For habitues of AAA football, the phrase “Bismarck Demons” brings to mind a power running game and nasty, grudging defense.
Last year’s state runner-up BHS team boasted a defensive unit that ranks with the best in school history.
So Demons head coach Mark Gibson had a hard time swallowing this year’s 52-29 opening game with Grand Forks Red River, even if it did go in the win column.
“The first two weeks I didn’t know what team I was watching,” Gibson said. “... We challenged some of those guys to take their game up to a different notch. They needed to show some leadership for the young guys.”
Senior middle linebacker Alex Seibel was one of the defenders who responded with a flourish.
“I definitely knew I had to get a lot better overall. We lost a lot of seniors who really helped us on defense last year, so everyone who played last year really had to step up,” said Seibel, a sturdy 5-foot-7,195-pounder.
Bismarck defeated West Fargo 21-14 in its second game, but still gave up 264 yards.
A 55-7 victory at Dickinson in the third game was a strong performance, even by BHS standards. Bismarck surrendered only 84 total yards, including just 47 on the ground in 33 attempts.
That boosted the No. 2-ranked Demons to 3-0 going into a bye week. Tonight Bismarck heads for Williston in search of its fourth victory. Other West Region games tonight have Mandan at Minot and Dickinson at Jamestown. All are 7 p.m. starts.
Since he was a wee guy, Seibel has played all manner of sports. When he was really small he played hockey and soccer. Then it was on to youth baseball and football. In middle school at Simle he settled on football, baseball, track and basketball.
Seibel trimmed back to football, baseball and track after his sophomore year. He plays third base and pitches occasionally for the BHS baseball team and competes in the throws in track.
Last spring he qualified for the state meet in the discus.
Seibel said athletics were a big part of life for him and his older brother, Josh, when he was growing up.
“My parents never forced me to be in sports. I wanted to be. I thought they were all really fun,” he said.
Football is where he feels the most at home, however.
“With my body type, football is probably the best for me, and it’s the most fun,” he said.
Because he likes contact, football is also his favorite sport.
Seibel broke into the BHS lineup last fall as a middle linebacker and earned all-region honors.
Individual honors aren’t his motivation as a senior, however. His definition of a successful season is in the context of team achievements.
“We definitely always have a goal of winning state at the end,” he said. “If we know we played our hardest and we played every game the best we could, we’ll be successful.”
As a senior, Seibel says he’s well aware of the sand sifting through the hourglass.
“It’s definitely different as a senior. Every game you know the season is getting closer to the end and you realize it could be the last time you play,” he said. “... In a way it’s easier because you know what you have to do, but you have to work harder as a senior because it’s your last year.”
Wearing a maroon Demons uniform is a demanding task. BHS teams have played in the last seven AAA state championship games with titles in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012.
“The expectations are probably the same every year. You’ve got to try your hardest every game and keep getting better every week,” Seibel said. “... We don’t have that many games (in football) and you know there are other teams getting better. You don’t want them go get by you.”
Seibel was a two-way player — running back and linebacker — in middle school. He still gets in a few downs at fullback, but Gibson is hesitant to put him on the field much with the offensive unit.
“He’s awfully valuable to us on defense,” Gibson emphasized.
Seibel said middle linebacker and fullback are completely different animals.
“On offense you usually know who you’ll be hitting before the play. On defense you’re looking for the guy with the ball,” he said. “... I like to hit people, so even if I’m not going to the right spot I’ll usually just hit the first person I see.”
There’s no doubt Seibel has good football instincts. His focus this season is on agility and mobility.
“I was heavier last year. I lost some weight and tried to get faster, and it’s helped,” he said.
Seibel is part of a small core of senior returning defensive regulars. He said he first began playing with defensive backs Peyton Kringlie and J.D. Tollefson and linebacker Brody Rohlfs at Simle. Linebacker Coleton Ford and defensive back Dalton Sanders played with him on defense for the first time last season.
Each season Gibson expects his seniors to exert a strong positive influence on the team. Seibel said he’s growing into that role.
“You have to be more of a leader as you get older,” Seibel said. “I’ve gotten better at that since the beginning of the year. I’m getting to know all of my teammates and I’m more comfortable telling then what to do.”
