Central Nebraska Football
Cozad wins state championship

Jake Paulsen rushed for 198 yards and scored two touchdowns, Colin Wetovick and Alex Boryca ran for two touchdowns apiece, and second-ranked Cozad won the Class C-1 state championship with a 47-21 victory over No. 8 Ashland-Greenwood on Tuesday.

The Haymakers (13-0) led 41-0 in the middle of the third quarter and went on to win their first state title since 1991.

Paulsen broke a 66-yard run on the third play from scrimmage to open the scoring. Cozad's defense would then stop Ashland-Greenwood inside the Haymaker 10 yard line on the Bluejays first drive of the game.

Cozad would then score to start the second quarter on a 4 yard TD run from Wetovick after Nate Bubak completed a fourth and long pass to Connor Young. Later on in the second quarter, Wetovick would go 50 yards for a score and Bubak would hit Paulsen with a 19-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-0 at half.

To start the 3rd quarter, Wetovick would pick off an Ashland-Greenwood pass and return it 40 yards for the score as the blowout was on.

The Haymakers rushed for 277 of their 360 total yards. Conor Young caught three passes for 64 yards and would have three interceptions on defense. 

It was definitely a day to be remembered in Cozad lore. Head coach Brian Cargill discusses what winning the state championship means to everyone. "To the coaches and players it was simply an affirmation of hard work and commitment leading to success. As far as the community and fans I feel they appreciated the class and work ethic displayed by the team and enjoyed how the community and school were represented both on and off the field."

It was an impressive playoff run as the Haymakers won by 22+ in every round. Cargill says the team's play up front got better as the year went along. "In watching film week to week I could really see our offensive and defensive lines progressing every week. Their technique and scheme function got better each game. That along with our overall execution in all phases helped build the confidence needed to excel."

Paulsen was a huge reason why the Haymakers won state. He rushed for 2,534 yards and 29 touchdowns this season. Wetovick rushed for 832 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Boryca led the way in tackles with 115. Tanner Evertson totaled 80 while Wetovick racked up 75.

Cozad says goodbye to a very talented senior class that includes Paulsen, Bubak, Boryca, Evertson, Clay Trejo, Hugo Escamilla, Brendan Molden, Jacob Rush, Hank Pflaster, Slater Barela, Roman Netherton, Simon Rangel, Jacob Stallbaumer, Tyson Werner, and Blaine Peterson.

Cargill says he won't forget the relationships built between the players, coaches, and fans this season. "
I will most remember the tremendous effort of our players and coaches and the great relationships that developed during the season. Another thing that will always be fondly remembered is the tremendous
support that all community members, parents, and fans provided for our team. It was almost like the team and community fed off each other. That positive community and school spirit was a great motivator for
our team."

The Haymakers bring back Young, Dallas Maack, Mitchell Fisher, and Jason Finnegan, among others. Those four were very big contributors for Cozad this year, and will have to step up and be leaders next year.

There are a lot of question marks for next season's team. Cozad loses the majority of their line, their quarterback, and the majority of their skill players.

The good thing is a foundation for hard work and success has been laid by this year's graduating class. The future Haymakers now know what it takes to win it all, and get to the top.

What this senior class accomplished this season was truly remarkable. Everyone knew they would be good, but I'm not sure many had them winning the entire thing.

For the most part Cozad stayed healthy and that allowed them to go on the run they did. Paulsen got stronger every game, and showed why he was one of the best running backs in the state regardless of class.

This is a Haymaker team that will always be remembered. People will never forget this team as long as they live. I know this is something that will stick in my mind for years to come.

Next year also has a chance to be a success for Cozad. The key is getting to work right away, and not BIRGing, or Basking in Reflected Glory.

While the Haymakers should always be proud of this state title, it has no bearing on next season. It is back to square one this offseason for Cozad. There is a lot of work to be done before next year.

I think 2014 could be another playoff season for the Haymakers if the team plays up to their capability and potential. Should be a fun run.
Cozad defeats Boone Central/Newman Grove in State Semifinals; headed to state championship

It was a night to remember in Cozad on Tuesday as the Haymakers downed Boone Central/Newman Grove 35-7 in the Class C-1 state semifinals and secured a spot in this week's state title game.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Haymakers erupted for 14 points right before half on a 47-yard touchdown run from Jake Paulsen and a 2-yard touchdown run from Paulsen. Boone Central received the second half kick off and drove to the Haymaker 20 yard line before Connor Young picked of a pass at the Cozad two.

The Haymakers would then go up 21-0 on its next series as Colin Wetovick raced in from 37 yards out. Boone Central would briefly get back into the game at 21-7 late in the third, before the Haymakers put it away with a 48 yard TD pass to Young from Nate Bubak, and Paulsen would score his third touchdown of the night with 7:17 left in the fourth quarter.

Paulsen finished with 183 yards on 28 carries. Defensively the Haymakers were tough giving up just 168 yards to an offense that came in averaging 40 ppg and 400 yards of total offense per night. Cozad is now 12-0.

It is Cozad's first appearance in the state title game since 1991.

Cozad Head coach Brian Cargill says his squad is glad to be in the state championship. "Well it is a nice reward for a lot of hard work put in this season. We are looking forward to the game."

Their opponent, Ashland-Greenwood, is 11-1 on the year. Cargill says they are led by their QB. "They have a very good quarterback and a nice compliment of players to go with him."

Gunnar Garner has thrown for 1,402 yards on the season with 15 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. He has rushed for 1,152 yards and 11 TD's.

Cargill talks about what he expects to see from the Bluejays on both sides of the ball. "They run a lot of option football on offense. Defensively they run to the ball well."

Ashland-Greenwood averages just over 227 yards rushing per contest. Cozad rushes for 335 yards per game.

Cargill says it's important to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. "The battle up front is won in the trenches as in any game. So it will be important to take charge in the trenches to have success."

The Haymakers will look to get Paulsen going. The senior running back has ran for 2,335 yards and 28 touchdowns this season. He rushed for 249 yards on 33 carries against the Cardinals, and scored three touchdowns.

This is Ashland-Greenwood's first ever appearance in the state championship game. Their lone loss this season was to Bishop Neumann.

This figures to be a pretty good match up. The Bluejays wouldn't be here if it wasn't for a 4thdown and 15 conversion on the final drive against Columbus Lakeview.

I think Cozad has a very good chance of winning. If Paulsen runs the ball like he has throughout the playoffs and the rest of the team makes plays, the Haymakers will put themselves in a very good position to win. If Cozad plays the way they did against Boone Central/Newman Grove I don't see any way they get beat.

Tuesday's game, which can be heard on 93.1 the River KRVN FM, kicks off at 10:15 a.m. at Memorial Stadium. Pregame is scheduled for 10:00.

Overton falls to Hemingford in semifinals

Overton's run in the Class D-1 state football playoffs came to an end on Monday as they lost 44-26 to Hemingford in the state semifinals. 

The Bobcats led just 6-0 at half but scored 16 points within 12 seconds in the third quarter to take a 22-0 lead as Overton could never recover.

Overton was led by quarterback Joel Shafer, who passed for 275 yards and four TD's. Hayden Cahoy was his favorite target catching 8 passes for 158 yards for 3 TD's.

Overton finishes the season at 11-1. 

It was a wonderful year for the Eagles, who came up just one game short of making it to Memorial Stadium. Head coach Paul Heusinkvelt says it was a great season that went by quickly. "This season was one to remember. We had some very good games and some big blowouts that made this season go so fast. I can't believe that it has ended already. It seems like yesterday we were preparing for the first practice and now it is all over. The guys played very well all season."

This year's effort certainly made up for last year when the Eagles exited the playoffs early.

Heusinkvelt says the majority of the team was dedicated to making it to Lincoln, but his squad picked the wrong game to stumble. "They decided last year at the end of the season that they wanted a chance to play for a State Championship, and most were dedicated throughout the year for a chance to get there. We did not play our best football and it came at the worst time of the year. They were a great football team, but we also made a lot of mistakes that helped them beat us."

One of those mistakes would be a roughing the kicker penalty that extended a Hemingford drive in the second half.

Credit to the Bobcats though, they were the real deal. The Eagles did a nice job battling back when they could of easily thrown in the towel.

Heusinkvelt says he was impressed by the way his team approached every game. "The teams' ability to come into all most every game with the focus of beating that team and not looking ahead. Every game they prepared themselves like they were playing for a State Championship."

The Eagles blew out almost everyone they played this year with the exception of Elm Creek and Hemingford. 

Overton parts ways with Cahoy, Shafer, Tanner Ryan, J.D. Callahan, Logan Johnson, Logan Kizer, Vince Vollmer, Matt Dolan, Brad Davey, and Chase Horn.

