Bertrand fell one game short of a Class D-2 Semifinal match up with Giltner as the Vikings' season ended in a 48-26 home loss to Shelton in the quarters on Tuesday, November 6th.
Head coach Brent Streeter says the Bulldogs' defense was the biggest difference in the game. "Shelton's size did give us a few problems in our base offense. The two defensive tackles were a little more mobile than advertised at least on this night I thought they played well. Defensively Shelton had quite a bit more team speed than I had anticipated. They did a good job at contain and also played good bump technique on our receivers which threw off our timing just a hair. We had a lot of passes just off the finger tips. That was huge."
2nd seeded Shelton was much tougher defensively than 3rd seeded Kenesaw, who gave up 82 points and 711 yards of total offense to the 6th seeded Vikings. But Bertrand was not all that successful in slowing down the Devils either, giving up 45 points and 406 total yards. Streeter says the Vikings also struggled on defense against Shelton, especially when it came to defending their quarterback and running back. "I thought that Glenn and the quarterback Stoppkotte were every bit as good as advertised. We just couldn't get a handle on Glenn. Very shifty and physical at the same time. They got us off balance in our calls and then got us on the run. We didn't play particularly well but Shelton's game plan had a lot to do with that. They physically beat us."
Despite getting outmanned by Shelton, Streeter says this year's team exceeded expectations, which is a tribute to their dedication to the program. "I think our players pretty much answered all the questions marks we had going into this season about filling a ton of starting positions. We had quite a few pre-season ideas that we thought we may have to do but our players, especially up front in the line were a lot better than anyone would of expected or given em credit for. They did a great job so we just stuck to Viking football and it worked out great. Our senior leadership by the entire class had a big role to our success this season. I feel it was their commitment and trust in our system over the course of their careers which made the biggest difference. Even when they were not getting the playing time they were working hard and learning and they were definitely rewarded for it."
Gothenburg's bid to reach the state semifinals of the Class C-1 playoffs fell short as the Swedes were beat 38-20 on the road by Boone Central/Newman Grove on Tuesday, November 6th.
13th seeded Gothenburg's defense struggled early as top seeded Boone Central/Newman Grove marched 64 yards on their first offensive possession to take a 7-0 lead.
Shortly thereafter, the Swedes nodded things up at 7 apiece as running back Zach Wolf connected with quarterback Blake Ristine on a 65-yard touchdown pass.
That was the only time Gothenburg would tie the game though as Boone Central/Newman Grove went up for good at 14-7 after returning the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown.
If momentum didn't swing there, it swung when Gothenburg went for it on 4th and 1 at their own 46 and got turned away. Boone Central/Newman Grove scored on the very next play to make it 21-7, and that sort of seemed to take the wind out of the Swedes' sails.
After hitting a field goal late in the first half to go up 24-7 at halftime, the Cardinals built a 38-7 advantage in the third quarter thanks to two straight Gothenburg fumbles to open the second half.
The Swedes continued to play hard as they found the end zone two more times, but it was too little too late.
Head coach Craig Haake says the Cardinals won the battle at the line of scrimmage, and that made it difficult for his team to execute. "Boone was tough on us. They took away our running game, we just could not handle them up front. Early we hit some play action passes but we were not able to run consistently and our pass game is based on our ability to run so our pass pro suffered as the game went on."
Running back Logan Sheets was the team's leading rusher with 35 yards on 11 carries. Ristine added 27 yards on 9 attempts. He was 3-9 through the air for 38 yards.
Gothenburg (6-5) had 248 yards of total offense, including 136 on the ground. The Swedes surrendered 275 yards to Boone Central/Newman Grove, 158 of them rushing.
Haake says the Cardinals were a complete team. "That team (BC) had stout of and d lines and offensive weapons all over the field. Their QB was an excellent playmaker with his feet and his arm. I was very impressed with their team speed and their special teams they killed us. They returned one kick for a TD and had several other returns which gave that offense a short field. Not a good combo for us."
