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FOOTBALL: Historic pick-6, Hurricane Ian all part of Caleb Young’s crazy week

Caleb Young, a sophomore defensive back from Tampa, Fla., watched from afar as Hurricane Ian ripped through his home state. His big family back home braced for the worst, and Young kept in close contact with them as the Category 4 storm loomed.

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Bemidji State’s Jashon Roundtree (3) and Caleb Young (22) bring down Minnesota State Moorhead’s Grady Bresnahan in the second half on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
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BEMIDJI — As Caleb Young sprinted down the sideline last weekend -- off to the races for a historic 80-yard interception return for the Bemidji State football team -- his mind was on the end zone.

But if not for his father, distractions could have clouded his head instead.

“My dad was like, ‘Just lock in, focus on the football game. We’ll be all right back home,’” Young said. “But obviously it’s hard to not worry about them.”

Young, a sophomore defensive back from Tampa, Fla., watched from afar as Hurricane Ian ripped through his home state. His big family back home braced for the worst, and Young kept in close contact with them as the Category 4 storm loomed.

“Just talking with them, making sure everything’s OK,” Young said. “We live on the water. They didn’t evacuate, but they were preparing by putting boards up, putting sandbags outside.”

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Bemidji State’s Caleb Young (22) and Keontay Shorter (4) bring down Augustana’s Logan Uttecht (5) in the first half on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2021, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer

Tampa avoided the brunt of Hurricane Ian, providing Young some mental relief so that he could “just focus on the game that weekend.”

And sure enough, it proved to be a memorable one.

The Beavers beat Minot State 59-14 in their most dominant showing of the season. Young had the best highlight for the defense when he jumped a route in the third quarter and chugged 80 yards the other way.

RELATED: Olszewski brothers witness Hurricane Harvey from Bemidji State

The play stands as the fourth-longest interception return in program history. Only Michael Junker (100 yards in 2018), Jack Vinje (97 yards in 1948) and Jake West (96 yards in 2021) have covered more distance on a pick, while Ryan McCrady also returned an interception 80 yards in 2002.

“It was a huge play for Caleb and just for the team,” BSU head coach Brent Bolte said. “We’ve been close to getting some of those pick-sixes, deflected balls. It was nice to have it land in his lap and get (him) in the end zone.”

“(The wide receiver) was running a cross route, and (the quarterback) was staring him down,” Young recounted. “I tried to bait him into it a little bit. I caught the ball, and the defense did a great job blocking. You could see guys getting taken out left and right. It was a team effort.”
However, Young’s play was almost overshadowed by a teammate during the second quarter -- with “almost” being the key word.

“Jarrett Klein probably would have had a 90-yard interception return if he wouldn’t have tripped,” Bolte said of Klein, who intercepted a pass at the 2-yard line and had room to run, but fell victim to the turf monster 18 yards later. “The boys have been giving him a lot of grief about that.”

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The Bemidji State defense congratulates junior Jarrett Klein (33) after winning a drill during BSU's Green and White Spring Game on Saturday, April 16, 2022, at Chet Anderson Stadium.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

Nevertheless, Bemidji State got its pick-six through Young shortly after. And most importantly, Young got to share his moment with a family that’s still safe and sound.

“I have a lot of family down there, and everybody stayed safe,” Young said. “That’s just a relief to have because a lot of places got it bad down there. We were fortunate and blessed enough to not have that happen to us.”

Bemidji State returns home this week to host Concordia-St. Paul. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, at Chet Anderson Stadium.

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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