BEMIDJI -- The first official practice of the Bemidji High School football season was cold, wet and windy. But it was anything but miserable.

“It’s definitely weird,” senior quarterback Brett Tharaldson said of the delayed start. “We’re almost into October now. But that doesn’t matter for us. We’re locked in and ready to go.”

Although opening day’s typical heat of early August was traded for the cool winds of late September, Monday was a preview of what’s likely to come in a delayed season that will stretch into deep November.

No matter for the Lumberjacks, though. Simply having a season is enough to keep spirits high.

“It’s super exciting,” senior wide receiver Matt Arel said. “(The fall season) was kind of up in the air, and we were hoping we’d have a season. Here we are. We’ve worked hard our whole lives for this moment, and now we’re here. So I’m super excited to play.”

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Lumberjack senior Matt Arel (14) makes a leaping catch during Monday's practice at the high school. (Micah Friez / Bemidji Pioneer)
Lumberjack senior Matt Arel (14) makes a leaping catch during Monday's practice at the high school. (Micah Friez / Bemidji Pioneer)

When the Minnesota State High School League reversed its decision to move football to the spring, allowing for a season this fall, BHS and other teams across the state had to hurry in order to be ready for a fast-approaching week one. That was a focus on opening day of practice at the high school.

“We’ve got a little bit shorter preseason this year,” Arel said. “We’ve got to have a dialed-in focus every day and be ready to bust it on every rep.”

Bemidji finished 8-2 a year ago, falling one win shy of back-to-back section titles. Now with a shot at redemption, Tharaldson is happy to go out and chase a championship one more time alongside his teammates.

“It’s a blessing to have one last season with my brothers,” Tharaldson said. “It’s definitely a high-tempo feeling. I’m excited to be back. It’s high-tempo all around.”

Their schedule has not yet been released for this season, but the Jacks are certain they’ll be ready to go by the first edition of Friday Night Lights. The first possible date for games is Oct. 9. If Monday was any indication, opening kickoff can’t come soon enough for BHS.

“You can feel the energy in all the guys,” Arel said. “Everyone is flying around and trying to prove their spot. There’s just a lot of energy in practice.”