Heusinkvelt says he won't forget this senior class. "Two things I will remember about this senior group is their talent level and ability to play great football. Second is their ability to try to talk their way out of any conditioning or something they really want."

Cahoy finished the year with 1,612 yards rushing and 33 touchdowns. Shafer rushed for 556 yards, scoring 6 times. Shafer threw for 924 yards, and 19 touchdowns.

Cahoy led the team in receiving with 391 yards and 6 touchdowns. Ryan racked up 279 yards, and scored 11 touchdowns.

Zack Zeleski made a team-high 105 tackles. Justin Hodgson had 84 while Callahan racked up 80. Davey recorded 75.

This year's senior class will be sorely missed as they did so much for this program. But there is a lot of talent returning as well.

Back are Zeleski, Hodgson, Kris Seberger, Creighton Ryan, and others. 

I think the Eagles have an opportunity to make the playoffs again next year. Overton has a very solid football program led by Heusinkvelt, and I'm sure he will have next year's team raring to go.

I don't know if the Eagles will experience the type of success they did this year, but I think 5-3 is very realistic. Overton could even be better than that.

Filling the shoes of Cahoy, Shafer, Tanner Ryan, Callahan, and others won't be easy, but now it's time for new players to step up and emerge.

The torch has been passed by this year's graduating class, and a foundation for hard work, dedication, and determination has been laid.

The returning players know what has to be done if they want to be good again. It is going to take an offseason similar to this past one for Overton to find success in 2014. Players have to be committed to the weight room, and getting better. Every player has to get bigger, faster, stronger, and tougher. There has to be noticeable improvement from now until August.

I look for 2014 to be another successful year for the Eagles. If everyone plays together and has the team in mind first, Overton should be good again. I suspect the Eagles will have another winning season, barring something drastic happening.

Look for Overton to be playoff bound again in 2014.
Elm Creek ends year with quarterfinal loss to Hemingford

The Hemingford Bobcats came into Elm Creek last Tuesday afternoon and left town with a 20-7 victory in the Class D-1 State Quarterfinals.

The Buffaloes' Hayden Geis started the game's scoring, rumbling 43 yards to the end zone to give Elm Creek a 7-0 first quarter lead.

The Bobcats responded with a 4-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Matthew Wood to Brady Turek. The score cut the Buffaloes' lead to 7-6, which was the score at halftime.

On Hemingford's opening possession of the third quarter, the Bobcats marched right down the field and scored on an 8-yard pass from Wood to Kyle Kaman. The two-point conversion was good and Hemingford went ahead 14-7.

Later in the third quarter, Colt Foster hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass from Wood, capping off a 65-yard drive that put the Bobcats up 20-7, making up the final score.

Geis was Elm Creek's leading rusher with 95 yards on 15 attempts.

The Buffaloes amassed 162 yards of total offense, 135 coming on the ground.

The defense gave up 235 yards of total offense, including 195 on the ground.

Elm Creek finishes the year at 9-2. 

It was a very good season for the Buffaloes, who weren't expected to do much. Head coach Jayce Dueland says players responded to challenges and stepped up, allowing his team to have the success they did. "This year was a huge success for our team. Even though we didn't accomplish our ultimate goal, we reached many other ones. Going into the season we had a lot of question marks about our team and how they would respond to the challenges the coaches gave them. Going into camp, there was not one spot on the offensive or defensive line, that we knew who was going to start. The competition was fierce and it proved to help us because everyone competing was that much better once the season started. As coaches, we challenged the seniors and veteran players to become leaders and show the younger kids how things are done. They really took control of their team and led by example all year long."

This year's seniors include Geis, Jake Fields, Bailey Schoenhofer, Zach Johnson, Ace Bloom, Nick Mostek, Jake Bartling, and Isaac Cure.

Dueland says the Hemingford loss hurts, but there's a goal to advance farther next year. "It was very disappointing to lose to Hemingford. When you get that close and lose, they always are tough losses. We knew going into the year that we were underrated and we had a lot of solid players coming back. Once we were in the playoffs we talked about taking the next step and getting farther than no one else in school history. Losing in the quarterfinals is tough but as coaches we have already challenged next years team to take the next step."

Trying to do that will be Nic Crowley, Christian Best, Devon Halliwell, Austin Stolp, Gabe Hubbard, Nate Bartling, and others. The make up of these returning players is good, and I feel Elm Creek has a chance to be very good again next year.

Dueland says this year's team brought their "A" game week in and week out. "I feel that our team did maximize their potential. With the tough schedule we had, it is very difficult to have to play to the best of your ability week in and week out just to win the games during the regular season. This team was very consistent all year long, bringing their best game each week."

Geis was the team's leading rusher this season with 1,005 yards and 14 touchdowns. Best rushed for 859 yards, and 13 touchdowns. Crowley ran for 623 yards, scoring 8 touchdowns.

Jake Bartling led the team in tackles with 136. Best made 98 while Geis had 82.

Dueland says he will always remember how this year's team played together. "The thing that I am going to remember most about this team was the team camaraderie. We had a starter from every class and for these kids to get along and meld like they did this year was very special."

The Buffaloes hope that trend continues next year as they bring back a number of starters.

I look for Best to have an increased role in the run game, and for sophomore to be Nate Bartling make huge strides from now until the start of next season. 

Crowley should have an excellent senior campaign, and Halliwell should be solid as well. Elm Creek loses a number of key players, but also brings back some key guys, and that's why I look for them to be good next year as well.

What this year's team did was quite remarkable considering what was expected from them. They were picked 4th in their own district at the beginning of the season. They finished 2nd. That's saying something.

Elm Creek was a touchdown away from being undefeated in the regular season and getting the number one seed in the west. Instead that went to Overton. 

I don't think there's any doubt the Buffaloes were one of the top teams in D-1 this year. They were certainly the third best team as far as the western side of the playoff bracket goes. There's a lot for these players, coaches, fans, and the community to be proud of.

There's a lot of work to be done from now until August, but I know this returning group of players has it in them to be successful again next season. I look for the Buffaloes to have a year similar to this one, and feel they have a chance to take things to the next level and reach the semifinals. Only time will tell.
Gothenburg's season comes to an end with quarterfinal loss to Cozad

The Class C-1 state football quarterfinals went through Cozad last Tuesday night as the Haymakers matched up with arch rival Gothenburg.

The Haymakers' high powered offense took on the Swedes' staunch defense and Cozad came out with a 34-9 win.

Gothenburg would take a 3-0 lead into the 2nd quarter, but it would not hold as a pair of Jake Paulsen touchdowns staked Cozad to a 14-3 halftime lead.

Cozad's defense would stifle a Swede threat early in the 3rd and would eventually put the game away in the second half.

Solid defense, opportunistic takeaways and field position were the name of the game for Cozad as they advanced to the state semifinals.

The Swedes finish another successful campaign at 8-3, after making the quarterfinals for the third year in a row. 

There's much to be proud of this season if you're Gothenburg. It is quite the accomplishment to reach the quarterfinals three years in a row, and not many other teams can say the same thing.

The Swedes lose a number of seniors who were key contributors over the course of their careers.

They include Blake Ristine, Trent Long, Roy Slack, Ross Ostendorf, Skyler Kottwitz, Carson Messersmith, Talbot Buchholz, Adam Speck, Tyson Miller, and Pete Peterson.

Every single one of those players made contributions one way or another.

Losing them will not be easy. There are some big shoes to fill, especially when it comes to Ristine and Long.

But like every year the Swedes should be fine. Gothenburg returns a number of key players, including Zach Wolf, Tanner Borchardt, Connor Schwanz, Levi Tripp, and Dylan Folkers.

All will be seniors, which means it's their time to shine and step up as leaders. The torch has been passed on by this year's graduating class. Now it's time for these seniors to be to step in and take control.

They have to be leaders on and off the field. That means being accountable for their actions, and leading by example. They must exemplify what it's like to be a leader, and show the underclassmen the way.

There is a lot of talent returning for Gothenburg. They have a chance to be good again, and could very well make the quarterfinals for the 4th consecutive season.

It will take a lot of hard work to be as good as the last few Gothenburg teams, but there's no doubt in my mind the returning players have what it takes to make 2014 a successful season.

Lifting weights, working on individual football skills, and participating in team camps will all be critical to next year's success. The sooner the returning players get after it, the better.

I think you will see a highly competitive team in Gothenburg in 2014. I look for the Swedes to have a year similar to this one. I feel the future of Gothenburg football is bright.
Cozad routs Gothenburg in quarterfinals

Class C-1 state football quarterfinals went through Cozad as the Haymakers matched up with arch rival Gothenburg. The Haymakers high powered offense took on the Swedes staunch defense and Cozad came out with a 34-9 win. Jake Paulsen rushed for 218 yards on 24 carries and scored on runs of 12, 5 and 74 to pace Cozad.

