The Bismarck Demons have had quite a ride in 2023, a turnaround season that many people didn’t see coming, but these players and coaches did not feel the same way, knowing that this comeback story was a long time in the making.

Bismarck went winless in 2022, a team that couldn’t find its way on the football field, and missed out on the postseason. But with many players coming back from that team, they knew that it just took some time to come together as a team.

“I would believe it,” says Bridger Owens. “We have a bunch of talented guys here and three-fourths of us played last year and we have a lot more experience. Just everything started to click with each other. We started building more bonds with each other, hanging out, and just has been successful so far.”

“We knew what we had coming into the season,” says Quin Hafner. “We were confident in ourselves and what our abilities were. We knew last year wasn’t who we are and wanted to change that this year.”

Head Coach Mark Gibson says it all started in the offseason, knowing that the football played last year was not the brand of Demon football that he’s seen during his tenure.

“They made a pact to make sure we get back to where we belong,” says head coach Mark Gibson. “And I think these kids have earned this right. But right now, you start over and that’s the one thing we have to understand is, no matter what you have done in the past, it’s 0-0 and everyone is on the same playing field regardless of where you are at.”

Bismarck has found its way through the running game and stout defense, and that was on display during their 22-3 win over Davies earlier in the year.

“Just our execution wise on our defense,” says Owens. “They came with a big play in the first quarter there and we stopped them at the goal line. We just said that’s it, we’re going to keep them there and they didn’t score anymore. I just think, offense-wise, we just shifted really well, go down the field, and felt great out there.”

But that was week three, and coaches and players know that Davies has changed since that game.

“They found their identity about five or six games in,” says Gibson. “And they’ve gone to a full T backfield with three horses back there that can all run the football. Defensively, we’re going to have to be assignment-sharp and the other thing they do is keep your offense off the field. That’s very time-consuming. There’s a lot of fourth downs that they convert on.”

With the elements at play again, the stress is on ball security ahead of this matchup, knowing that having it all end here will be a major disappointment for the Demons.

“You don’t want this to end at your home field,” says Gibson. “It’s something that you want to continue and keep this thing going because, I would hate to come in on a Monday after laying an egg and just understand that it’s over with. That’s the reality of it but I think some things our kids will hopefully come out and play well on Friday.”

The Demons kickoff at 7 p.m. against the Eagles at the Bismarck Bowl Friday Night.