Eight all-state players, a 12-0 record and a second straight state championship.
Bismarck head football coach Mark Gibson figures it will be quite a spell before the Demons equal what they accomplished this season.
“Probably we will be sitting on a beach somewhere when it happens again,” Gibson said. “... I’d like to say it’s going to happen every year, but I don’t know if I’ll ever see it again.”
Bismarck’s eight honorees are among 25 AAA all-state players announced by the North Dakota High School Coaches Association.
Running back Jake Miller, quarterback Esley Thorton, linebacker Carson Winkels and defensive back Calvin Krueger of BHS are all repeat first-team all-staters. Among the players joining them on the first team are Demons teammates Nick Nelson and Shawn Jenner on the offensive line, Skye Miller on the defensive line and Nick Jolliffe at wide receiver.
Thorton, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound senior, was earlier named the AAA senior athlete of the year. He threw for 1,395 yards and 12 touchdowns and rushed for 501 yards. That gave him a West Region-high 1,896 yards of total offense.
Jake Miller, a 5-11, 165-pound tailback, was the regional leader in rushing and scoring. He ran for 1,631 yards and scored 32 touchdowns.
Century, which reached the playoff semifinals, earned three first-team and three second-team slots. Wide receiver Garret Jacobs, offensive lineman Michael Oberlander and linebacker Bruce Govig were named to the first team. Linemen Preston Blinsky and Michael Oberlander and quarterback Jesse Kartes of CHS garnered second-team spots.
Wide receiver Austin Riopelle of Mandan was the only other Bismarck-Mandan player named to the team.
Gibson said it’s not his business to speculate on where the 2009 Demons rank among the great BHS teams. But with eight first-team all-staters he said the current Demons warrant a place in the discussion.
“It’s hard to compare who played what type of opposition, but we got eight all-state players and set eight school records this year,” Gibson said. “Of all the teams I’ve coached this is the most explosive football team I’ve had and it centered on those four returning all-state kids.”
“In the 11 years I’ve been here this is the best team I’ve coached,” Gibson added. “As far as comparing them with other teams in the past, that’s hard to do. I’m not going to get into that.”
Gibson said Thorton, Miller, Winkels and Krueger were expected to carry a huge load this year and they shouldered it all, and more.
“Going in those kids had to perform up to the standards they set a year ago, and I think all four of those kids surpassed what they did a year ago,” Gibson said.
Gibson said Jenner and Skye Miller improved tremendously to claim all-state honors.
“Shawn Jenner was one of our starting tackles last year. ... He put in a lot of time in the off-season and committed himself to getting better,” Gibson said. “... He kind of became a leader in the offensive line, and the kids followed his leadership. He did a great job for us.”
“Skye Miller played sparingly for us last year but he made a name for himself, mostly on defense with all the sacks and big hits he had. ... He’s going to be missed next year, both on defense and special teams.”
Jolliffe ranked second in the region in receiving with 25 catches for 499 yards.
Century’s Jacobs and Govig moved up from second-team all-state berths as juniors.
Jacobs missed three games with a shoulder injury and still caught 27 passes for 415 yards and eight TDs. Govig contributed as a ball carrier (443 yards), receiver (27 catches, 310 yards, defensive back, linebacker and punter. He scored eight TDs, five rushing, two receiving and one on an interception return.
“We thought there was a pretty good chance of landing them on the first team, but the others made tremendous strides,” Wingenbach said. “... The two that might surprise people the most are Ethan (Smallbeck) and Jesse (Kartes). Those two made some tremendous strides to arrive where they are. Ethan started just a few games at a defensive tackle spot as a junior ... and Jesse had just a few offensive snaps as a junior. It seemed he just got better and better and better, and it carried on throughout the season.”
Kartes finished second in the region with 1,639 yards passing. He led the region with 15 TD passes and ranked second behind Thorton in total offense with 1,756.
Riopelle ranked fifth in receiving yardage with 19 catches for 408 yards. He scored four touchdowns.
Quarterback: Esley Thorton, Bismarck.
Running backs: Donte Smart, Minot. Jake Miller, Bismarck.
Wide receivers: Nick Jolliffe, Bismarck. Garret Jacobs, Century. Jordan Piatz, Jamestown.
Offensive line: Michael Oberlander, Century. Nick Nelson, Bismarck. Shawn Jenner, Bismarck. Zac Johnson, Fargo South. Gerad Fugleberg, Fargo South.
Defensive line: Bryce O’Neill, G.F. Red River. Skye Miller, Bismarck. Joe Swegarden, Fargo North.
Linebackers: Tyler Gefroh, G.F. Red River. Josh Hooey, Fargo South. Scott Schiller, West Fargo. Bruce Govig, Century. Carson Winkels, Bismarck.
Defensive backs: Elby Pope, G.F. Red River. Calvin Krueger, Bismarck. Isaiah Steinwand, Minot.
John Morken, West Fargo. Bryce Jorgenson, West Fargo. Adam Boe, Fargo South.
Matt Achter, Fargo South. Michael Bangs, Jamestown. Preston Blinsky, Century. Jacob Bucholz, West Fargo. Sam Callahan, Fargo South. Pat Crowe, Fargo South. Wyatt Grindy, Minot. Alex Hanson, Williston. Austin Hibl, Dickinson. Jesse Kartes, Century. Levi Keck, Dickinson. Brock Keller, Minot. Jacob Kiefer, West Fargo. Brock Larson, Fargo South. Alex Looysen, Jamestown. Cordarious Luckey, Fargo South. Lucas Lupo, Dickinson. Ben Mohr, Fargo North. Ross Montgomery, West Fargo. Nate Moody, Dickinson. Grant Parks, Grand Forks Central. Austin Riopelle, Mandan. Brady Schwartz, West Fargo. Ethan Smallbeck, Century. Jonas Tengesdal, Minot. Wayne Zietz, Minot.