Gothenburg would take a 3-0 lead into the 2nd quarter, but it would not hold as a pair of Paulsen touchdowns staked Cozad to a 14-3 halftime lead.

Cozad's defense would stifle a Swede threat early in the 3rd and would eventually put the game away in the second half. Solid defense, opportunistic takeaways and field position were the name of the game for Cozad as they advance to the state semifinals.

The Haymakers will host Boone Central/Newman Grove today at 4 p.m. in a game you can hear on 93.1 the River KRVN FM. Pregame is scheduled to start at 3:50.

A trip to the C-1 State Championship is on the line when the 11-0 Haymakers meet up with 11-0 Boone Central/Newman Grove.

This is the Cardinals' second straight trip to the semifinals as they advanced to the state championship last year. Head coach Brian Cargill says there's a lot of build up around this one. "I would say the level in the locker room is like most any game this year. However in the school and community there seems to be a heightened sense of excitement and anticipation for the game."

Cozad started the playoffs with a 61-14 win over Minden. The Haymakers battled Pierce in the second round, defeating the Bluejays 34-12. Cozad knocked off rival Gothenburg in the quarterfinals 34-9. Cargill talks about the keys to beating Boone Central/Newman Grove. "Need to execute and avoid turnovers on offense. Assignment, alignment, and pursue on defense."

The Cardinals earned a 41-7 win over Valentine in the first round. Boone Central/Newman Grove defeated Kearney Catholic in the second round 35-28 before defeating three-time defending state champion Norfolk Catholic 34-16 in the quarterfinals.

The key for the Cardinals will be slowing down Cozad's Jake Paulsen, who has has ran for 2,086 yards on the season with 25 touchdowns.

This should be a very good, hard hitting game. Boone Central/Newman Grove is the best team Cozad has faced all year, and the Haymakers must play their best game to beat them. Paulsen has to have a big game.
Overton defeats Twin Loup in quarterfinals

The Overton football team took another step in the playoffs with a 42 to 13 win over Twin Loup Tuesday night in Sargent.

It was a tight contest in the early going before Overton got on the scoreboard 1st on a 23-yard run by Hayden Cahoy.

Twin Loup answered right back with a 53-yard pass from Jack Gibbens to Ethan Gibbens. Both teams' 1st scores came as a result of fake punts that kept the drive alive. Overton added 3 more scores in the 2nd quarter including a pass from Joel Shafer to Cahoy on the last play of the half.

Overton tacked on 2 more TD's in the 3rd quarter to complete their scoring. A 4-yard run by Jack Gibbens in the 4th quarter accounted for the final scoring by the Wolves.

For Overton, Cahoy had 4 touchdowns, Brad Davey added a rushing TD and defensive lineman Zach Zeleski got in the scoring act on an intercepted pass.

This sets up a big game today between Overton and Hemmingford in the semi-finals.

The two 11-0 teams meet in Overton this afternoon.

Overton has posted playoff wins over Clearwater/Orchard, Palmer, and Twin Loup, who the Eagles beat 42-13. Overton Head coach Paul Heusinkvelt says things came together for his team in that game. "Yeah, you know, the first quarter was a little rough, you know, tie ball game, but nothing that we didn't just make some adjustments, and players made some good plays, and it worked out to our advantage."

The Eagles beat the Cyclones 65-14 before taking out the Tigers 38-15. Heusinkvelt says the key to beating the Bobcats is winning the battle up front and stopping the run. "We got to be able to control the line of scrimmage. They're a really aggressive team, like to blitz a lot. So we got to control that line of scrimmage. I think we just catch some big breaks there if we can control that, and once we get past that first level they got no one really behind that. So we get past that first level we'll have a great chance on offense of scoring. And defensively we got to contain their running backs. Both of them are really good running backs. Their quarterback's a pretty good quarterback so if we can contain them and keep them in front of us I think we have a great shot of beating them."

Heusinkvelt says his squad must be balanced offensively. "Yeah we got to be balanced. And we got to know where they're blitzing. And they have some tendencies, and we're going to try and exploit those tendencies. And make them get out of rhythm, make them play a ball game that they've never had to play yet. And that's the nice thing is they haven't had a game where they've had to really change up their mindset, where we have. And maybe we have that against them, and that can work to our advantage."

Hemingford has playoff wins over Franklin, Chambers/Wheeler Central, and Elm Creek.

Ethan Skinner led the Bobcats in rushing in the game against the Buffaloes as he ran for 134 yards.

Cahoy rushed for 103 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Wolves. He had 5 catches for 69 yards.

I think this is a very even match up between two very good teams. The battle at the line of scrimmage will be absolutely critical. The Eagles have to win it if they want to win the game. Hemingford will bring it, which means Overton better be ready to bring it as well.

Today's game kicks off at 2 p.m. It will be aired on 93.1 the River KRVN FM. Pregame is set for 1:50.
Loomis falls to Amherst in second round of playoffs

Loomis's season to remember came to an end last Wednesday in the second round of the playoffs as the Wolves lost 60-22 at home to Amherst.

The Broncos were very good early, scoring 20 points in the first and second quarters each. Loomis could only muster 8 first half points and trailed 40-8 at halftime.

Amherst tacked on 14 more points in the third quarter to the Wolves' 6, and extended their lead to 54-14 at the end of three.

Loomis scored 8 fourth quarter points compared to 6 for the Broncos to make up the final score.

Zach Clark led the Wolves in rushing with 92 yards on 13 carries, scoring once.

Loomis totaled 167 yards of offense, including 148 on the ground.

Kelly Thorell led the way defensively with 17 tackles. Andrew Otting-Crandell and Gradyn Ludeke made 14 each. Jack Otting-Crandell racked up 11.

The Wolves ended the season with a very fine 7-3 record. It was a year in which Loomis won the D2-7 District Title.

There is lots to be proud of for the Green and White of Loomis.

Head coach Denis Reese echoes that statement, saying his team made the most of their opportunities. "We are proud of what the team accomplished this season. Loomis has shared a district Championship several times, this year was an outright Championship from a very good district. We were able to stay injury free until the end of the season, which enabled us to compete with our best players. Our players did a good job getting into shape for the season. This team played up to it's potential as much as any team we have had at Loomis. I also believe that my assistant coaches did a great job for us and I am proud to have had the opportunity to work with them (Jason Maaske, Drew Billeter, Cole Carraher)."

Clark led the Wolves in rushing this year with 741 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also threw for 697 yards with 5 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.

Andrew Otting-Crandell led the team in receiving with 263 yards and two touchdowns.

Jack Otting-Crandell was second on the team in rushing with 726 yards and 12 touchdowns on the year. Both him and Clark will be back next season.

Thorell led the way in tackles this year with 152. Andrew Abramson made 124 while Austin Brown had 102.

Loomis returns some key players, but loses some talent as well. The Wolves part ways with Thorell, Brown, Abramson, Andrew Otting-Crandell, Teak Edwards, and Evan Dow.

The contributions of these players will not soon be forgotten as they will be sorely missed.

They certainly had a senior year to remember on the gridiron. The way they led this year's turnaround was truly remarkable. Not many gave Loomis a chance to do much of anything this season.

It just goes to show that games are not played on paper. The Wolves went out there game in and game out and gave it their all. Loomis worked their tails off in practice to get where they did. It was one of the feel  good stories of the year in the Central Nebraska area.

It's now the returning players' job to keep the momentum going. The bar has been set high by this year's senior class. Everyone returning knows what needs to be done.

The Wolves have to work extremely hard in the offseason, both in the weight room and on the field. The more individual workouts and drills these players can put in from now until August, the better.

2014 has an opportunity to be an even better season than 2013. Loomis should get off to a fast start as you have to figure they will be better prepared for the start of next season than they were for this one.

I wouldn't be surprised if the Wolves repeat as district champs and take the next step of advancing in the playoffs. Loomis has a real good chance to do some big things in 2014.

Elm Creek tops Burwell in second round of playoffs

The Elm Creek Buffaloes earned a 35-26 home win over Burwell in the second round of the playoffs on Wednesday.

Elm Creek struck first as Jake Bartling rumbled 41 yards to make it 6-0 Buffaloes in the first quarter.

The score became 14-0 in the second quarter when Nic Crowley ran one in from 2 yards out. Following the Longhorns' first touchdown of the game, Crowley found pay dirt from 43 yards out to give Elm Creek a 21-7 advantage.

