Blount: 'Spidey' providing Bemidji State with bite

  • Article by: RACHEL BLOUNT , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 18, 2011 - 6:28 AM

The senior captain leads a 6-1 Beavers team eyeing its first Division II playoff berth.

Jake Schmidt

Photo: Star Tribune, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

To this day, some members of Bemidji State's football team know their senior captain only as "Spidey." They couldn't tell you that his real name is Jake Schmidt, or that his nickname comes from a bizarre incident during his first week on campus when a spider bite sent him to the hospital with blood poisoning.

Schmidt isn't a superstar on a Beavers team that is 6-1 and off to its best start since 2000. He is, however, central to the close-knit brotherhood that has helped drive this season's success, and symbolic of the kind of player it is built upon. In 2007, Schmidt came to BSU from his tiny hometown of Frederic, Wis., and joined the football team as a walk-on safety. Five seasons later, his dedication and persistence have set a standard for a team pursuing its first NCAA Division II playoff berth.

Coach Jeff Tesch has done a masterful job of revitalizing the once-lowly program, leading it to 104 victories in the past 16 years -- more than it had earned in the previous 32 seasons. He's done it with guys like Schmidt, who were overlooked by other schools and eager to make names for themselves.

Or, in the case of Schmidt, nicknames. In a nod to the spider bites that sent him to the emergency room three times -- and the single-mindedness that made him so reluctant to miss any time with his team -- he now wears a tattoo of a spider on his chest, accompanied by the German word ausdauer, which means perseverance.

"Apparently, I could have died from it, which I figured out later," said Schmidt, part of the "Gang Green" defense that has been the Beavers' backbone this season. "But I'm pretty stubborn, and I enjoyed the fact that people knew who I was. It made me feel like I belonged. Now, I don't know what I'd do without football and all the friends and memories I've made."

This season has added many pages to Schmidt's mental scrapbook. The Beavers rose to No. 20 in the Division II rankings announced on Monday, their highest placement ever during the regular season.

In the preseason coaches' poll, Bemidji State was predicted to finish eighth in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference. Though the Beavers returned several skill players from a team that went 7-4 last year, they had to replace all the starters on their defensive line. The newcomers have exceeded Tesch's expectations, anchoring a defense that is one of the stingiest in the nation.

Bemidji State is ranked third among Division II teams in scoring defense (12.4 points per game) and second in rushing defense (67.9 yards per game). With the upperclassmen providing support and encouragement, the younger players have been quickly integrated into a smart, versatile unit that can adapt on the fly. The Beavers also are highly disciplined; they are one of the least-penalized teams in the NSIC, and their ball-control offense limits the amount of time the defense has to spend on the field.

Tesch has followed that defense-first philosophy for about seven years, building it by recruiting players such as Schmidt. After the first spider bite left him with a stiff, sore leg and a red line extending to his stomach, a trainer had to force Schmidt to leave practice early to see a doctor. When another bite created the same symptoms on the morning of his first home game, Schmidt raced to the emergency room, received treatment, drove back to the stadium and ran to the field so he wouldn't be late.

"We generally get good, hard-working kids, and that's exactly what Jake is," Tesch said. "That spider thing was a weird deal; he had to go through it twice, but he made sure he stayed with the team. He's a guy that's really worked himself into being a good, solid football player, and he's given us leadership skills, too."

Tesch said the closeness of this season's team has contributed to its success and made it fun to coach. The young players are eager to improve, while the older ones -- including Schmidt and fellow senior captain Brody Scheff, tied for sixth in D-II with five interceptions -- share their knowledge.

They have progressed, Tesch said, in the three games since they fell 26-23 to No. 11 Minnesota Duluth for their only loss of the season. Schmidt's "Spidey" sense tells him the Beavers shouldn't look too far ahead. But in a season like this one, it's hard not to dream.

"It's always been my goal to make the playoffs," Scheff said. "That would be the ultimate. But the biggest thing is to just keep winning."

Rachel Blount •

  • related content

  • NCAA Division II football poll: 'Dogs up, Huskies down

    Tuesday November 8, 2011

    ACFA Division II College Football PollTeam (First-place votes)RecordPointsPrevious Rank1. Delta State Statesmen (27)9-172312. Colorado State-Pueblo ThunderWolves10-068343. Midwestern...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Houston 23 FINAL
Pittsburgh 30
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 98 FINAL
Cleveland 107
New Orleans 88 FINAL
Washington 84
Milwaukee 120 FINAL
New York 107
Philadelphia 88 FINAL
Brooklyn 99
Charlotte 114 FINAL
Atlanta 117
Sacramento 99 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Memphis 103 FINAL
Dallas 108
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Montreal 10/24/14 5:30 PM
Saskatchewan 10/24/14 8:30 PM
Hamilton 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters


Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 am
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa TBA
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State TBA
Nov 22 - at Nebraska TBA
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin TBA




question of the day

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

Weekly Question