Gothenburg was missing kicker Trent Long, who was injured. And that was one reason why the Cardinals had short fields, in addition to poor special teams tackling by the Swedes.
Boone Central/Newman Grove was the real deal though as they wound up being the state runner-up in Class C-1.
For Gothenburg, making it to the quarters for the second year in a row was a huge accomplishment, considering they were a young team. Haake says his squad didn't reach their full potential right away. "It took a while this year for our team to realize what they could do. We only returned 2 and 3 starters on both sides of the ball and very few up front so I think it took a while for those units to gel and realize how good they could be. We got great leadership from the sr. leaders and captains we had this year. This team had great chemistry and just kept working to get better and we did."
I think the one thing that this year's team will always be remembered for is their opening round playoff win at Cozad. The Swedes lost 42-7 at home to the Haymakers in the regular season, but turned the tables on October 25th, shutting out Cozad 23-0.
Gothenburg graduates some size in Sheets, tight end/defensive end Logan Koehler, and linemen Garett James and Jake Matthies, but brings back Ristine, running backs Zach Wolf and Skyler Kottwitz, linemen Adam Speck, Tanner Borchardt, and Roy Slack, plus Long.
The Swedes also lose running back Preston Franzen, but that's good news for Wolf and Kottwitz, who should be able to focus better in the offseason knowing they are most likely the number one and two backs going into next year. They split time with Franzen and Sheets this season, and while its a luxury to be able to play four good running backs, it can be difficult splitting carries.
I don't think there are as many question marks for Gothenburg heading into 2013 as there were going into this season.
As Haake said, the Swedes graduated the majority of their line from 2011. As a matter of fact, Koehler was the only one back this year. It won't be easy replacing James and Matthies next year, but I believe Gothenburg is prepared to move on without them. I look for Speck and Borchardt to help anchor both sides of the line next season.
Having Ristine back at quarterback should help for continuity purposes. Wolf and Kottwitz know his tendencies of when to hand the ball off or not, and returning linemen have a pretty good idea of where he wants to run the ball, which helps blocking.
Look for the Swedes to be in the thick of things again next year. I'll be very surprised if they don't make their 12th straight playoff appearance.
Head coach Jayce Dueland's very successful first season came to a close when Elm Creek lost at Arapahoe, 32-26, in the state quarterfinals of the Class D-1 playoffs on Tuesday, November 6th.
The game started out slow as Arapahoe scored the only first quarter points to lead 6-0 going into the second quarter. Elm Creek was able to put up a couple scores in the second period, notching 13 points, but still found themselves down 20-13 at halftime as the Warriors added 14 of their own in the second.
The third quarter was identical to the first as Elm Creek's defense was tough, giving up just six points, but the offense was shutout.
Trailing 26-13 going into the fourth quarter, Elm Creek faced the same situation it did at Burwell one round earlier. Down two scores and needing a quick start in the fourth to get back in the game.
Well the Buffaloes got back into the game alright, tying things up at 26 with 13 straight fourth quarter points.
The Buffaloes' best chance to win the contest came when the defense stopped the Warriors on a 4th and 1 from around the Arapahoe 25. However, the offense was unable to take advantage, and that set up the game winning touchdown for the Warriors, a 20-yard swing pass from quarterback Caden Weverka to running back Gage Schutz.
Running back Zac Crowley led the team in rushing with 212 yards on 25 carries, including two touchdowns. Quarterback Britton Ferguson ran the ball 13 times for 42 yards, and a touchdown. Ferguson was 3-8 for 49 yards passing. All three completions were to Crowley, who also returned a kickoff to the house.
On defense, Jake Bartling recorded a team-high 18 tackles. Crowley, Ferguson, Brogan Else, Hayden Geis, and Zach Johnson each made 10.
Elm Creek totaled 311 yards of offense, 262 coming on the ground. The Buffaloes gave up 386 yards of total offense to Arapahoe, including 334 rushing.
For the year, Crowley led the team in rushing, compiling 1,147 yards on 169 attempts, including 21 touchdowns. Ferguson found the end zone on 9 separate occasions, carrying the ball 107 times for 624 yards.
