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MIKE McCLEARY/Tribune Ben Jolliffe of Bismarck against West Fargo. 8-27-2011

There must be times when playing quarterback for the Bismarck Demons is akin to being an Acme Automatic Handoff Machine.

After all, how much pizzazz is there in giving the ball to a tailback who will gallop for anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 yards?

However, the current job holder is Ben Jolliffe, and if you want to hear him complain, you’re in for a long wait.

“Not at all,” Jolliffe responded when asked if he ever gets frustrated with the task of feeding Layne Johs, Riley Plant or Ricardo Galindo the ball 40 times a game. “Whatever helps the team win.”

The Demons do win. They’ve marched into the state AAA championship game the past five years, winning three times.

When Jolliffe does get the opportunity to put the ball up he has some talented playmates with whom to play pitch-and-catch. Nick Kottre is fourth in the West Region with 5 catches for 99 yards, and Brett Adam has 43 yards in two catches. Each has grabbed a scoring pass from Jolliffe.

Jolliffe ranks fourth in the region in passing on 11-for-28 accuracy for two touchdowns and no interceptions.

As a second-year starter, Jolliffe, a 6-foot-2, 180-pound senior, said he figured out long ago that his role is not to lead the state in passing.

“Obviously at Bismarck High we run first,” Jolliffe said. “If we see something in the defense that we can jump on by throwing the ball, we will.”

Johs, the BHS tailback; Plant, the fullback, and Galindo, the backup tailback, have accounted for 451 of Bismarck’s 529 rushing yards and eight of the team’s 12 TDs. Johs, a swift 5-11, 210-pound senior, leads the region in rushing and scoring with 291 yards on 31 carries with four touchdowns.

When it comes to Jolliffe’s targets, he said Adam and Kottre are cast in the same mold.

“Brett Adam has started three years now, and he’s one of the quickest guys on the field. Once he gets the ball he can take it all the way at any time,” Jolliffe said. “Nick (Kottre) is a smaller guy, like Brett, and he flies.”

Bismarck, the defending state champion, is off to a 2-0 start with a 29-0 victory over West Fargo and a 52-7 triumph over Fargo Davies.

Jolliffe said the Demons have a long way to go in order to become the team they think they can be.

“We took a step forward in Week 2, but we still have a lot to work on to get ready for the playoffs,” he said.

Ben’s older brother, Nick, is a 2010 graduate of BHS. Nick was a three-sport man and played on state championship teams in football and basketball.

Thus far, Ben has competed in four sports — football, basketball, track and baseball — at Bismarck High with state titles in football and track. He played baseball as a sophomore but switched to track last spring, placing fifth in the state in the high jump and eighth in the triple jump.

Football is the one that excites the most passion in the senior quarterback.

“It’s definitely football,” he said. “... I’d really like to play college football.”

Ben’s first appearance in a Demons uniform was as a defensive back as a sophomore. Mostly, however, he’s played quarterback, ever since his Midget football days in the fifth grade.

Bismarck has enjoyed great success in football in recent years. That fact didn’t elude Ben when he became the Demons quarterback.

“I don’t want to say there’s pressure, but the guys before you set that (tradition) up, so you’re representing them, too,” he said. “But in the long run you’ve got to take it one play at a time and get better each week.”

Bismarck plays host to Devils Lake at 7 p.m. tonight at the Community Bowl. Just two weeks into the season, the Demons and Firebirds are two of the four remaining AAA unbeatens.

It’s the third straight nonregional game for the Demons, and interim head coach Dale Colby likes the setup.

“It helps us because we get a chance to see a lot of different kids,” Colby said.

Thus the Demons can spend one more week evaluating and adjusting while the other six West Region teams are playing their league openers.

Colby said Bismarck’s victory over Davies was a much better performance than the opener with West Fargo.

“We were more aggressive and played with more excitement. ... We got better on our assignments and making adjustments. They’re getting it,” Colby said.

CLASS AAA FOOTBALL

WEST REGION

Region Overall

Team W L W L

Bismarck 0 0 2 0

Minot 0 0 2 0

Century 0 0 1 1

Dickinson 0 0 1 1

Mandan 0 0 1 1

Williston 0 0 1 1

Jamestown 0 0 0 2

Friday, Aug. 31

Devils Lake 34, Mandan 28, 2OT

Bismarck 52, Fargo Davies 7

Williston 22, Sidney (Mont.) 7

Minot 38, Grand Forks Central 7

Grand Forks Red River 26, Jamestown 0

Custer County (Mont.) 42, Dickinson 28

Saturday, Sept. 1

Century 29, West Fargo 15

Friday, Sept. 7

Century at Dickinson, 7 p.m. MDT

Bismarck at Devils Lake, 7 p.m.

Jamestown at Mandan, 7 p.m.

