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FOOTBALL: Gabe Ames named NSIC North Preseason DPOY, Beavers picked 6th

Bemidji State opens the new season with a 6 p.m. showdown at Sioux Falls on Sept. 2 before returning home to host Wayne State at 2 p.m. on Sept. 11.

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Bemidji State linebacker Gabe Ames (9) takes part in the team's first practice of the 2019 season at Chet Anderson Stadium. (Pioneer file photo)

BURNSVILLE -- The imminent return of college football on the shores of Lake Bemidji comes with a familiar preseason award for one of Bemidji State’s best.

BSU senior linebacker Gabe Ames was named the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference’s North Division Preseason Defensive Player of the Year on Tuesday, the second straight season that Ames had reeled in the honor. The Beavers were also picked sixth in the conference’s preseason poll, which includes a second-place spot in the North Division.

Bemidji State finished the 2019 season with an 8-3 record, placing fourth overall in the conference, before sitting out 2020 due to the pandemic. Ames is a three-time All-NSIC selection who played in nine games and totalled 38 tackles as a junior. He enters the year with 159 career tackles and is the program’s active leader.

BSU garnered 117 points to sit sixth in the league. Minnesota State tallied a conference-high 168 points, alongside 12 of 14 first-place votes, while Minnesota Duluth had 144 points and Augustana 140. Sioux Falls (135) and Winona State (126) rounded out the top five.

In the North Division poll, UMD had all but one first-place vote and racked up 36 points. The Beavers were second with 31 points and got the other first-place vote, while Concordia-St. Paul (26 points) came in third. CSP has joined the NSIC North in football after Minnesota Crookston and St. Cloud State -- both North Division schools -- eliminated their football programs after the 2019 season.

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Additionally, Ames and senior wide receiver Malik Williams were named BSU’s Players to Watch on defense and offense, respectively.

Williams, a native of Lake Worth, Fla., was an NSIC North Division All-Conference First Teamer in 2019. He had 547 receiving yards on 53 receptions and nine touchdown catches as a junior.

Bemidji State opens the new season with a 6 p.m. showdown at Sioux Falls on Sept. 2 before returning home to host Wayne State at 2 p.m. on Sept. 11.

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