The Buffaloes punched one more touchdown in, in the second quarter as Christian Best broke a 65-yard run to put Elm Creek ahead 28-7.

That was the score at halftime. The Buffaloes pushed their lead to 35-7 in the third quarter when Hayden Geis scored from 5 yards out. Burwell scored the final three touchdowns of the game.

I'm not quite sure it's the finish Elm Creek was looking for, but they'll no doubt take the win.

Crowley led the way on the ground with 145 yards on 13 carries, including two touchdowns. Best ran the ball 8 times for 95 yards, and scored once. Bartling amassed 61 yards on 7 carries, scoring one touchdown. Geis gained 56 yards on 14 attempts, and scored once.

The Buffaloes totaled 366 yards of offense, 361 coming on the ground.

Crowley led the way in tackles with 11. Best, Bartling, and Zach Johnson had 10 each.
Elm Creek and Hemingford are set to square off in the Class D-1 quarterfinals in Elm Creek on Tuesday. The Bobcats come in with a perfect 10-0 record, and beat Chambers/Wheeler Central 42-18 in the second round.

Head coach Jayce Dueland says Hemingford is good. "Hemingford will be the fastest team we have played all year. They try to play their match ups and utilize them. We just need to make sure we get aligned and trust our technique on both sides of the ball."

The Buffaloes come in with a 9-1 record, having won 35-26 over Burwell in the second round. Dueland says his squad has to avoid giving up big plays, and turning the ball over. "Offensively we have to take care of the ball. In games like this, turnovers are really key to the outcome of the game. Defensively we have to make them drive the field if they are going to score. They are used to scoring quickly."

Hemingford averages over 61 points per game. Dueland says it's important for his team to limit the Bobcats' momentum. "When you get to this time of the year, you have to know that every team is going to be really good. We have to know that sometime during the game Hemingford will get some momentum and for us to be successful we have to stop that momentum as quickly as possible."

Geis leads Elm Creek in rushing as he has 912 yards on the season, including 13 touchdowns. Best has rushed for 826 yards this year, and has scored 13 times. Crowley has run for 621 yards, and has scored 8 touchdowns.

Crowley has thrown for 306 yards with 9 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

Ethan Skinner is Hemingford's leading rusher on the season with 1,491 yards and 24 touchdowns. Quarterback Matthew Wood has thrown for 1,153 yards with 29 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.

Brady Turek leads the Bobcats in receiving with 18 receptions for 468 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Colt Foster has caught 18 passes for 339 yards, and has scored 10 touchdowns.

Hemingford is certainly for real as they have put up some super impressive numbers. Elm Creek will have their hands full in this heavy weight bout. Should be a great one.

Tuesday's game is scheduled to kickoff at 2 p.m. The game will be carried on 93.1 the River KRVN FM with pregame starting at 1:50.
Overton downs Palmer in second round of playoffs

The game was close for 1 half, then Overton pulled away for a 38-14 win over Palmer in the 2nd round of the D-1 football playoffs Wednesday in Overton.

The Eagles scored 1st after a blocked punt gave Overton possession at the Palmer 1-yard line. Palmer came back and took the lead 7 to 6 in the 2nd quarter, but Overton responded with a TD and took a 14 to 7 lead after 2. A big 3rd quarter by Overton gave the Eagles a 36 to 7 lead going into the final quarter.

Hayden Cahoy led the Eagles with 3 touchdowns and scoring runs of 1, 24 and 32 yards. Joel Shafer had TD jaunts of 18 and 25 yards. Palmer's 2 scores came on passes of 27 and 52 yards from Kordell Glause to Mitch Glause.

Palmer ends their season at 7 and 3 while Overton is 10 and 0 on the season.

Overton is slated to meet Twin Loup on Tuesday in the Class D-1 quarterfinals in Sargent. The Wolves are 9-1.

Head coach Paul Heusinkvelt says the Wolves are tough. "Twin Loup is a good football team that can pass and run the option well. It will be another test for our team."

The Wolves earned a dominating, 69-20 at North Central in the second round while the Eagles beat Palmer 38-15 at home. Heusinkvelt says what the Tigers do well is in contrast to what Twin Loup excels in. "I don't necessarily think they possess anything different than Palmer, except for a better option game. They can run the ball better than Palmer, but I don't think they are as good at passing the ball."

Jack Gibbens has passed for 1,185 yards, throwing 16 touchdowns and 1 interception. Chett Hinton leads the Wolves in rushing with 1,498 yards and 19 touchdowns.

Heusinkvelt feels his squad performed well against Palmer, but adds they must take advantage of scoring opportunities against Twin Loup. "I think we played a very good game. We need to limit our mistakes and put the ball in the end zone when we get in the red zone."

Looking to do that will be Cahoy, who has rushed for 1,495 yards and 30 touchdowns this season. Shafer has thrown for 559 yards and has rushed for 472.

Overton's leading receiver is Tanner Ryan, who has 18 catches for 279 yards, and 11 touchdowns.

I suspect the Eagles will get challenged in this game, but I like them in a relatively close game. I think the running game with Cahoy makes the difference like it has all season.

Tuesday's game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. It will be carried on AM 880 KRVN with pregame beginning at 5:50.

Gothenburg knocks off Broken Bow in second round of playoffs

It was a match up of two old Southwest Conference foes on Wednesday as Gothenburg and Broken Bow battled in the second round of the Class C-1 playoffs. Two of the better defenses in C-1 would match up in this one, but the game would turn on special teams and turnovers.

Gothenburg would take the lead on a 18-yard field goal by Trent Long in the first quarter. Broken Bow would take the lead with 5:20 to go in the 2nd quarter on a one-yard run by Marcus Miller.

However, the Swedes would answer back with a 73-yard kickoff return by Ross Ostendorf followed by a 18-yard touchdown run by Dawson Graham to go up 10-7. A late field goal by Long would but the Swedes up 13-7 at half.

Broken Bow would briefly take the lead in the the 3rd on a 10-yard run by Grayson Minnick, but a turnover at the Indian 9 would allow Gothenburg to go up 19-14. More turnovers ended the Broken Bow threat and the Swedes would win going away 32-14.

For the second straight year, Cozad and Gothenburg will meet in the playoffs.

The Haymakers got to the quarterfinals with a 34-12 win at Pierce in the second round.

This is the third year in a row the Swedes have made the quarterfinals. Head coach Craig Haake says it's sort of an expectation. "Well we've had a good run of athletes, and they've been working hard, and I guess they kind of expect to be there. I don't think any of them looked at any of these games here lately as upsets. They expect to do well."

The key for the Swedes will be slowing down the Haymaker offense, something they did in last year's 23-0 first round playoff win. Haake says the key is to force Cozad to drive the length of the field. "Well it comes down to limiting their big plays. We did that last year. We kept them from breaking any long runs, and we shut them out. Against our defense I just think you're going to find it difficult to methodically move down the field. And their offense is not built that way anyway. They have a lot of one play drives. And that continued even last week. We need to make sure that they have to take the long route in getting those yards. Not having the big play touchdown."

The main focal point of the Haymakers' offense is senior running back Jake Paulsen, who had 352 yards rushing and 4 touchdowns in the team's win over Pierce.

On the year, Paulsen has 1,864 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns. Colin Wetovick is the team's second leading rusher with 607 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Quarterback Nate Bubak has 641 yards passing on the season with 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Cozad won the regular season match up between these two teams, 19-0.

I think things could be different this time. However, the Haymakers are extremely tough. It's going to take Gothenburg's best effort and then some for them to pick up the win.

Tuesday's game is scheduled to kickoff at 7 p.m. It will be carried on 93.1 the River KRVN FM. Pregame is set for 6:50.
Cozad defeats Pierce in second round of playoffs

Cozad used a strong second half and pulled away from Pierce for a 34-12 win in the second round of the Class C-1 state football playoffs on Wednesday.

Pierce controlled the ball and led 12-7 at half after Cozad managed just 11 offensive plays in the first half.

In the second half, the Bluejay's offense was stopped and the Cozad offense found high gear. Cozad tailback Jake Paulsen had TD runs of 35, 67 and 78 yards in the second half to help the Haymakers put the game away.

Paulsen scored Cozad's first touchdown of the day on a 93-yard run in the first quarter. For the day he finished with 352 yards and four scores. The Haymakers' last TD came a 60-yard run from Colin Wetovick in the fourth quarter. Cozad improves to 10-0 on the year.

For the second straight year, Cozad and Gothenburg will meet in the playoffs.

The Swedes got to the quarterfinals with a 32-14 win over Broken Bow in the second round.

Head coach Brian Cargill says his team needs to perform well on both sides of the ball. "We need to execute on offense and be assignment sound on defense."

