FOOTBALL: Beavers cap spring season with return of Green and White game
For the first time in more than a year, the Bemidji State football team dressed for a game with fans in the stands beside Lake Bemidji for Saturday's Green and White spring game.
BEMIDJI -- Game day was back at Chet Anderson Stadium on Saturday.
For the first time in more than a year, the Bemidji State football team dressed for a game with fans in the stands beside Lake Bemidji.
The return of the Green and White spring game was welcomed by the Beavers, which pitted teammates against one another to cap the spring practice season.
“You guys have no idea what it meant to be out there today,” head coach Brent Bolte said. “I felt like we got robbed of a fall (season) here at the Division II level. We were one of the very few teams that wasn’t able to compete this last year on campus. … The spring is kind of the real jumping point into the next year. It was awesome to get back out here.”
Snow has fallen during past BSU spring games. The conditions were far better Saturday.
The game kicked off under sunny skies and with warmer than average temperatures in the 80s.
“It’s just been a crazy year,” senior linebacker Gabe Ames said. “That’s nuts that it’s already been a year. But it was sweet to actually get back out here on this beautiful day and watch young guys and older guys make plays. It felt right. It felt like we were getting back to normal.”
The teams were officially referred to as the black and red teams to correspond with the jerseys each side’s quarterbacks wore. The black team prevailed 43-29 in a contest that used an altered scoring format and featured several mini-games and drills in addition to normal scrimmage play.
A draft was conducted beforehand to divvy out players to each team.
“This is the first year we’ve ever done that, and it’s probably because we have the depth to do it because of the amount of guys on the team,” Bolte said. “But our biggest thing going into the year is our first-string guys are good. We knew that going in. But we want to develop depth and you were seeing it today. … I kind of liked doing this because either side of the ball felt like winners or losers today. Both sides played really well.”
Junior wideout Brendan Beaulieu hauled in a number of highlight-reel receptions for the offense.
On the other side of the ball, junior defensive back Jake West intercepted two passes as one of the defensive standouts from the afternoon. His picks were among many plays that elicited cheers from the crowd of a few hundred. Family and friends of players were allowed to attend.
“It was a great atmosphere,” West said. “We haven’t played in front of our fans at home in like a year and a half. But it was great.”
Bemidji State had played a couple of scrimmages this spring, including against the University of Mary in Moorhead and with Valley City State in Grand Forks, N.D. Saturday’s scrimmage was the culmination of about 40 spring practices, more than the team usually has in most years.
“It’s been a grind actually,” Ames said. “It’s been a grind, but it’s been fun to develop depth like Bolte said. That was one of our main points because I feel every year, we get into games where we’ll lose a key guy and we don’t have much to back it up. It’s been key to developing our depth, and it’s been fun to just play football.”
Ames will be playing more football at the Chet this fall as he has chosen to use the NCAA’s extra year of eligibility to return for the 2021 season. He would’ve been a redshirt senior if there’d been a 2020 season.
The Beavers may return more players yet from their 2019 team that finished 8-3 overall and 6-1 in the NSIC North Division to take second.
There’s a few more months until fall, but before you know it, BSU will, at long last, be playing competitive games against outside competition. Saturday was the latest step in that direction.
“I do believe iron sharpens iron,” Bolte said. “We have a good group of dudes here, and so it was fun. … It’s going to be a fun team to watch.”