The Demons are coming out of their bye week, and Gibson doesn’t think they’ve profited from the extra time off.
“The things we were worried about were our timing and jelling,” Gibson said. “In the Dickinson game we achieved some of that and now it seems like we haven’t played forever.
“To be brutally honest we’ve had a terrible week of practice. I wasn’t in favor of (the bye week) and I don’t think the kids were, either, but there’s nothing we can do about it.”
An open week is a benefit for injured players, but Gibson said that wasn’t an issue at this point.
“We didn’t need to heal,” he said.
W L W L
Century 2 0 2 2
Bismarck 1 0 3 0
Jamestown 1 1 3 1
Minot 1 1 2 2
Dickinson 1 1 1 3
Williston 0 1 1 2
Mandan 0 2 0 4
Friday, Sept. 26
Mandan at Minot, 7 p.m.
Bismarck at Williston, 7 p.m.
Dickinson at Jamestown, 7 p.m.
West Region statistics
Offense: 1. Bismarck 42.7 points per game. 2. Jamestown 23.2. 3. Century 21.7. 4. Minot 19.7. 5. Dickinson 14.7. 6. Mandan 14.5. 7. Williston 13.7.
Defense: 1. Jamestown, 10.0 points allowed per game. 2. Bismarck 16.7. 3. Minot 20.5. 4. Williston 22.0. 5. Mandan 25.0. 6. Dickinson 27.5. 7. Century, 29.2.
Rushing: 1. Karter Gorney, Min, 109-631. 2. Jaxon Ford, B, 56-346. 3. Chris Kraft, C, 55-300. 4. Kass Dvorak, D, 64-276. 5. Nick Miller, Man, 60-260.
Passing yards: 1. Ross Monson, J, 39-91-1, 626. 2. Hayden Gibson, B, 37-53-1, 484. 3. Ben Bolinske, Min, 42-75-2, 473. 4. Jake Carlson, Man, 41-85-2, 457. 5. Boston Horob, W, 21-53-6, 348.
Touchdown passes: 1. Ross Monson, J, 6. 2. (tie) Hayden Gibson, B, and Jake Carlson, Man, 5. 4. Chris Kraft, C, 4. 5. Boston Horob, W, 3.
Receiving yards: 1. Noah Wanzek, J, 14-245. 2. LeCarl Branch, W, 12-202. 3. Adam Geiger, C, 12-183. 4. Logan Anderson, J, 8-173. 5. Jesse Bruner, Man, 9-171.
Total offense: 1. Ross Monson, J, 685. 2. Chris Kraft, C, 641. 3. Karter Gorney, Min, 631. 4. Jake Carlson, Man, 554. 5. Boston Horob, W, 524.
Scoring: 1. (tie) Jaxon Ford, B, and Karter Gorney, Min, 42. 3. Ben Hanson, J, 27. 4. (tie) Kass Dvorak, D; Scott Nelson, J; and Dalton Sanders, B, 24..
Field goals: 1. Ben Hanson, J, 4. 2. Tony Kostelecky, D, 2.
n NOTE: Mandan individual statistics do not include results of the Fargo South game.
W L W L
Fargo South 2 0 4 0
Fargo Davies 2 0 4 0
West Fargo 2 0 2 2
Devils Lake 1 1 1 2
Fargo North 1 1 1 3
G.F. Central 0 2 1 3
G.F. Red River 0 2 1 3
W.F. Sheyenne 0 2 0 3
Friday, Sept. 26
Devils Lake at Fargo South
W.F. Sheyenne at G.F. Red River
Fargo North at West Fargo
G.F. Central at Fargo Davies
East Region statistics
Offense: 1. Fargo South 39.7 points per game. 2. Fargo Davies 38.2. 3. Devils Lake 32.0. 4. G.F. Red River 24.7. 5. West Fargo 24.2. 6. W.F. Sheyenne 19.3. 7. G.F. Central 12.0. 8. Fargo North 8.5.
Defense: 1. West Fargo, 15.5 points allowed per game. 2. Fargo South 18.0. 3. Fargo Davies 22.0. 4. G.F. Central 28.7. 5. Fargo North 31.5. 6. Devils Lake 32.3. 7. G.F. Red River 35.5. 8. W.F. Sheyenne 39.3.