Gothenburg likes to run the ball and eat the clock, shortening the game. Cargill says his defense has to prevent that from happening. "Gothenburg thrives on this strategy so we will have to stop the run in order to get the possessions needed to score."

The main focal point of the Haymakers' offense is Paulsen, who has 1,864 yards rushing and 22 touchdowns on the year. Colin Wetovick is the team's second leading rusher with 607 yards and 8 touchdowns.

Quarterback Nate Bubak has 641 yards passing on the season with 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

Cozad won the regular season match up between these two teams, 19-0.

I think Tuesday's game could be similar to the first time these two teams played. However, it wouldn't surprise me if the Swedes made things interesting. The Haymakers are going to have to be at their best to pick up the win.

Tuesday's game is scheduled to kickoff at 7 p.m. It will be carried on 93.1 the River KRVN FM. Pregame is set for 6:50.
Kearney loses to Millard West in first round of playoffs

Kearney gave a respectable effort at Millard West in the first round of the playoffs last Friday night, but came up short, losing 27-16.

The Wildcats scored 10 first quarter points to the Bearcats' 3. Kearney notched 7 second quarter points, and limited Millard West to 3 to get within 13-10 at halftime.

The Wildcats outscored the Bearcats 14-6 in the third quarter to make up the final score.

Kearney finished the season 5-5, a pretty respectable record given the limited experience they had returning.

Head coach Brandon Cool says it was a fun ride. "Tremendous season. We knew our inexperience would take a while to develop. Our football team improved every week and play the game with class and passion."
At one point the Bearcats were 1-4 and easily could of packed it in. Cool says the seniors wouldn't quit. We had great senior leadership that set high goals and then had a burning desire to accomplish them."

Kearney says goodbye to the likes of Tyler Dahlke, Matt Koester, Cody Masters, Jake Culey, Tyler Gillen, David Erickson, Jamieson Oertle, Justin Liveringhouse, Trevor Hibberd, and Conner Brown.

Koester and Gillen were forces in the backfield for the Bearcats, and the impact they had in the run game will not be forgotten.

I think in many ways Kearney overachieved this year. Not many would of thought they would of beaten Lincoln North Star on the road the way they did. The win over Lincoln Southwest was also a bit of a surprise, at least in the way the game was won.

The way the Bearcats played together as a team this year was quite remarkable. Cool says they kept getting better. "Our team improved every week and showed that team unity/perseverance are major keys to success."

There's a lot for these players, coaches, and fans to be proud of. The Bearcats had a very respectable season all things considered, and should be even better next year.

Lifting weights and participating in summer camps will be important for Kearney's returning players in the offseason. Everyone on the team needs to get better. You're only as good as your weakest link.

The future is bright for the Bearcats. They have an opportunity to do some nice things next year. Both quarterbacks return.

2014 definitely has the potential to be better than 2013. Some nice things were done this year, but even better things can be done next year.

Should be an exciting season for Kearney in 2014.

Southern Valley falls to Sutton in opening round of playoffs

The year came to an end for Southern Valley last Thursday night as the Eagles lost 46-14 at Sutton in the first round of the playoffs.

Southern Valley struck first as Jeremiah Perkins hit Alex Kaup for a 15-yard touchdown pass. After two Mustang touchdowns, the Eagles scored again as Perkins ran in a touchdown from 6 yards out to pull Southern Valley within 2 at 16-14 in the second quarter. That would be the score at halftime.

Things got away from the Eagles in the second half as Sutton put up 14 points in the third quarter, and 16 in the fourth.

Perkins was 13-21 for 125 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Christian Lewis led the team in rushing with 53 yards on 14 carries.

Southern Valley totaled 219 yards of offense, 125 coming through the air.

Hunter Quinn racked up 8 tackles. Dylan Brooks and Chance Best made 7 each.

Southern Valley finished the 2013 campaign with a 4-5 record, a respectable mark. Head coach Jeremy Epp says a lot was accomplished this season. "The coaching staff is very proud of the effort that these student athletes gave this year...every week they learned some tough lessons but bounced back and continued to get better on the practice field. For the seniors they wrote a new chapter in the Eagle football history....breaking team records, individual statistical records, back to back playoffs, personal records in the weight room... building memories that they will remember for a lifetime."

The Eagles part ways with seniors Kaup, Brooks, Griffin York, Bryant Biskup, Dan Dietz, Austin Aragon, Austin Bowers, Tom Percival, Michael Longsine, and Carl Kramer.

A lot was accomplished by this group, and the mark they left on Southern Valley football will not soon be forgotten.

Epp says this year's team continued to fight and persevere, something that impressed him. "My overall thoughts on the season is our respect and love for each and every student athlete who worked hard to continue to see their efforts on the practice field come to reality on the game field, to feel the impact of building relationships with each other, and to believe in each other and that a team succeed's together. At one point we were 2-4 and these kids could of packed it up, however, we have some great kids who stuck together, took on new challenges, and poured their heart and soul into the game of football.... and that is why we continued to get better every day."

The Eagles played their best football during their last two regular season games. Epp has nothing but praise for this year's squad. "This team's special because they have changed the culture of SV football and have set a new standard in the weight room, a new standard in growing everyday, a new standard for excitement for boys sports at SV. Our next step as a program will be to continue to build, take the next step in the playoffs and push for new goals next season. Exciting times at SV."

Perkins, who returns next season, threw for 1,091 yards this year with 13 touchdowns and 7 interceptions.

Lewis, who is also back next year, was the team's leading rusher with 510 yards on the season. 

Brooks led the team in tackles this year with 129. Perkins racked up 95 while Longsine had 78. Chance Best totaled 77.

Southern Valley graduates some talent, but returns a lot. Next year has an opportunity to be even better than this year for the Eagles.

The returning players really have to get after things in the weight room in the offseason, and during summer camps and workouts.

It will be important for every single returning player to improve from now until the start of next season.

There has been success in this football program the last two years, something that should be a building block for the future. This is the most success this program has ever had, and now it's a matter of building on it and getting even better.

The future is bright for Southern Valley football. The sky is the limit. How good they are next year depends on how hard they are willing to work. The potential is certainly there to go better than 4-4 next season, and advance past the first round of the playoffs.
Minden loses to Cozad in first round of playoffs

The season came to a close for the Minden Whippets last Thursday night when they lost 61-14 to Cozad on the road in the first round of the playoffs.

Minden didn't do themselves any favors in the first quarter, giving up 20 points. The Haymakers added 34 points in the second quarter to take a 54-0 halftime lead.

The Whippets' two scores came in the third quarter when Quin Rutt ran one in from 10 yards out and Jacob Choquette scored on a 3-yard touchdown run.

Cozad put up 7 fourth quarter points to make up the final score.

Rutt was the team's leading rusher with 90 yards on 25 carries. Minden totaled 124 yards of offense, including 95 on the ground.

The Whippets finished the 2013 season with a 2-7 record, a mark I'm sure they wish could of been better.

Head coach Shannon Lovin says change and misfortune affected Minden this year. "The season didn't play out as I had hoped. Injuries, changing coaches, and changing offenses all played a part. I wanted more for the boys."

Despite the tough luck, there were many positives to take away from the season. Lovin says he was pleased with everyone's efforts. "I thought the team gave a good effort throughout the year. As with every year some games and practices the effort is a little better. As coaches we have to try to get our players to play at a high level every week."

Minden's best games of the season were their wins over Fillmore Central and Sandy Creek. The two victories helped the Whippets get into the playoffs. Lovin was glad to make it to the postseason, but says that didn't make it a successful season. "Getting into the playoffs was nice for the kids and town, but wasn't a measure of success for us. We fell short of our goals on the scoreboard. Hopefully the boys learned life lessons of discipline, character, hard work, playing with integrity, perseverance, doing things the right way, and paying attention to detail."

There are lots of life lessons that can be learned from playing high school football, win or lose. Lovin says the players gave everything they had all season. "What impressed me the most was the positive attitude that was brought to practice. The boys were very coachable and worked hard. They knew that we had a reason for the things we were doing. I looked forward to and enjoyed practice everyday."

Minden says goodbye to a number of seniors including Rutt, Choquette, Jonas Lovin, Cole Gibbons, Ryan Hauserman, Brendon Sinsel, Colton Barton, Harrison Holmes, Mitch Muller, Jt Runions, Austin Johnson, Alex Nielsen, Collin Jensen, Nathan Payne, and Lee Landrum.

These seniors will certainly be missed, and their contributions will forever be remembered. They made the playoffs all four years, including a semifinal appearance in 2011.

There was a lot of success for this class, and they should be proud of their accomplishments.

