Last week the Bismarck Demons football team lost Isaiah Huus, sometimes called the squad's bell cow or its 200-pound battering ram. His successor has not yet surfaced.
The Demons, playing strong defense but anemic offense fell 10-0 to Minot on homecoming night at the Bowl. According to Matt Mullally, the Western Dakota Association sports information director, BHS had not been blanked by the Magicians since 1976.
Minot, now 1-0 in the AA West standings and 1-2 on the year, got all the points it needed in its first possession. The Magicians marched 45 yards to the Bismarck 19-yard line. When the drive stalled, senior kicker Peyton Bartsch booted a 36-yard field goal and Minot was in the lead to stay.
That was all the scoring until 1:53 remained in the game. Workhorse senior running back Blaze Ferry put icing on the Minot victory with an 11-yard scoring romp as time wound down. Bartsch's conversion kick closed out the scoring for the night.
Statistically, the game was a near-standoff. Both teams finished with 13 first downs. With Ferry leading the way with 84 yards 25 carries, the Magicians rushed for 150 yards in 49 attempts. They totaled just 38 yards through the air on four completions.
BHS rushed for 86 yards on 26 attempts, an uncharacteristically meager output. Senior quarterback Caden Fischer completed 18 passes for 126 yards, giving the Demons a 212-188 edge in total offense.
Bismarck had four drives die in Minot territory, three of them in the second half.
The first time they had the ball, the Demons drove 44 yards to the Minot 36 before losing the ball on downs on the 10th play of the march.
Bismarck's first possession of the second half moved the ball 60 yards in 11 plays before fizzling at the Minot 20. On fourth-and-two at the Magicians' 20, Fischer rolled left to pass, but had his attempt blocked by Minot defensive back Ethan Pankow.
The next time BHS had the ball it was forced to punt from the Minot 40.
Bismarck trailed 10-0 when it put together its greatest threat. The Demons marched 46 yards in 15 plays, reaching the Minot 19. They lost the ball on downs, enabling Minot to kill the clock with one play.
Mark Gibson, the Demons head coach, said Huus suffered a leg injury in last week's 21-20 loss at Fargo Shanley. The injury, a torn calf muscle, required surgery, ending the all-state senior tailback's season.
The result was an unproductive week for BHS football.
"Practice looked like the game did tonight," Gibson said. "We've got a long way to go. The disheartening thing is we've got other kids who have to step up, and they're not doing it."
"We're getting physically dominated, and the next two weeks we've got (West Fargo) Sheyenne and (Fargo) Davies, two physical teams coming up," he added.
Bismarck dipped to 1-2 with the setback, 1-1 in the West.
The Demons' inability to run the ball effectively has Gibson understandably concerned. A hard-nosed running game is the trademark of the Gibson era at BHS.
"We didn't figure out how to run the ball until the third quarter, and then we ran into missed assignments and mistakes," he observed.
Bismarck plays host to Sheyenne next Friday. Minot meets Mandan in Minot the same night.