Willmar Football Preview
Bemidji (0-0) at Willmar 0-0
7 p.m. Friday at Hodapp Field, Willmar
BEMIDJI OVERVIEW: In the first-ever meeting last year in football, the Lumberjacks beat Willmar at Bemidji State University Stadium, 25-12. Bemidji has a "new-old" coach with the return of Troy Hendricks, a hometown native who was head coach for seven years, but resigned to become athletic director five years ago. The Lumberjacks, reclassified down to Class AAAA, return four seniors among their seven starters. Key backs graduated. After three consecutive 3-6 seasons and only three winning seasons since 1990, there's optimism with 45 freshmen in a total turnout of 110. The Lumberjacks, an independent, play seven of their eight games against Central Lakes Conference schools. Their other wins last fall came against Alexandria and Sartell.
WILLMAR OVERVIEW: Willmar (2-7 last year) is also under a new coach. Head coach Jon Konold, also the offensive coordinator, was hired this summer from Mankato West. He has two starters back on offense (QB Mark Dunham and WR Taylor Filipek). ILB Nathanial Swoyer, a junior captain, is the lone full-time starter back on defense, though OLB Adam Fagerstrom and DE Patrick Schueller each got several starts. Konold said the team played aggressively in the Litchfield scrimmage. The offense completed "a lot of passes" and executed the screens, but "needs to get more vertical," Konold said, referring to completing long passes.
Linebackers coach Steve Grove liked what he saw when the Cardinals were on defense. Besides Swoyer, Coty Milhausen, Eugene Stepan and Gabe Amon will share time inside; Filipek and Fagerstrom on the outside of the five-linebacker set.