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Tom Mix, Published November 14 2013

Bruins offensive line paves way for record season by Johannesson

Fargo - Fargo South senior all-state center Joe Mehrer and the rest of the Bruins’ offensive line have a cut-and-dry job description:

Control the line of scrimmage and pave the way for South’s running game. The Bruins average 39.2 points and 361.5 yards of total offense per game – 301.3 yards coming on the ground.

South’s featured running back, junior James Johannesson, has rushed for 2,435 yards on 230 carries and has scored 26 touchdowns.

“Our goal every week is to dominate up front and get James into the end zone,” said Mehrer, who is 6-foot-2 and 295 pounds. “I think we have done a good job of that.”

In addition to Mehrer, South’s starting offensive line is made up of all-state senior left tackle Drew Fahrman (6-4, 250 pounds), senior left guard Bjorn Strand (5-7, 195), junior right guard Kyle Trefethren (6-2, 256) and junior right tackle Hunter Hanson (6-4, 280).

All five either started or saw significant playing time last season and today at 6:40 p.m. will be lining up against top-ranked, undefeated Bismarck in the North Dakota Class 3A state championship game at the Fargodome.

Entering this fall, head coach Troy Mattern thought the experienced line would translate into big gains running the football.

“They have jelled, and the continuity they have shown all season has been good,” Mattern said. “We haven’t had anyone miss any snaps. They have been one solid unit the whole season and our offensive stats have shown that.”

“The team has gone through us,” Fahrman added. “If we show up, then I feel the team is going to have a good game.”

Johannesson has been quick to credit his individual success to the front five following all of his standout games, including his career-best rushing game on Sept. 14 against Devils Lake when he posted a school-record 331 yards.

“We take pride in the running game, but at the same time without James, I don’t know if we could do what we do,” Strand said. “A lot of it comes from good communication up front. As the season has gone along, we have communicated a lot better, and it makes a big difference.”

“We get it done as a team,” added Trefethren, who has played the last several games with a broken right hand. “When we get push, the running backs hit the space well. As long as we do what we need to do and improve every week, we are satisfied.”

The line’s toughness comes from countless hours in the weight room.

“We all strive to get the most out of the weight room,” Hanson said. “We have little competitions, and we are always trying to get one more. We challenge each other to make each other better. It is great coming up to the line of scrimmage and you know you are stronger than the guy across from you.”

Being a cohesive unit the last several years has also translated into camaraderie off the field.

“We are always hanging out together after the games and throughout the week.” Mehrer said. “We grab food together. It is a brotherhood.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Mix at (701) 241-5562