Ferguson went 29-70 through the air for 560 yards with nine touchdowns and four interceptions.
Bartling led the way defensively with 121 tackles, 82 of them solo. Else finished with 83 while Crowley made 81.
A 9-2 season and a state quarterfinal playoff appearance is pretty dang good for a team with a first year head coach. Dueland says he thought the Buffaloes had a chance to be good, but did not foresee this. "I didn't know what to expect going in. This was all new to me and I thought if we stayed healthy throughout the year we could do some really good things. This success was above my expectations from the start of the year. As the year went on it is a little disappointing being that close and falling short."
Elm Creek had a golden opportunity to take the lead late against Arapahoe and that might be the most disappointing thing about the loss.
But there's nothing to be ashamed of if you're Elm Creek. Dueland says his team fought hard all season, and was very tough minded. "I learned these group of players had a lot of heart and never gave up. They came to practice everyday wanting to get better. I feel the players have learned what it takes to win each week. No matter who you play you need to keep getting better so that when you get to the playoffs you are playing your best football."
There is no doubt the Buffaloes played their best football in the playoffs as they upset top-seeded Burwell, 42-40, in the second round, after knocking off SMC 58-26 in the opening round.
Dueland credits his seniors for this year's success. "The seniors were a great group of kids. They made it much easier for me to coach."
Among the seniors Elm Creek loses are Crowley, Ferguson, and Else. Dueland says he hopes returning players will use this year as motivation in the offseason, but the seniors will be sorely missed."We will have a tough time replacing these seniors. The younger kids got a taste of what it feels like to get deep in the playoffs and hopefully that pushes them during the summer in the weight room."
The Buffaloes return Bartling, Geis, Kyler Beck, and Nic Crowley, among others.
There's no doubt every one of them will have increased roles, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
This year, Bartling pounded the rock 29 times for 166 yards, and caught 3 passes for 80 yards, scoring four total touchdowns.
Geis carried the ball 65 times for 454 yards, and scored six touchdowns. Beck racked up 155 yards on the ground on 28 carries, and found pay dirt three times.
Nic Crowley was Elm Creek's second leading receiver with 4 receptions for 138 yards, and four TD's.
Plan on Geis being a huge force on the defensive side of the ball again as he recorded 73 tackles this year. Johnson rolled up 70, and I expect those two and Bartling to make a pretty deadly combination in 2013.
Elm Creek should be very competitive again next season, but whoever takes on the role of starting quarterback will have some big shoes to fill. Based on this year's roster, next year's quarterback competition will be between Junior to be Gabriel Hubbard and Sophomore to be Jeffrey West. At this point, its hard saying who gets the nod, but I think whoever handles pressure the best in practice will have the upper hand. Regardless of who the quarterback is though, watch out for Elm Creek again in 2013.
Arapahoe's spectacular season ended last Monday in a 42-6 loss at Elgin Public/Pope John in the Class D-1 Semifinals.
The 5th seeded Warriors held their own for a quarter as they trailed just 6-0 at the end of one. However, the offense remained ineffective in the second quarter, and the 3rd seeded Wolfpack took advantage by putting up 14 points to go ahead 20-0 at halftime.
The Warriors' offense continued to struggle in the third quarter, and although the defense held Elgin Public/Pope John to only six points, a 26-0 deficit heading into the fourth quarter was too tall of an order for Arapahoe to handle. The Wolfpack added 16 more points in the final period, and a long pass touchdown pass from quarterback Caden Weverka to end Isaac Watson was needed to prevent the shutout.
Sealey says Elgin Public/Pope John played their assignments well defensively, and didn't have to change anything up. "As far as I know they didn't make any adjustments, they kept doing what they have done all year. They played sound defense. Excellent speed, excellent tacklers, and got off blocks well."
The playoffs started with a bang for Arapahoe as they blasted South Loup, 44-13, in the first round on October 25th.
