PREP FOOTBALL: After short preseason, Lumberjacks prepared for season opener
BEMIDJI -- Everything about the Bemidji High School football season thus far has been about getting an early start. Practices started a week earlier than normal this season due to the availability of TCF Bank Stadium for the state championship games.
BEMIDJI - Everything about the Bemidji High School football season thus far has been about getting an early start.
Practices started a week earlier than normal this season due to the availability of TCF Bank Stadium for the state championship games. The Lumberjacks adjusted accordingly.
And now, their season opener is also starting a bit earlier than normal, too.
The Lumberjacks’ game at St. Francis has been moved from 7 p.m. to 2 p.m. this afternoon with the threat of severe weather in that part of the state.
But for the Lumberjacks, things like the time of day or the weather don’t matter - they feel ready to play the Fighting Saints and get their season started no matter what.
“(After) two weeks you go, ‘OK have we had enough practice’,” said head coach Troy Hendricks. “But we actually do feel like it’s time to play a football game.”
It will be Bemidji’s first-ever trip to St. Francis, and just the second-ever meeting between the two teams. The Lumberjacks defeated the Saints 43-38 in last season’s Section 7-5A championship game in Bemidji, and Hendricks expects another good game for today’s rematch.
“We know they have quality guys coming back on both sides of the football,” he said. “But when you prepare for week one the focus has to be more on yourself and less on your opponent. We’re trying to be sound with what we’re doing.”
The Fighting Saints did lose a big weapon in running back John Santiago.
Santiago was a finalist for the 2014 Minnesota Mr. Football Award and won Second-Team All State honors.
But Santiago is now the running back at the University of North Dakota, leaving big shoes for someone to fill at St. Francis.
“Losing one of the best backs in the entire state is a huge thing,” said Bemidji senior Jalin Rose. “But I know they have another guy returning and we’ve heard he’s not too bad. We’re treating him as a John Santiago.”
Rose is filling a big spot himself for the Lumberjacks.
He’ll be replacing James Hendricks as the starting quarterback heading into the first game of the 2015 season.
“It was pretty exciting (being the starting quarterback),” Rose said. “I enjoyed taking most of the reps. It feels good, but I know I’m not set in stone so I still need to compete.”
Rose and the Lumberjacks continued to make strides during the second week of practices.
Hendricks hopes the intensity the players showed during practice will actually transfer into the game.
“The kids have been coming to practice prepared to learn everyday,” he said. “Now it’s going to come down to seeing how they respond when we face adversity. Good teams are going to make good plays and when those plays come how do we respond. I think we have enough leadership that we’ll be just fine.”