. It's obviously something that crosses your mind. But at this point, where you’ve got to balance football, baseball and school, it's something where I think I'm just going to choose playing football and school at this point.”
Olszewski, a former Bemidji State all-conference standout at cornerback and current four-year NFL veteran, represents somewhat of an ideal scenario for Biehn. The two share similar body types and abundant athleticism, but Biehn knows he has plenty of work to do to reach that point.
“Best-case scenario is the NFL,” Biehn said. “But yeah, if you have the mentality that you want to be like Gunner Olszewski, and I have that mentality, I mean, super amazing football player. That’s a guy you want to look up to, and if you can play with that mentality that you want to play like) him, I think it's just going to bring success.”
Beavers add Blackduck’s Ridge Flatness, Iowa QB
As a whole, Bemidji State signed 31 players in its 2023 class. They hail from Minnesota (14 players), Wisconsin (seven), Iowa (five), North Dakota (two), Illinois (two) and South Dakota (one).
Blackduck running back/linebacker Ridge Flatness accompanies Biehn as another local prep standout to join the Beavers. He will commence his career on the defensive side of the ball. Biehn, who played cornerback and receiver with the Jacks while also taking handoffs out of the backfield, plans to start his BSU career on offense, with some potential special teams snaps mixed in.
“The more that you can move guys around in general, it makes it harder on defenses,” BSU head coach Brent Bolte said. “It's just a matter of how much punishment you can take and give when you're a smaller-statured guy. … Ethan, you go and watch him play basketball, you go watch him play baseball, he’s a winner, right?
“... He’s going to compete. If it was hopscotch, he’s going to get his hide out there ready to throw blows. He's that way. So we're excited. I'll be interested to see where he develops and where he lands, but certainly slot receiver and punt return, kick return(s) would be a natural fit for him.”
Bemidji State also added a possible successor to All-American seventh-year quarterback Brandon Alt: Connor Carver from Fort Dodge, Iowa. Bolte complimented Carver’s potential while noting how precious his opportunity to learn from Alt would be in 2023.
“Couldn’t be more excited to have Connor Carver,” Bolte said. “I'll be honest with you, I was nervous. Connor was an early commit to us, and it was just like trying to dodge things to see if he was going to get through the Division I corridor. And he made it, even though he got some offers, a lot of interest from those schools later.
“But he's a guy that we targeted A-No. 1. Reminds me a little bit of Alt out of high school. He can run, he has a huge arm, a lot of leadership characteristics. … He's got all the tools and we expect him to be the next great quarterback here at BSU. That's what we're hoping for.”