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FOOTBALL: Lumberjacks feel prepared going into season opener

Jacob Beberg, left, and Ryan Bieberdorf celebrate a play on Wednesday during practice at BHS. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer)1 / 3
Jacob Beberg hands the ball off to Caleb Grant on Wednesday during practice at BHS. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer)2 / 3
Jacob Beberg passes the ball on Wednesday during practice at BHS. (Jordan Shearer | Bemidji Pioneer)3 / 3

BEMIDJI -- Week One has arrived, and the Bemidji High School football team is prepared to hit the road to open the season against Rogers tonight after a final run-through of offensive, defensive and special teams schemes Wednesday afternoon.

“The goal for our practice today is just to be assignment-sharp and make sure that we’re mentally focused on our assignments,” BHS head coach Troy Hendricks said. “I thought we did a really nice job of understanding our responsibilities on both special teams – all of them – and offense and defense. The kids were mentally locked in.”

The Lumberjacks hosted the Royals for the season-opener a season ago, and Bemidji came out on top 24-21. The Jacks went on to finish 3-5 in the regular season and 4-6 overall, while Rogers ended the regular season with a six-game winning streak to finish 6-2 before falling to St. Cloud Tech 40-14 in the opening round of the Section 6-5A tournament.

“Last year, we beat a good Rogers team and we won the turnover battle in game one,” Hendricks said. “We’ve got to win the turnover battle (tomorrow), and we have to be mistake-free. The team that makes the fewest mistakes and wins the turnover battle is probably going to win this game.”

What does Hendricks know about the Royals going into the matchup?

“Absolutely nothing,” he said. “I just know the history of their program, and you look back at them as a program and they’re solid every single year. They’re typically always a section contender, so we expect them to be a really stiff competition and it’s going to take our best effort to get a W.”

The Lumberjacks will feature a better-balanced attack through the air this season after sending the majority of passes Ryan Bieberdorf’s way last fall, Hendricks said, with wide receivers Matt Arel, Kade Peterson, Zak Justice and Nick Snell expected to get targets today. Colton Jensen also figures into the BHS receiving corps this season, but is sidelined this week due to a concussion.

“We’ll be a little more diverse,” Hendricks said. “We have more weapons to throw the ball to, rather than just Ryan (Bieberdorf), this year. We have more kids that can run the ball and throw the ball.”

Out of the backfield, senior Caleb Grant, Justice, junior Isaiah Reed and sophomore Will Faldorf will be included in the touches.

Bemidji will field a faster team this year, according to Hendricks, and the Jacks feel ready to get the season started.

“The only thing that matters right now is game one,” Hendricks said. “Let’s take care of business tomorrow. Let’s play mistake-free football and see how it goes... We feel really good about where we’re at right now.”