High school football 2023 preview: Get to know Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin

Aug. 24—Love of the game

Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin quarterback Karson Stevenson started playing football in first grade. Lineman Allen Brown started playing in second grade, quit for a while, and resumed playing in eighth grade. Wideout Ayden Ingram has been playing since third grade. Coach Mark Dodd has plenty of experience to work with. "A good core of what we have now all played together then," Stevenson said. "I think we won one game against Hoopeston in eighth grade. I kicked off, hit a kid and recovered my own kickoff. It was a good year to establish where we were going to play." The group has built plenty of chemistry along the way. "(Karson and I) have been best friends for a while, so we've always been locked in with each other," Ingram said. "We basically know what we're going to do before we do it. We have signals to switch plays, and it's nice to have him back there because I trust him."

Season outlook

BHRA's season begins with one of its three Saturday games, under the lights on Aug. 26 against Clifton Central at newly-renovated XXXX Field. After that, the Blue Devils will face a now-closed Vermilion Valley Conference schedule that it has had little issue with over the past two seasons; BHRA has won 20 of its last 22 games and has lost just 10 contests since 2017. "It's good that we have it all closed," Dodd said. "It'll be a little different with no nonconference games, it's going to be harder to try and win the conference now, but it helps with scheduling and lets us get to know some of these teams better."

Playoffs ... or bust

Stevenson will be a key part of the Blue Devils' attack this season as he looks to combine with Ingram to lead a dynamic offense. It's a duo that might remind fans of the program of Dawson Dodd and Michael Hackman in due time. "Ayden has blossomed into a premier wideout," Dodd said. "As long as we can be good with it and be efficient with it, I'm great with it. I think Karson completed about 62 percent of his passes (last season), that was unheard of 10 years ago for us." The Blue Devils will also receive contributions from a running back room that includes Enrique Rangel, Logan Hughes and Chaz Dubois. That position has been especially important for the Blue Devils in seasons' past. "We've had a good run of kids, Dodd said. "This year, it's just going to have to play itself out. We have guys who are capable. It's competition, we'll see who steps up."

Odds and ends

The Blue Devils have had plenty of big wins since Dodd took over as coach in 2007. The postgame celebration of choice usually takes the Blue Devils into nearby Danville. "Usually it's Taco Bell, Buffalo Wild Wings, Moncials if it's open," Stevenson said. "It's all in Danville. Definitely get some food, but other than that, we pretty much go home and rest. We've got film on Saturday morning." Those wins usually follow a team breakfast at the Bismarck Men's Club that morning, after which the excitement is palpable during the school day. "All the parents, the moms especially, really devote their times," Stevenson said. "We have a little talk and then all meet up in the parking lot before school. Everyone looks forward to the Fridays. No one is really focused on school that day."