The game was close early on as Arapahoe led just 8-6 after the first quarter. And even though the Warriors found some breathing room in the second quarter by outscoring South Loup 14-7 to take a 22-13 lead into the locker room, things were still too close for comfort.
There wasn't anything to worry about though as the defense shutout the Bobcats in the second half, making sure there would be no upset. The offense did the rest, scoring 22 second half points to put the proverbial nail in the coffin.
For the first time since 1984 Arapahoe is in the state semifinals as it beat Elm Creek 32-26 at home in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.
5th seeded Arapahoe (11-0) struck first as quarterback Caden Weverka scored the first of his four rushing touchdowns in the opening period to give the Warriors a 6-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
Weverka found pay dirt twice more in the second stanza, but Elm Creek's Zac Crowley gave the 8th seeded Buffaloes a lift with a 70-yard kickoff return for a TD, and after they added another touchdown it was 20-13 at halftime in favor of Arapahoe.
The third quarter was just like the first in that both defenses held strong, but that didn't stop Weverka from punching in rushing touchdown number four as he made it 26-13 Warriors heading into the final quarter.
But Elm Creek was not done. Just like in their win over Burwell, the Buffaloes faced a two score deficit in the fourth. And identical to that game, Elm Creek came back, only this time to tie things up instead of take the lead as Crowley found the end zone twice on the ground.
Gut check time came late in the game for Arapahoe. The Warriors lined up to go for a 4th and 1 at about their own 25. But they were stopped short, putting the defense in a really tough spot.
However, like good defenses do, the Warriors rose to the occasion and prevented the Buffaloes from going ahead.
That set the stage for what took place next. Arapahoe was in a battle with the clock in their final drive, needing to move the ball at a fairly rapid pace for a potential game winning score.
Well the Warriors' clock management was excellent as Weverka found running back Gage Schutz for a 20-yard touchdown on a swing pass that put Arapahoe in the lead for good at 32-26 with 14 ticks left.
Weverka was certainly the thorn in the Buffaloes' backside this season as he made a contribution to every score in this game after accounting for all of Arapahoe's points in their 36-20 regular season win over Elm Creek on September 21st.
He finished with 249 yards rushing on 38 carries and threw for 52 more as he was 3-9.
Wyatt Anderson led the charge defensively with 17 tackles. Patrick Gardner made 12.
The Warriors finished with 386 yards of total offense, 334 coming on the ground.
So Arapahoe passed its quarterfinal test, but will it pass its semifinal test on Monday and reach the D-1 State Championship? Well if the Warriors are to make it to Memorial Stadium they will have earned it as the road to Lincoln goes through Elgin.
3rd seeded Elgin Public/Pope John (11-0), the defending Class D-1 state champs, seem to be hitting on all cylinders right now as they've steamrolled their first 3 playoff opponents by a combined score of 158-19.
In fact the Wolfpack have only been in one close game this year, that coming in the form of a 32-22 win over Creighton on September 21st. Elgin Public/Pope John has put up 60+ five times this year, including the last time out against Loup City in the Wolfpack's 60-13 quarterfinal win.
But what makes them so tough? Well for starters they have a bruiser at fullback in Blake Anderson who is a load to bring down. When its third and short you can bank on him getting the rock based on what I saw when Elgin Public/Pope John played Overton last year.
The Wolfpack are strong defensively as well. Weverka and Arapahoe have to be aware of Ross Schindler's whereabouts on the field. He'll do whatever he can to change the game from his safety position.
That's the match-up I'm most interested to see. Weverka vs. Schindler. Quarterback vs. Quarterback. Which one will shine more? Weverka also plays in the defensive secondary so I'm curious to see how things materialize.
Linebacker play is key as well. In my opinion, this is the strength of the Arapahoe defense with Schutz and Anderson manning the middle. But the Wolfpack are tough there also so it should be a pretty good match up.
I think that's the storyline of this game; match ups. Who will win the individual one on one battles? Who's line performs better? As good as Arapahoe's been up front this season, I think they need to step things up even more tomorrow. I feel that goes for the rest of the team.
