BISMARCK — If one disheartening season-ending loss is tough to take, watching an otherwise successful season come to a close in similar fashion two years in a row has to be devastating.
There are no answers and no great reasons why the Bismarck-Henning Blue Devils deserved two consecutive disappointing outcomes. Two seasons ago, they were mere seconds away from advancing to the third round of the IHSA state playoffs when Marshall completed a last-second Hail Mary pass into the end zone for a 20-15 win.
In 2012, the Blue Devils’ fate wasn’t much better. Attempting to become the first-ever Bismarck-Henning team to advance past the second round, the Blue Devils watched an undefeated and record-setting season get its only blemish in a 7-6 home playoff loss to DuQuoin.
“It’s just really hard, tough lessons,” Bismarck-Henning head football coach Mark Dodd said. “There’s nothing really about this game or competitive sports that ever has to be fair. I felt like in both of those games, even though they were both pretty even, I felt like we were a better team. We failed. That’s not to discredit those teams. They were solid teams. A lot of that just really falls on me, too, making sure that we’re prepared for that next step.
“Last year was one of those odd years because we really had trouble. The season we played didn’t really prepare us for that type of battle. I sensed that, but we play who we play. Of course, this year, with losing as much talent as we had, we’re going to be in a dogfight every week.”
That might be the biggest hurdle for the Blue Devils to overcome. Bismarck-Henning enters the 2013 campaign with only four returning starters on offense, and three on defense from last year’s Vermilion Valley Conference championship squad.