Bismarck turned a lot of question marks into exclamation points Saturday night at the Community Bowl.
The Bismarck Demons, green at many positions, rolled over West Fargo 54-13 in the season Class AAA football opener for both teams.
Both teams are expected to be among the best in the state. West Fargo was the preseason favorite to win the East Region title, and BHS was rated No. 2 in the West.
Bismarck's interior offensive line, brand spanking new, was the boss of the bowl. With the big guys - an average of 245 - leading the way, the Demons piled up 238 yards on the ground and cranked out 19 first downs.
West Fargo had no answer.
"I really feel Bismarck is that much better than us," West Fargo coach Jay Gibson said after the blowout ended. "... But I'm a little disappointed, too. Bismarck High is a fine team but we shouldn't have been dominated like that."
Brett Gehring, Bismarck's 235-pound senior right guard, said he had high expectations going into the opener.
"We lost pretty much our whole offense, so in the off-season we got in the weight room, we got prepared. We went to all the camps as a team and when football started we went to work. I'm happy with the way we played."
The game was competitive for less than a quarter.
Things opened with an exchange of fumbles. When the smoke had cleared, Bismarck had possession at the West Fargo 6-yard line. Tailback Layne Johs ran the ball twice and the Demons were in the end zone with 2:34 expired. Dexter Werner's extra point, his first of six, put BHS up 7-0.
West Fargo came up with an equalizer just three snaps of the ball later, wideout Chaz Gunderson scoring on a 75-yard bomb down the left sideline from Tucker Bucholz. Alan Repak's conversion kick forged the game's only tie with 4:03 off the clock.
Bismarck responded with three unanswered touchdowns to open a 28-7 lead with 8:58 left in the half.
West Fargo immediately sliced the deficit to 28-13 on Shane Siverson's 98-yard kickoff return.
That ray of hope proved temporary. Linebacker Reed Hendrickson ran back a fumble for a touchdown, and Werner bulled his way to a 25-yard touchdown catch as the Demons opened a 41-13 halftime advantage.
The final 21 minutes of the game was played with a running clock.
Johs, a 5-foot-11, 200-pound junior, led the Bismarck attack with 109 yards in 18 carries and scored three times.
Other BHS scores came from Ben Jolliffe on a quarterback sneak and Ricky Purtle on a 5-yard run.
All told, Bismarck generated 312 yards total offense to 104 for West Fargo, which was bedeviled by five turnovers.
Johs said he anticipated a battle against the Packers. "I did not expect this at all," he said. "West Fargo is as good team, and I expected a lot closer game, but our defense really stepped it up tonight."
Bismarck coach Mark Gibson gave his team high grades for its opener.
"I thought our kids were really, really ready. I think they were tired of practicing and ready to play a game," Gibson said.
"But we've got to maintain perspective. This is one game," Gibson said. "We've got to get better each week. I think the West is going to be a dogfight. That was shown this week."
He referred to the West's 6-1 record in the opening week of action.
West Fargo 7 6 0 0 - 13
Bismarck 21 29 7 6 - 54
B - Layne Johs 5 run (Dexter Werner kick), 9:26.
WF - Chaz Gunderson 75 pass from Tucker Bucholz (Alan Repak kick), 7:57.
B - Ben Jolliffe 1 run (Werner kick), 3:34.
B - Brett Adam 74 punt return (Werner kick), 1:15.
B - Johs 7 run (Werner kick), 8:58.
WF - Shane Siverson 98 kickoff return (kick failed), 8:45.
B - Reed Hendrickson 25 fumble return (Werner kick), 6:02.
B - Werner 25 pas from Jolliffe (kick blocked), 2:55.
B - Johs 11 run (Werner kick), 8:57.
B - Ricky Purtle 5 run (kick failed), 1:03.
First downs 3 19
Rushes-yards 24-19 54-238
Yards passing 85 74
Comp-Att-Int 2-13-3 3-4-0
Fumbles-lost 3-2 2-2
Punts-avg 6-34 3-47
Penalties-yards 3-25 0-0
Rushing: WF - Dustin Null 7-10, Alex Spacek 8-45, Shelby Schulz 2-minus 2, Nick Roehrich 2-minus 9, Tucker Bucholz 5-minus 25. B - Layne Johs 18-109, Kip Jangula 2-8, Brennan Fetch 9-31, Riley Plant 1-15, Ricky Purtle 13-38, Kole Bauer 2-10, Hunter DelaBarre 5-10, Ben Jolliffe 4-17.
Passing: WF - T. Bucholz 2-11-2, 85 yards; Roehrich 0-1-1; Scott Cameron 0-1-0. B - Jolliffe 3-4-0, 74.
Receiving: WF - Chaz Gunderson 1-75, Justin Heisler 1-10. B - Devin Schirado 1-39, Kip Jangula 1-10, Dexter Werner 1-25.
Interceptions: B - Josh Seibel, Nick Goulet, Blake Murphy.
Records: West Fargo 0-1, Bismarck 1-0.