BISMARCK -- In a year's time, Jacob Ault has developed from a first-year football player into a team leader.
A rookie last season, Ault is a football captain as a senior.
"That's very unusual," B-H coach Mark Dodd said. "We never would have expected it."
The 205-pound Ault is penciled in as a starter for the Blue Devils at tight end and at defensive end.
"Last year, he was learning," Dodd said, "but he has come a long ways. The kids respect him. He has really stood out."
Ault and senior Brian Clapp -- another of B-H's hardest workers during the offseason -- are among the Blue Devils' captains.
Clapp is 1 of 6 candidates trying to distinguish themselves as ball carriers.
"We're not sure about our running backs," Dodd said. "They're young or inexperienced, or both. We're still sorting it out."
The senior prospects besides Clapp are Jordan Abbott, Aaron Brewer and Ian Marx. Sophomores Ross Darby and Levi Knight are also in the mix.
Brewer, Clapp and Darby combined to carry the ball 37 times last year in varsity competition for a 4-5 team. Clapp is expected to be a stalwart on defense as a linebacker.
"He's one of our hardest working kids," Dodd said. "He's added 20 pounds of muscle."
Things are more settled on the offensive line where Dodd is putting together a unit that could start for two years.
The all-underclassmen group features junior tackle Derek Davis, junior guard Luke Thornsbrough and junior center Cody Longest along with sophomore guard Branden Smith and sophomore tackle Dakota Patton.
Patton, Smith and Thornsbrough are returning starters.
"This is the smallest team I've coached size-wise," Dodd said, "but they work hard. I'm really happy with Coach (Cory) Max and the improvement in the offensive line."
Davis (210 pounds) and Longest (205 pounds) are the only starting linemen who weigh in at more than 190. What they lack in size, Dodd believes, they will make up for in quickness.
Bismarck-Henning's total roster size has increased to 55 this fall, including 18 freshmen. Last year's overall turnout was 34.
"It's being here a year and getting the word out that we have something good," said Dodd, in his second year as the Blue Devils' head coach. "Year 2 is definitely better than Year 1.
"The players we have back have been through it a year and are not learning things for the first time."
The incumbent quarterback is junior Michael Grant, who completed 39 of 80 passes last season for 539 yards. The challenge is getting a backup ready for the season opener, which occurs on Aug. 29 when B-H plays at St. Thomas More.
The expected second-team quarterback, sophomore Tyler McKenzie, is sidelined with an injury sustained in baseball. Freshman Krystian Ingram is currently working as the No. 2 quarterback.
Joining Dodd and Max on the coaching staff are Greg Allsopp and Tom Johnston, both of whom are returning assistants.
"I expect us to compete every week," Dodd said.
B-H's home opener is scheduled for Sept. 5 against Villa Grove.