Week 1: Axemen vs. Blizzard – Preview

Bemidji, MN - The Bemidji Axemen will host the Green Bay Blizzard this Saturday, February 22 at the Sanford Center in what will be the first regular season game in Bemidji Axemen history. Kickoff is set to begin at 7:05 PM.

“We’re all excited to get out of training camp and start playing games that count. This is obviously big match up right off the bat with a lot of intriguing stories lines,” Axemen head coach Robert Fuller said. “I think for both coaching staffs and for both teams, our focus as been solely on what it takes to win.”

This will mark the first ever meeting between the Axemen and the Blizzard. Robert Fuller leads the Axemen into their first game of the regular season after previously serving as head coach for the Green Bay Blizzard for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

“Like us, Green Bay is a young, but talented football team,” Fuller reflected.  ”I don’t know if a lot of people throughout the league realize just how good they are.”

The Blizzard are coached by Chad Baldwin who will begin his first full season as the Green Bay Blizzard coach.  Baldwin took over during the season last year, replacing Fuller midway through the season. Baldwin served as a defensive coordinator before taking over head coach duties under Fuller while at Green Bay.  Green Bay finished their 2013 campaign with a 4-10 record.

The IFL’s only expansion team of 2014, the Bemidji Axemen, have several familiar faces on their roster, including former Green Bay wide receiver Ryan Baletine.  Balentine was 2 nd team All-IFL last season after catching a team high 74 passes for 834 yards and 12 touchdowns with the Blizzard.  The Axemen will also feature former Green Bay defensive back DeQuan Starling and wide receiver DeJay Lester in the starting lineup.  Under center for the Axemen will be Hunter Wanket in his second season in the IFL. Wanket played for the Nebraska Danger last season.

Other key IFL vets include wide receivers Thomas Gordon and Maurice Patterson, who came over this season after playing for the Wyoming Cavalry . The Axemen are coming off back to back pre-season games against the Cedar Rapids Titans, where their defensive proved to be a steady force.

The Green Bay Blizzard are coming off a 4-10 season after previously being one game away from playing in the 2012 United Bowl, the championship game of the Indoor Football League. Green Bay had a streak of 8 straight playoff appearances before that. The Green Bay Blizzard will be lead at quarterback by rookie, Taylor Perkins who played collegiately at the University of Sioux Falls. The Blizzard return several key players including, linebacker Derek Earls, running backs Lucien Walker and Kevin Morris, offensive linemen Tyler Hendrickson and William Maxwell.

“They are very well coached, they’ll play disciplined, physical football and our fans should expect one heck of a game,” said Fuller  ”Let’s not forget, this is another Minnesota vs. Wisconsin rivalry so I am sure fans on both sides won’t have any problem getting fired up for this game.”