Williston at Minot

WEST REGION STATISTICS

TEAM OFFENSE

Team Pts. Rush Pass Total

Bismarck 40.5 264.5 87.5 352.0

Minot 37.5 269.0 66.5 335.5

Dickinson 36.0 222.5 85.5 308.0

Century 24.5 123.5 152.5 276.0

Mandan 21.0 131.5 218.0 349.5

Williston 11.0 63.0 24.5 87.5

Jamestown 9.5 143.0 114.0 257.0

TEAM DEFENSE

Team Pts. Rush Pass Total

Bismarck 3.5 46.5 67.0 113.5

Minot 10.0 50.0 70.0 120.0

Dickinson 21.0 77.0 102.5 179.5

Williston 21.0 101.5 6.0 107.5

Mandan 23.5 86.0 105.0 191.0

Jamestown 24.0 217.5 120.5 338.0

Century 24.5 172.0 158.0 330.0

n NOTE: Scoring, rushing, passing and total yardage calculated for West Region teams on a per-game basis.

INDIVIDUAL OFFENSE

Rushing: 1. Layne Johs, Bismarck, 31-291. 2. Alex Yanosko, Minot, 29-258. 3. Michael Cherwinski, Dickinson, 14-187. 4. Matt Ziemann, Mandan, 33-175. 5. Anthony Cook, Jamestown, 42-170. 6. Brady Lampert, Minot, 26-168. 7. Ricardo Galindo, Bismarck, 15-105. 8. Dylan Skabo, Dickinson, 11-83. 9. Jared Fischer, Century, 21-81. 10. Dylan Leutz, Century, 25-72.

Passing yards: 1. Ross Effertz, Mandan, 20-48-3, 436 yards. 2. Jared Fischer, Century, 23-31-2, 306. 3. Matt Grounds, Jamestown, 16-31-1, 228. 4. Ben Jolliffe, Bismarck, 11-28-0, 175. 5. Dylan Skabo, Dickinson, 8-17-2, 139. 6. Alex Yanosko, Minot, 16-34-1, 122. 7. Mac Rohr, Dickinson, 4-7-0, 32. 8. Chandler Jacob, Minot, 1-2-1, 11.

Touchdown passes: 1. (tie) Ross Effertz, Mandan, and Jared Fischer, Century, 4. 3. Dylan Skabo, Dickinson, 3. 4. Matt Grounds, Jamestown, 2. 5. Alex Yanosko, Minot, 1.

Receiving yards: 1. Daniel Peterson, Mandan, 8-228. 2. Drew Wiseman, Century, 5-157. 3. Brady Zittleman, Mandan, 4-113. 4. Nick Kottre, Bismarck, 5-99. 5. C.J. Soulis, Jamestown, 5-98. 6. Jordan Krieg, Dickinson, 5-67. 7. Sean Lindberg, Jamestown, 4-64. 8. Taren Staudinger, Dickinson, 3-59. 9. Brandon Van Dusen, Minot, 8-58. 10. Nathan Schmidt, Mandan, 5-55.

Total offense: 1. Ross Effertz, Mandan, 460 yards. 2. Jared Fischer, Century, 386. 3. Alex Yanosko, Minot, 380. 4. Layne Johs, Bismarck, 291. 5. Matt Grounds, Jamestown, 286. 6. Dylan Skabo, Dickinson, 222. 7. Michael Cherwinski, Dickinson, 187. 8. Ben Jolliffe, Bismarck, 181. 9. Matt Ziemann, Mandan, 175. 10. Anthony Cook, Jamestown, 170.

Scoring: 1. Layne Johs, Bismarck, 28. 2. Alex Yanosko, Minot, 24. 3. (tie) Ricardo Galindo, Bismarck; Brady Lampert, Minot; Dylan Skabo, Dickinson, and Drew Wiseman, Century; 18. 7. Ben Love, Minot, 13. 8 (tie) Jace Dukart, Dickinson; Alex Haaland, Williston, and Daniel Peterson, Mandan, all 12.

Field goals: 1. Ben Love, Minot, 3. 2. Dominic Neameyer, Century, 2.

EAST REGION

Region Overall

Team W L W L

Devils Lake 0 0 2 0

G.F. Red River 0 0 2 0

Fargo Davies 0 0 1 1

Fargo South 0 0 1 1

Fargo North 0 0 0 2

G.F. Central 0 0 0 2

West Fargo 0 0 0 2

Friday, Aug. 31

Devils Lake 34, Mandan 28, 2 OT

Bismarck 52, Fargo Davies 7

Fargo Shanley 20, Fargo North 7

Fairbault (Minn.) 35, Fargo South 21

Minot 38, Grand Forks Central 7

Grand Forks Red River 26, Jamestown 0

Saturday, Sept. 1

Century 29, West Fargo 15

Friday, Sept. 7

West Fargo at Fargo Davies

Fargo South at Fargo North

Grand Forks Red River at Grand Forks Central

Devils Lake at Bismarck

EAST REGION STATISTICS

Offense: 1. Grand Forks Red River 30.5 points per game. 2. Devils Lake 28.0. 3. Fargo South 27.5. 4. Fargo Davies 14.0. 5. (tie) Fargo North and Grand Forks Central, 10.0. 7. West Fargo 7.5.

Defense: 1. Grand Forks Red River 0.0 points allowed per game. 2. Devils Lake 23.5. 3. Grand Forks Central 26.0. 4. Fargo South 27.5. 5. Fargo North 28.5. 6. West Fargo 29.5. 7. Fargo Davies 36.0.

Reach reporter Steve Thomas at  250-8244 or steve.thomas@bismarcktribune.com.

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