Jake ‘Spidey’ Schmidt leads Bemidji State football team into homecoming game against Concordia-St. Paul

Bemidji State senior Jake Schmidt is looking forward to Saturday’s homecoming game against Concordia-St. Paul for a few reasons.

“We’re 4-1 and we’re in the hunt for everything we want,” he said. “Some of us seniors have been here five years and working hard to be where we are right now.”

Game time is 1 p.m. at Chet Anderson Stadium and the Beavers need a win against the Golden Bears (2-3 overall, 1-3 NSIC) to keep pace with the top of the NSIC. BSU (4-1, 3-1 NSIC) is tied for second place in the conference standings and are one game behind the first place tie between MSU, Mankato and Wayne State.

Schmidt, a safety, is one of five captains on the team this season. He’s a reserve player who has the respect of teammates and coaches.

“Jake is what college football is all about, BSU head coach Jeff Tesch said. “You need a dozen Jakes on your team to win. You can always count on Jake.”

Schmidt’s journey to a team captain started his red shirt freshman season in 2007 with a unusual health scare in his dorm at Oak Hall. He woke to a small spider bite on his leg three days after he moved to Bemidji.

“I didn’t think anything of it and I went to practice for a few days,” Schmidt said. “And four days later my leg was getting really red, swollen and hard to move.”

Schmidt talked to the BSU training staff about the spider bite during practice and was sent immediately to the hospital. The doctors diagnosed a case of septicimia – blood poisoning – and the bite could have been life threatening if it was left untreated.

“I had a red line running from my leg to my belly,” Schmidt said. If it reached my heart that means the poison can get to your heart and you can die.”

Days before the first home game Schmidt was bit by another spider in Oak Hall and the red line had returned the morning of game day. He rushed to the hospital emergency room and made it back to the stadium in time to run out with the team onto the field.

That’s how Schmidt earned his nickname: ‘Spidey.’

The Frederic, Wis. native carries the experience with him in a tattoo of a spider on his chest with the word ‘Ausdauer,’ which means perseverance in German.

“It’s just a reminder that you can persevere through anything,” Schmidt said. “If tough times come your way and things shouldn’t happen to you – even though it did – you can always become a better man for it.”

Schmidt was voted a team captain this summer by his teammates.

“It means the world to me,” Schmidt said. It means all my fellow teammates saw something in me they wanted to acknowledge. It’s one of the best things that’s ever happened to me honestly.”

Homecoming this year for Schmidt means one last opportunity to jump into Lake Bemidji – a BSU tradition after a homecoming victory.

The balanced Beavers have proved to be a contender in the NSIC during the first half of the season and homecoming this year is a rematch of the 20-14 Golden Bears victory last year in St. Paul.

“The offensive line is playing hard up front, Justin Lee is doing a lot as a receiver, Dustin Kroeplin is running the ball hard and Lance Rongstad is making good reads,” Schmidt said. “As far as defense, we’re playing fast, hitting hard and having a lot of fun out there. That’s a big difference this year.”

Follow Eric Stromgren on Twitter at @estromgren and on Facebook.