They certainly set a foundation for hard work, and it's one next year's returning players should follow.

Lots of hard work needs to be put in by next year's returning players. The Whippets have a ways to go to get back to the top.

Minden will have to find a replacement for Jonas Lovin, who missed basically the entire playoff game with an injury. His leadership and skill set throwing the ball won't be easy to replace.

Filling the shoes of Rutt at running back won't be easy either. He was the best offensive player from a statistical standpoint for the Whippets this year, and the way he ran the ball is something to remember.

Minden's line play has to improve for the Whippets to be better next year. The returning linemen need to work hard in the weight room this offseason. They have to work on getting bigger and stronger. A quicker burst off the ball would help them also.

There's potential for Minden in 2014, but the returning players are going to have to work very hard for the Whippets to have a successful season.

The earlier Minden's returners get to work the better. A good offseason will be vital to the Whippets' success in 2014.
Bertrand doubled up by Loomis in opening round of playoffs

Bertrand hung with Loomis for a half, but the Wolves took over in the second half as the Vikings lost 56-28 on the road in the first round of the playoffs last Thursday night.

Bertrand opened up with a 6-0 lead in the first quarter. Loomis scored 16 second quarter points to the Vikings' 8 and led 16-14 at halftime.

Loomis put up 28 third quarter points, and limited Bertrand to 14 to take a 44-28 lead at the end of three.

The Wolves put the game away in the fourth quarter by scoring 12 points and holding the Vikings scoreless.

Bertrand finished the season with a 5-4 record. It was a very up and down year for the Vikings, who won their first two games before losing their next three. Bertrand made a nice run to end the regular season, winning their last three games.

The highlight of the year had to be the upset win over Anselmo-Merna. The Vikings ruined the Coyotes' perfect season.

This was a very young team as the Vikings only lose three players. Robert Edgren, Edgar Estrada, and Dustin Langenberg are the three seniors Bertrand parts ways with.

Edgren is no doubt the biggest loss of the three, and someone else will have to step up next year and compliment Tyrell Younger, who will be a junior.

The Vikings should be solid again next year as they also return quarterback Jake Samuelson. He really came on at the end of the season, and did some nice things.

What really hurt Bertrand some this season was their play up front. When I watched them it appeared their offensive and defensive lines weren't as physical as they needed to be. Younger was banged up, and that didn't help, but it seemed like line play could of been better.

It will be important for the guys up front to get bigger, stronger, and more physical in the offseason. Hitting the weight room will really help.

The Vikings have a chance to be even better next year than they were this year. I thought at the beginning of the season this team would go 6-2. That didn't happen. However, that leaves more to achieve next season.

There is certainly lots of room for growth and improvement with next year's team. I feel Bertrand has an opportunity to be very good in 2014.

It will be interesting to see how the Vikings fare. The pieces are certainly in place for a good regular season, and a run in the playoffs.

Arapahoe upset in first round of playoffs by North Central

Arapahoe's season came to abrupt end last Thursday afternoon when the Warriors lost 36-30 at home to North Central in the first round of the playoffs.

Things started out well for Arapahoe, who led 22-6 at the end of one and at halftime. However, the third quarter was the difference as the Knights put up 22 points to the Warriors' none. Each team scored 8 fourth quarter points.

Caden Weverka led the way for Arapahoe in the ground game with 135 yards on 27 carries, including three touchdowns. Brennan Koller rushed for 92 yards on 14 attempts. Zach Kerner carried the rock 5 times for 78 yards, including one score.

The Warriors amassed 345 yards of total offense, 303 coming on the ground.

Kerner led the way defensively with 10 tackles. Koller, Weverka, Tyler Kipp, and Logan Warner made 9 each. Chandler Hambidge notched 8.

Head coach Dustin Sealey says the loss hurts. "We definitely are not happy with being one and done in the playoffs. We thought we could win a couple. So losing that first one sting a little, no it stings a lot."

Arapahoe finishes the season at 6-3, a very respectable record.

Sealey says it was a good year. "It was a fun season with a great group of guys. We worked really hard all season long. Unfortunately, the ball did not bounce our way."

The Warriors' regular season losses were to Overton and Elm Creek, who are both still in the playoffs.

The North Central loss was a bit unexpected, and I'm not sure if Arapahoe is quite over it yet.

However, things will subside and the Warriors will always remember the fine year they had. Sealey says playing as a team was the key to a successful season. "How well we came together. We had fun every day we were together. I thought we put together a pretty good team. Like I said, sometimes the ball just doesn't bounce your way."

Weverka finished with 1201 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns in his senior campaign. He threw for 585 yards with 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.

Kerner was the team's leading tackler with 78 on the season. Hambidge racked up 67 while Koller had 63.

Arapahoe says goodbye to a number of seniors including Weverka, Warner, Kipp, Hambidge, Anthony Shimmin, Brett Gardner, Tanner Wernsman, and Bryce Wessels.

What these young men did for this program will always be remembered, and playing high school football is something I'm sure these kids will cherish for a long time.

But as the saying goes "all good things must come to an end." And that's the case with the Warriors, who will have to get used to life without Weverka.

There's a lot of talent returning on this team, but also a lot of shoes left to fill.

I'm sure many starting spots will be up for grabs next season, which will most definitely push the returning players to work even harder in the offseason.

If Arapahoe wants to have another successful season they must get after things in the weight room. The Warriors have to get bigger, faster, and stronger.

Next year could be interesting for Arapahoe. How good they are depends on how hard they are willing to work. A foundation for success has certainly been laid by this year's senior class, if it wasn't by last year's, and it's a foundation returning players must follow.

There's a lot of potential for next year's team, they just need to start getting after things sooner rather than later. It will be important for the Warriors to have a good offseason.

Look for Arapahoe to be playoff bound again in 2014.

Elwood loses to Medicine Valley in first round of playoffs

Elwood's season came to an end last Thursday night when the Pirates lost to Medicine Valley 50-28 at home in the first round of the playoffs.

The 10th seeded Raiders scored 12 first quarter points and led 12-8 at the end of one. Medicine Valley scored 14 second quarter points to Elwood's 6, and held a 26-14 halftime lead.

The third quarter did the 7th seeded Pirates in as the Raiders put up 16 points to their 6. The score at the end of three was 42-20 in favor of Medicine Valley.

Both teams scored 8 points in the fourth quarter.

It was a successful season in many ways for Elwood. It was a year that saw Head coach Kevin Mahlberg pick up his 200th career win.

Mahlberg says it was a good year, but injuries prevented it from being even better. "Whenever you think that your team gave 100 percent every game I call it a successful season. Making the playoffs was nice but not having Hackbart and (Blake) Tiede being able to play was big. I am not making any excuses because injuries are a big part of any sport but having to move players to different positions in the first round is tough on the players. I always tell my players that after every game they can look in the mirror and say they they gave it their all on every play, they are a winner, if not, they let their teammates down."

I think in many ways the Pirates achieved their goals this season, but there was certainly an opportunity for more success. However, injuries really took their toll on this team.

Mahlberg sums up the year as a whole. "I was pleased with season in terms of the effort our team gave. The three regular season games we lost were all by just one TD. Hackbart having leg cramps in games hurt and Billie Smith being out with a broken thumb also hurt."

Smith missed considerable playing time, which really hurt Elwood in the run game. 

Despite that, the Pirates saw improvement from last season. Mahlberg credits his team's hard work on and off the field. "Key factors for a winning season was the work the kids did in the summer. I also think the effort they give in the classroom is vital for success. None of my players are going to make a living in the NFL so I get on them big time that they are in school for an education. I also believe any student in any type of extra curricular will see success in the classroom."

Hackbart led the team in rushing on the season with 875 yards and 12 touchdowns. Jacob Schmeeckle ran for 531 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Hackbart threw for 488 yards with 12 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

Cole Remmenga led the way defensively with 113 tackles on the year. Skyler Werger made 77 while Blake Summer had 66.

Mahlberg says his team played together all year long, and he is anxious for next year. "Team unity, they pushed each other to be good. With most all back next year I am all ready for the next years football season to begin."

Elwood loses just three players in Schmeeckle, Summer, and Justin Wilson.

The Pirates figure to be even better next year with Hackbart, Smith, Tiede, Werger, Remmenga, Caleb Wilson, and Sean Clouse back, among others.

Elwood has an opportunity to do big things in 2014. With all the talent they return the sky is the limit on how good they can be.

To find lots of success, the Pirates have to work even harder this offseason than they did the last.

Elwood has to hit the weight room hard, and get involved in numerous camps to make themselves better.

The Pirates must work on getting bigger, faster, stronger, more powerful, and more physical.

