If Bismarck High coach Mark Gibson was given the go-ahead to build the perfect football player, the result might resemble Brett Gehring.
At six-foot and 235 pounds, Gehring looks the part of a formidable football lineman. However, it's the innards that interests Gibson.
"He gets it," Gibson said as he listed the merits of his offensive guard.
What Gehring "gets" is the concept that there's something more important than his wants and desires. Gibson's favorites are players who put team first, and Gehring models that attitude.
As a junior, Gehring started at middle linebacker for the Demons. He didn't play one down of offensive football, yet he practiced with the offense as regularly as any two-way player.
Now all that apparently wasted time spent running the offense is bearing fruit.
"Just staying sharp (last fall) on what to do is paying off this year," Gehring said.
Gibson said Gehring's move to offense was predicated on the Demons' wealth of linebackers and dearth of offensive linemen. Gehring is the only senior in the interior line.
"There's no doubt he likes defense a lot better, but he accepts the fact the team needs him a lot more on offense," Gibson said.
Graduation swept away 100 percent of what Gehring calls an "all-state line" last spring. The big senior saw the handwriting on the wall. BHS needed experience and leadership in the offensive line and he was the No. 1 candidate.
"I think the other kids kind of look to me as a senior," Gehring said. "They want to know how things are done (at BHS), about attitude, tempo and everything."
As a team that depends heavily on the ground game, the Demons need things to be shipshape in the interior line. Gehring said he and his fellow beasts of burden are improving, but they aren't ready to take any bows yet.
"I'd say we've been getting slowly better week by week, but we've still got a lot of work to do," the big senior said.
Gehring said he didn't go into the offensive line as a total stranger. He played there in grades seven through 10 and practiced with the offense last season. Thus, the real adjustment was learning to play at varsity speed.
"I've played it before. It's just that varsity is more uptempo and a lot more intense," he said.
Obviously the Demons' learn-as-you-go offensive line isn't hindering the end product. Bismarck, 4-0, is ranked first in the state AAA poll and is coming off a 27-19 victory over second-ranked Century.
"(Last week's win) answered some question marks about how we have to play against good teams," Gehring said. "... But it's just another win and we've got to keep going."
Gehring has become well aware that it's his last year in a Demon uniform. "As a senior you realize it's your last chance to play high school football and you don't get to do anything over," he said.
Gibson said Gehring began to assume a leadership role over the summer.
"Brett turned our heads at the camp at Dickinson State," Gibson said. "He was our base. The other kids fed off him and realized he understood what it takes to play at this level."
"Kids like Brett realize their roles are vital to the success of our football team," Gibson added.
Although he's become an offensive mainstay, Gehring hasn't been completely stripped of his linebacking duties.
"I'm getting in one, two or three sets of defense," he said. "It's definitely fun."
n NOTES: BHS and second-ranked Mandan are the only remaining unbeatens in the AAA ranks. Both stand 4-0. ... Friday's West Region schedule has Jamestown at Century, Dickinson at Bismarck and Mandan at Williston. Century and Bismarck are playing a doubleheader at the Community Bowl with the Patriots leading off at 5 p.m. ... Minot plays host to Fargo Davies at 8 p.m. in an interregional game. ... Gibson said it was unlikely quarterback Ben Jolliffe would play against Dickinson. Jolliffe suffered a high-ankle sprain in the Century game.
W L W L
Mandan 2 0 4 0
Bismarck 1 0 4 0
Century 1 1 3 1
Minot 1 1 3 1
Dickinson 1 1 2 2
Williston 0 1 1 3
Jamestown 0 2 0 4
Friday, Sept. 23
Dickinson at Bismarck, 8 p.m.
Jamestown at Century, 5 p.m.
Mandan at Williston, 7 p.m.
Fargo Davies at Minot, 8 p.m.
W L W L
G.F. Red River 2 0 3 1
Devils Lake 1 0 2 2
Fargo North 1 1 2 2
Fargo Davies 1 1 1 3
G.F. Central 1 1 1 3
West Fargo 0 1 1 3
Fargo South 0 2 0 4
Friday, Sept. 23
Fargo South at Devils Lake
Fargo Davies at Minot
Fargo North at Grand Forks Central
West Fargo at Grand Forks Red River