Schutz's power running will be critical. He had 85 yards rushing on 20 carries against Elm Creek, which is solid, but he'll need to crack the 100-yard mark for the Warriors to have a good chance of winning, in my opinion.
Arapahoe also has to protect the football. The Warriors cannot afford to turn it over. I think they must force at least a couple turnovers of their own to win.
It should be an exciting game with a trip to Lincoln at stake. The team that makes the most plays will come away with the victory. Its that simple in my mind.
Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. in Elgin. Good luck Warriors!
6th seeded Bertrand earned a gigantic win over 3rd seeded Kenesaw in the second round of the Class D-2 playoffs, beating the Devils 82-45 on the road Wednesday night.
5th seeded Arapahoe (10-0) takes on 8th seeded Elm Creek tonight in the Class D-1 quarterfinals after beating Maxwell on the road 16-0 Wednesday night.
The Warriors' defense kept the Wildcats' offense at bay, which was critical given how Arapahoe played offensively.
The Warriors went up 8-0 in the first quarter, but the score remained the same until the fourth, when they made it 16-0.
8th seeded Elm Creek pulled off what has to be the biggest upset of the Class D-1 playoffs so far in beating top seeded Burwell 42-40 on the road Wednesday night.
The Buffaloes (9-1) found themselves down 34-22 heading into the fourth quarter. But instead of panicking, Elm Creek stayed the course, completing a long halfback pass for a touchdown to pull within a single score.
The Buffaloes eventually grabbed the lead at 42-34 before the Longhorns got into the end zone to pull within 2 at 42-40 after missing the two-point conversion.
Elm Creek nearly lost it at the end, but the defense held strong and Burwell missed what would of been the game winning field goal with 35 seconds remaining.
The Buffaloes gained 320 yards of total offense. Ferguson led the way defensively with 13 tackles while Zac Crowley made 9.
The Buffaloes came away with a 58-26 victory thanks to a big night from Zac Crowley, who ran for 188 yards on 23 attempts, and accounted for 266 total.
Elm Creek had 346 yards of total offense, including 305 on the ground.
The wins over SMC and Burwell move Elm Creek into the quarterfinals against Arapahoe tonight. The game is a rematch of a regular season game won by the Warriors, 36-20.
Weverka gave Elm Creek all sorts of trouble in the September 21st meeting, accounting for all 36 of their points and 231 of their 351 yards of total offense.
So without a doubt the Buffaloes need to do a much better job on him, especially when it comes to run defense. Weverka rushed for 169 yards the first go around, and Elm Creek can't let that happen again. Maxwell held him to just 76 yards in their second round playoff match up with the Warriors, showing its not impossible to limit him. Schutz went for 108 so the Buffaloes must do a better job on him this time as well.
Just when you didn't think it could possibly happen again, Gothenburg reached the state quarterfinals of the Class C-1 playoffs for the second year in a row with a 12-0 win at Chadron on Wednesday.
The game was a defensive struggle throughout as the only score of the first half came on a 1-yard touchdown run from quarterback Blake Ristine. The TD, which came at the 10:52 mark of the second quarter, put the Swedes up 6-0 at halftime.
In the second half, the Gothenburg defense continued their dominance, thwarting any Cardinals' scoring opportunities. Logan Koehler put the icing on the cake when he brought in a pass and rumbled 64 yards to the house with 2:53 remaining in the game.
Arapahoe hopes to continue its dominance tonight when it takes on Maxwell on the road in the second round of the Class D-1 playoffs.
The 13th seeded Wildcats (4-5) upset Paxton on Thursday in blowout fashion, 40-12. The 5th seeded Warriors (9-0) downed South Loup 44-13 in the opening round.
This is the second meeting between the two teams this season. Head coach Dustin Sealey says his defense simply has to stop the run tonight. "We just have to keep doing what we have been doing. Brandon Fletcher for Maxwell is a good football player and runs the ball effectively. Their fullback is also a big physical kid, we struggled to tackle him during our last meeting. Also, their end Tanner Vedder is very effective on end arounds and can catch the ball."