Elwood must stay healthy next year if they want to have a really good regular season, and make a deep playoff run. There's a lot of potential in next year's team, things just have to go the Pirates' way.

I know most of these players are involved in other sports, but the commitment they make to getting better from now until the beginning of next season is vital. Next season begins now, not in the spring.

If Elwood avoids the injury bug, and has the ball bounce their way, look for 2014 to be one to remember.
Overton earns first round playoff win over Clearwater/Orchard

The Overton Eagles earned a dominating, 65-14 home win over Clearwater/Orchard in the first round of the Class D-1 Playoffs Thursday afternoon.

Overton's first score came in the first quarter as quarterback Joel Shafer hit Tanner Ryan for a 29-yard touchdown pass that came on 4th down. Following a safety, Logan Kizer found the end zone from 3 yards out for the team's second touchdown of the game. The score extended the Eagles' lead to 16-0 with 4:26 left to go in the first quarter.

After a blocked punt, fullback Brad Davey found pay dirt from 5 yards out to put Overton ahead 22-0. Shafer then added a 20-yard touchdown run that gave the Eagles a 30-0 lead at the end of one.

Davey scored his second rushing touchdown in the second quarter, running this one in from a yard out. After another Overton safety, Shafer connected with Ryan on another touchdown pass, this one an 18 yarder that extended the Eagles' lead to 45-0.

Hayden Cahoy added touchdown runs of 1 and 71 yards in the second quarter as Overton led at the break 59-0.

The Cyclones got on the board in fourth quarter when Spencer Volden rumbled 48 yards down the left side. Clearwater/Orchard's second touchdown came following a bad snap to Overton backup quarterback Creighton Ryan.

The Eagles' final score of the game was an 18-yard TD pass from Creighton Ryan to Logan Johnson.

Cahoy led Overton (9-0) in rushing with 120 yards on 14 carries. Shafer was 4-7 through the air for 83 yards with two touchdowns.

Overton gets ready to battle Palmer at home in the second round on Wednesday.

Both teams won big in the first round. Overton head coach Paul Heusinkvelt says the Tigers are legit, and his team must be ready. "Palmer is a tough physical team that can run and pass. I think we still win the battle up front, but we will have to play well on Wednesday."

Overton certainly played well against Clearwater/Orchard, but must turn in an even better performance versus Palmer. Heusinkvelt says winning the turnover battle is key. "We need to perform at a championship level on both sides of the ball from here out. The teams get better and better every round so we will need to take care of the ball and try to create turnovers on defense."

The Eagles are a team that like to run, but at the same time will throw. Heusinkvelt expects to see a lot of base from the Tigers defensively. "Yeah a lot of bigs. They play like a four front, or we called it a two front with two locked up linebackers as ends. And so they're looking to stop the run just like us. Stop the run first, and then make us pass. So I'm hoping for us that kind of works to our advantage cause we can run the ball and pass the ball."

Mitch Glause is Palmer's leading rusher on the year with 772 yards and 14 touchdowns. Kordell Glause has 876 yards passing with 14 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.

The Tigers are 7-2 on the season.

Overton should be able to win this game without a lot of trouble. I suspect Palmer will play well early, but I look for the Eagles to pull away in about the middle of the second quarter, and keep adding to their lead. I just think there's too much talent on this Overton team for them to lose.

Wednesday's contest is slated to kickoff at 6 p.m. Pregame is scheduled for 5:50 on 93.1 the River KRVN FM.

Cozad beats Minden in first round of playoffs

Cozad used a fast start jumping out to a 20-0 lead over Minden in the first quarter and cruised to a 61-14 win in the first round of the Class C-1 state playoffs.

The Haymakers picked off three passes from Minden quarterback Jonathan Miller as they put the game away early.

Colin Wetovick started the scoring for Cozad as he returned an interception 20 yards for the first score of the night. Then after another Minden interception, Jake Paulsen took it in from 15 yards. Cozad would score again in the first as Nate Bubak hit Conor Young with a 19 yard TD reception.

In the second quarter, Alex Boryca, Wetovick, Young and Jake Paulsen would all score again as the Haymakers led 54-0.

In the second half, Minden would score twice in the third quarter on short touchdown runs from Quin Rutt and Jacob Choquette. Brian Messersmith had the final TD of the night for Cozad with 3:34 remaining.

This was Cozad's first playoff win since 2007 as they improved to 9-0 on the year.

Top seeded Cozad gets ready to take on 9th seeded Pierce in the second round on Wednesday.

This game figures to be close. Cozad head coach Brian Cargill says his bunch is ready to take on the Bluejays, who are a traditional power. "When you play a team with great tradition and a high standard it is a great challenge to live up to that standard. We’re looking forward to the game and expecting excellent competition."

Pierce won their opening round playoff game over Ogallala, 31-13. Cargill says he expects the Bluejays to be physical. "They're physical up front. We feel we've played some teams that would be the equivalent obviously, but you never know until you get to the actual ball game. They're going to be a solid team up front. But I tell the kids, I said there's no excuse on our behalf. This is something we've prided ourself on for a long time so we just need to get out and work hard."

The Haymakers totaled 335 yards of offense against the Whippets while giving up 124. Cargill says for the most part he was happy with how his team played. "Very pleased with all aspects we just need to clean up some needless penalties."

Cozad certainly has to take care of the ball well against Pierce. Cargill says that will be one of the keys to the game. "Keys to winning the game will be turnovers, execution, and field position."

The Haymakers will look to get Paulsen going as he had 73 yards rushing on 7 carries, including two touchdowns against Minden.

Collin Freeman leads the Bluejays on the ground with 835 yards on the season, including 19 touchdowns. Lane Lohrich has 671 yards rushing and 675 yards passing.

Pierce comes in with a 7-2 record.

Certainly the Bluejays have a rich football tradition, and are very tough to beat, especially at their place. However, this Cozad team is for real, and I look for them to go up there and come away with the win. Paulsen has to have a big game.

Wednesday's game in Pierce kicks off at 3 p.m. It can be heard on 93.1 the River KRVN FM with pregame starting at 2:50.

Gothenburg knocks off Chase County in first round of playoffs

The Gothenburg Swedes and the Chase County Longhorns met in the first round of the C-1 playoffs Thursday night.

The Swedes were dominant defensively throughout he whole game only allowing a couple of touchdowns late when their second team members were in.

The Swedes would take the lead on their opening drive with a 36 yard field goal from Trent Long and would never look back as they led 24 to 0 at the end of the first half and would extend their lead to 31 to 0 in the beginning of the 4th quarter before winning out 31-15.

Dawson Graham threw for a pair of touchdown passes and Blake Ristine ran for over a hundred yards.

Gothenburg and Broken Bow meet in the second round in Gothenburg on Wednesday. The two teams played each other in the regular season with the Swedes winning 3-0 on the road.

Gothenburg Head coach Craig Haake says his squad is looking forward to the opportunity. "We are excited about advancing to the 2nd round of the playoffs and getting to host another game. We approach it as another game but Gothenburg - Bow has produced some great, close games lately."

Neither offense could get much going the first time around. Haake says the Swedes will try and change that by finishing. "I am sure both sides are going to try to clean up the offensive execution but both teams play great D. We need to finish drives- we moved the ball to the 20s but did not cash in on the last game- we need to score- and score TDs."

Both teams come in with a record of 7-2 as the Indians defeated Grand Island Central Catholic 22-14 in the first round.

I look for this to be an all out slugfest. Both have a lot of talent that can be utilized in a number of different ways. Expect this to be your typical Gothenburg/Broken Bow game.

Wednesday's game is set to kickoff at 6 p.m. Pregame is set for 5:50 on AM 880 KRVN.

Elm Creek defeats Niobrara/Verdigre in opening round of playoffs

Elm Creek started the playoffs off well Thursday, beating Niobrara/Verdigre 54-14 at home in the first round.

Christian Best started the scoring for the Buffaloes as he scampered 44 yards to the house. Nic Crowley ran a touchdown in from 6 yards out to give Elm Creek a 14-0 lead. The score became 21-0 when Hayden Geis rumbled 69 yards to the end zone. The final first quarter touchdown for the Buffaloes came from Zach Johnson, who hauled in an 11-yard pass from Crowley.

The score at the end of one was 27-6 in favor of Elm Creek.

The Buffaloes continued to pour it on in the second quarter as Jake Bartling found the end zone from 4 yards out, making the score 34-6 Elm Creek. Crowley found the end zone a second time to make it a 41-6 lead for the Buffaloes. The final second quarter touchdown for Elm Creek came from Devon Halliwell, who caught a 21-yard pass from Crowley.

William Bloom accounted for the Buffaloes' final touchdown as he scored on a run from 3 yards out in the fourth quarter.

