BISMARCK — Mark Dodd plans to emphasize his team’s strengths when the high school football season opens in three days.
Bismarck-Henning has size and experience across its offensive front.
Translation: “When you’re that big up front, that experienced and with the quality of athlete, you should be able to ground and pound,” Dodd said.
The Blue Devils will pass the ball, but not nearly as often as they’ll run it.
Fullback Kevin Allen returns, halfback Patrick Ganley had a breakout game in last year’s Class 2A playoff game and quarterback Caleb Bergman started three games at the position in 2011 and passed for 177 yards against Hoopeston Area. Luke Horton will also get some handoffs.
Allen (912 yards rushing) and Ganley (214 yards rushing) each averaged at least 7.4 yards per carry in 2011.
The job of creating running space belongs to the four seniors and one underclassman who’ll play up front. Center Morgan Supergan is a 6-foot-2, 300-pounder. The guards are also seniors, Zack Akins (240 pounds) and Austin Reinken (200 pounds), who is a converted tight end. One tackle is senior Cole Acton (235 pounds).
The non-senior on the offensive line is the other tackle, which will be either 6-5, 295-pound junior Wilde Garowski or 200-pound sophomore Austin Reffett. Junior Kenzie Noel (205 pounds) is another lineman who can be called upon.
The tight end candidates are senior Jacob Ohl (295 pounds), who didn’t play a year ago, junior Chase Swinford (220 pounds) and sophomore Braedon Lappin-Pratt (250 pounds).
“They’ve proven they can run and catch,” Dodd said. “The competition is to see who is the best blocker.”
The offensive backfield will get considerably bigger in goal line situations. For the third year in a row, Supergan will be summoned.
“He has the size and the speed,” Dodd said. “People look at his size and think he can’t be too athletic. He’s one of those rare kids. He’d be a good football player if he weighed 180 pounds. He worked a lot harder than we thought he would have.”
Ball State, Illinois, Indiana and Northern Illinois are the universities that have shown an interest in Supergan, who was a wrestling state-placer as a junior.
Receivers are senior Ty Hufford, a wing back, and junior Dustyn Ingram.
The defensive front returns three starters. Ends Reinken and Supergan started in 2011 as did tackle Acton. Akins is expected to fill the other tackle slot.
Two of last year’s top linebackers, Reed Collins and Sam Shoaf, graduated.
Allen is the returning linebacker anchor. He will be joined by sophomore Mo Abbed and senior Horton. Supergan (95 tackles) and Allen (86 tackles) were the top two B-H defensive leaders a year ago.
Ganley and senior Anthony Helton are the cornerbacks. Hufford and Ingram are the safeties. Senior Jesse Bergman, who didn’t play last fall, and sophomore Dalton Pratt, are others who will contribute in the secondary.
Senior Devin Pratt, who didn’t play last year, and junior Reid Schendel are among the others who figure in as linebackers.
The B-H staff is working with 58 squad members, including 17 freshman. The senior class is also well-represented (16).
“The seniors are a tight group of kids,” Dodd said. “That nucleus of big kids up front always gives you a chance. This group is used to winning. A lot of them are in their third year on varsity.
“This is the team that has taken a couple of years to build. My expectations are very high.”
Thirteen lettermen are on the B-H roster. Six of them have already lettered twice in football.
Joining Dodd on the coaching staff are Greg Alsopp, Tony Foster, Art Reinken, Michael Grant, Kyle Gutterridge, Travis Mathews, Cory Max and Dave Robertson.
B-H opens on Friday at Martinsville, followed by consecutive home games against Arcola and Milford/Cissna Park.
Wednesday: Milford/Cissna Park