It was never a lock the high school football season would make it this far.
Caleb Dockter, all-state lineman for Bismarck High, was determined to do everything he could to keep playing during a pandemic.
"I think the main thing was I just couldn't imagine being the one not wearing a mask to school, or going to a party, and then end up getting Covid and then having to tell my teammates I couldn't play because I was being selfish and careless," said Dockter, starting right guard and nose tackle for the Demons. "Honestly, I didn't think we'd get to play the whole season. I think it shows as a team we've been smart about wearing masks, being careful and now we get to play this week and that's really exciting."
The Demons have excelled on and off the field this fall.
“The kids have been very diligent in school and conscientious of the other people around them. They've taken this seriously," BHS head coach Mark Gibson said. "I think if some of the adults had treated this the way the kids have, things might be a little different. But for whatever reason, there have been some contrasting ideas about things out there instead of just saying, 'OK, it's something that's here. Let's face it and move forward.'"
In a normal year, even with the early winter weather, the stands at the Bowl would be flush with fans tonight for the marquee game of the season so far to see which dominant unit prevails -- Bismarck High's high-powered run game or Century's stout defense.
Through six games, the third-ranked Demons (6-0) are averaging 402.6 yards rushing per game. Of all the eye popping numbers, this one might take the cake: BHS averages a first down every hand-off -- a whopping 10.6 yards per carry.
No. 1-ranked Century, meanwhile, has allowed 429 yards rushing total this season. The Patriots have won 18 games in a row.
"It's a situation where two things meet that are really, really good -- running game against outstanding defense," Gibson said. "We're certainly going to have our hands full. Century is twice the size of us. Nobody's been running on them and we haven't had success against them."
On paper, the Demons' statistics look like a misprint.
--402.6 yards per game.
--10.6 yards per carry.
--48.1 points per game.
--The Demons' top three ball-carriers -- Isaiah Huus, Lucas Miller and Brandt Kringlie -- all average at least 12.9 yards per carry.
Huus has 1,195 yards rushing on only 92 carries. He also has 21 touchdowns.
"It's a combination of having a very good offensive line, a really good running back and a great fullback," Gibson said. "All the stars kind of aligned."
The Demons do not have five monster trucks pancaking opposing defenses to the turf. Center Cade Casey, left guard Nicholas "Nico" Mortenson, right tackle Brady Bauman, left tackle Connor Hedges and Dockter, along with tight end Logan Schaubert, average only 6-1 1/2, 230 pounds. However, their athleticism and chemistry make up for any lack of size.
"We really became close over the summer, all five of us knowing what the others are doing and being able to move as one unit," Dockter said. "We always try to be sound with our technique. We know if we do our job, we have great backs that can make big plays."
"Communication is a big part of it. They work every single day together. They've seen everything, they all played last year and I think the one difference is this year they believe," Gibson said. "And it always helps to have a 200-pound battering ram."
That battering ram being Huus, of course, who can run over and past defenders.
"He's probably the best tailback we've had around here in a lot of years," said Gibson, who's had a bunch of good ones with the Demons.
Dockter said whoever has the ball is capable of taking it the distance.
"We have a pretty balanced rushing attack with Kringlie, Lucas Miller, Jack Steckler, and of course Huus. He deserves all the credit he gets. He's a beast," Dockter said.
When it comes to tonight's 7 p.m. tilt, the unstoppable force vs. immovable object cliché applies.
"I think Century's offensive line and defensive line have been dominating for years. We've been playing each other since the seventh grade. We know how good they are," Dockter said. "For us to have a chance to win, we're going to have to play really well and be ready for a four-quarter game."
Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or email@example.com
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