Geis was the team's leading rusher with 7 carries for 93 yards and a touchdown. Best had 76 yards on 8 carries, including one score.

Crowley was 5-7 passing for 87 yards with a touchdown.

Elm Creek totaled 417 yards of offense, including 309 rushing. The defense surrendered 199 yards, 153 coming on the ground.

Bartling racked up a team-high 12 tackles.

The Buffaloes (8-1) host Burwell (8-1) in the second round of the playoffs on Wednesday.

The game is a rematch of last year's second round when Elm Creek went up to Burwell and upset the Longhorns.

Burwell is now in the position to pull off the upset, something the Buffaloes look to avoid.

To win, Elm Creek has to play a four quarter game. The Buffaloes must play well the entire game, and can't afford to take any plays off.

Elm Creek has to play its best game of the season to come away with the win.

That means running the ball with Geis and Best. I'm not so sure those two got enough carries in the Niobrara/Verdigre game. You would like to see them both get around 10-15 carries at least.

It would be a plus to have both backs go over the century mark.

You still want Crowley making plays in the passing game, but it never hurts to rely on your bread and butter. Geis and Best are very good backs, and can be difference makers in this game.

Revenge will certainly be a factor in this game, at least from the Burwell point of view. The Longhorns will be chomping at the bit to get back at the Buffaloes after what happened last year.

Elm Creek can't let any of that get to them. This is a new game, and a new year, and that's how the Buffaloes have to approach it.

Elm Creek has to be focused, determined and ready. The Buffaloes can't be looking past the Longhorns.

The Buffaloes have their sights set on bigger and better things than the second round, but they must take things one game at a time.

I look for Elm Creek to play one of their best games of the year in this one. I like the Buffaloes' chances of winning and advancing to the quarterfinals.

Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Loomis beats Bertrand in first round of playoffs

The Loomis Wolves turned in a big performance Thursday night, defeating Bertrand 56-28 at home in the first round of the playoffs.

The Vikings took a 6-0 lead at the end of one. The Wolves responded with 16 second quarter points. Bertrand countered with 8 and the halftime score was 16-14 in favor of Loomis.

The Wolves sort of broke things open in the third quarter, putting up 28 points to the Vikings' 14. Loomis led 44-28 at the end of three.

The Wolves totaled 12 fourth quarter points to make up the final score.

Jack Otting-Crandell had a monster game running the ball, amassing 193 yards on 34 carries, including four touchdowns. Zach Clark added 157 yards rushing on 18 attempts, and three touchdowns.

Loomis had 491 yards of total offense, 448 coming on the ground.

Kelly Thorell led the way defensively with 15 tackles. Gradyn Ludeke racked up 13 while Andrew Abramson and Andrew Otting-Crandell had 10 each.

The Wolves (7-2) take on Amherst (8-1) in the second round of the playoffs on Wednesday.

The game is a rematch of a regular season match up won by the 5th seeded Broncos 27-16.

It could be argued that both teams are better now than they were then, especially 4th seeded Loomis.

The Wolves really got things going when they knocked off Bertrand on October 4th, and have been unstoppable ever since.

It looked like Amherst was going to have a perfect regular season until they lost their finale to Lawrence-Nelson.

This should be a very good game between two very good teams. Clark and Jack Otting-Crandell have to run the ball the way they did against the Vikings for Loomis to come away with the victory.

I give the Wolves the slight edge with the game being in Loomis, but things could really go either way.

Loomis has to run the ball well to win. That is the key for them in this game.

The Wolves really have something working for them here in that no one thought they would ever get to this point. No one expected Loomis to be in the second round of the playoffs this year. At the beginning of the season this team was looked at as maybe a two win team. Well here the Wolves are with another chance to prove their doubters wrong. Another chance to continue what has been a season to remember.

A victory would likely set up a rematch with Wallace in the quarterfinals. I know Loomis would like to get another shot at the Wildcats as they did not play their best football in the regular season meeting between the two teams.

To get another shot at Wallace, Loomis must tackle well, in addition to running well against Amherst. The Broncos will be amped up and ready to play, which means the Wolves better be ready to bring it as well.

Look for Loomis to be super fired up for this one. I suspect the Wolves will turn in one of their better performances of the season. Whether or not it will be good enough for a win, we will see. Kickoff is set for 7:00.

Kearney defeats North Platte to end regular season

The Kearney Bearcats secured a spot in the Class A playoffs with a 48-21 home win over North Platte last Friday night.

Kearney went ahead 21-0 at the end of one and led 35-7 at halftime. Both teams scored 7 points in the third quarter as the score was 42-14 at the end of three. The Bearcats scored 6 in the fourth quarter, compared to 7 for the Bulldogs.

Tyler Gillen led the way in rushing with 89 yards on 9 carries, including two touchdowns. Matt Koester ran the ball 9 times for 63 yards, scoring once.

Kearney totaled 335 yards of offense, 283 coming on the ground.

Brian Arp made a team-high 10 tackles.

Kearney (5-4) gets ready for tonight's playoff showdown with top seeded Millard West (8-1).

The Wildcats have been fairly dominant this year, beating a number of quality teams. Their only loss is to Omaha Burke, who is the 3rd seed in the playoffs.

The Bearcats are going to have to play well to pull off the upset, there's no doubt about it. Gillen and Koester need to be effective running the ball for Kearney to have any chance.

The Bearcats must get production out of their passing game as well. Jacob White and Peyton Pocock have to show Millard West they can throw the ball effectively so the Wildcats respect that part of their game.

The defense has to play physical and tackle well. Kearney must wrap up every chance it gets. The Bearcats can't afford to miss tackles, and allow the Wildcats to break big runs and score on long passes.

Kearney has to force Millard West to drive the ball the length of the field, and earn everything they get. Nothing should come easy against this Bearcat defense.

Kearney has to play like they have nothing to lose, because they don't. The playoffs weren't looking likely a few weeks back, but here the Bearcats are. An opportunity to go in and upset a Class A power.

All the pressure will be on the Wildcats. Kearney has to play loose, excited, and must have energy. The Bearcats have to be fired up and raring to go for this one, which I'm sure they will be.

Kearney has a tremendous opportunity in front of them. I really look for the Bearcats to give Millard West all they can handle.

It's important for Kearney to play hard for all four quarters, and never give up. This team has to keep fighting until the final whistle.

We will see if the Bearcats can pull off the biggest upset of the Class A playoffs tonight.
Lexington loses last game at McCook

Lexington wrapped up the regular season with a 26-13 loss at McCook on Friday night. Lexington led 13-9 at the half but McCook seized the lead with a 15-yard td run from Trevor Matson with 2:27 left in the 3rd quarter to go up 16-13. Lexington appeared to be on the verge of retaking the lead at the start of the fourth quarter but Eric Lemus fumbled at the goal line as the Bison recovered in the end zone.

McCook then put the game away as Matson, who had 212 yards on 32 carries, raced in from 33 yards out with 6:58 left in the fourth. Lexington grabbed the lead in the first half on a pair of touchdown passes to Arliss Alvarez, one from 67 yards and the other from 13 yards from Morgan Ansbach. Lexington closes out the year at 4-5. McCook has now beaten Lexington 14 straight times. 

The game certainly didn't end the way the Minutemen would have liked, but the Bison are a very good team, and Lexington gave them a game for four quarters.

The Minutemen should be very proud of the season they had. Lexington made lots of nice improvements over last season to get where they did this year.

Sure they should of beaten Alliance, but who would of thought they would of beaten Sidney, who is playoff bound?

Four of the Minutemen's five losses came to solid teams.

A foundation for success was laid by this year's seniors. This class helped turn around a program that had really struggled in recent years. Lexington played very well together, as a team, and for the most part maximized their potential.

Hats off to first year head coach Jeff Rowan, who has this program headed in the right direction. The way he turned this team around is nothing short of incredible.

The whole Lexington team should be commended for their efforts this season.

As we look towards the future, the Minutemen will have some talent to replace. Lexington loses a couple of wideouts in Alvarez and Lewis Lewis. Filling the shoes of those two will not be easy.

The Minutemen must work their tails off this offseason if they want to have an even better year next year than they did this year. Teams won't be taken by surprise next season. They now know what Lexington is capable of.

That's not to say the Minutemen snuck up on some teams this year, but they may have caught a couple of opponents by surprise.

Lexington is going to have to work that much harder next year to have a good season. Teams will now be gunning for them more than they have in the past.

Only time will tell how good the 2014 Lexington Minutemen will be. An offseason of weightlifting, camps, and individual practices can make all the difference. It is going to take a lot of dedication from the Minutemen to be good again. We will find out if they are up to the task.