Arapahoe must of been doing something right in the first meeting on August 31st as they held the Wildcats scoreless through three quarters. Sealey says its important for the Warriors to get a good push up front and make Maxwell's linebackers a non factor tonight. "Their defense is very unpredictable, they do a lot of different things. The main thing is that our offensive lineman get to the second level. Their linebackers are fast and made a lot of plays the last time we played. The deciding factor is going to be, who can run the ball."
Arapahoe beat Maxwell 52-14 at home on the 31st of August. The Warriors led 52-0 at the end of the third quarter.
That was due in large part to quarterback Caden Weverka, who passed for two touchdowns, and ran for three more, while racking up 109 yards on the ground.
Weverka has really been the sparkplug of the Arapahoe offense all season. But in the team's playoff win over South Loup, running back Gage Schutz provided some much needed power running, racking up 104 yards on 22 carries. Weverka ran the ball 23 times for 150 yards. Simply put, that's a deadly combination for any team to stop, especially a team like Maxwell that got blown out in their first meeting with Arapahoe.
The Wildcats are a better team now than they were then, there's no doubt about it. They are playing their best football of the season. However, Arapahoe is also a lot better now than they were then and it doesn't appear as if they're going to slow down.
With the game being in Maxwell, I think it will be closer than last time. But I still expect Arapahoe to win fairly large. I'm going to say Arapahoe 47 Maxwell 20.
6th seeded Bertrand looks to knock off 3rd seeded Kenesaw in the second round of the Class D-2 playoffs tonight in what figures to be an intriguing match up.
The D-2, No. 7 Vikings (9-0) beat Amherst 42-6 in the first round on Thursday while the D-2, No. 5 Devils (8-1) won 62-21 over Hayes Center.
Elm Creek head coach Jayce Dueland is 1-0 all-time in the playoffs as his Buffaloes won their first round playoff game against SMC, 58-26, at home on Thursday.
The win means 8th seeded Elm Creek (8-1) is at top seeded Burwell (9-0) tonight for the second round of the Class D-1 playoffs.
Gothenburg (5-4) travels up to Chadron (6-3) today for the second round of the Class C-1 playoffs in hopes of pulling off a huge road win and advancing to the quarterfinals to play either Chase County or Boone Central/Newman Grove next Tuesday.
The 13th seeded Swedes got to the second round after shutting out Cozad, 23-0, in the first round. The 12th seeded Cardinals hammered Valentine on the road in the first round, winning 35-13, after losing to the Badgers 20-14 in overtime in the last game of the regular season.
#1 Millard North over #16 Norfolk
#9 Omaha Westside over #8 Omaha Burke
#13 Papillion-Lavista over #4 Millard South
#5 Millard West over #12 Lincoln Pius X
#3 Kearney over #14 Omaha Central
#6 Omaha Creighton Prep over #11 Lincoln North Star
#7 Lincoln Southwest over #10 Omaha North
#2 Lincoln Southeast over #15 Bellevue West
#1 Millard North over #9 Omaha Westside
#5 Millard West over #13 Papillion-Lavista
#3 Kearney over #6 Omaha Creighton Prep
#2 Lincoln Southeast over #7 Lincoln Southwest
#1 Millard North over #5 Millard West
#2 Lincoln Southeast over #3 Kearney
#2 Lincoln Southeast over #1 Millard North
#1 Scottsbluff over #16 York
#8 Elkhorn over #9 Blair
#4 Omaha Skutt over #13 Ralston
#5 Omaha Gross over #12 Plattsmouth
#3 Beatrice over #14 Elkhorn South
#6 Aurora over #11 Grand Island Northwest
#7 McCook over #10 Norris
#2 Gretna over #15 South Sioux City
#1 Scottsbluff over #8 Elkhorn
#4 Omaha Skutt over #5 Omaha Gross
#3 Beatrice over #6 Aurora
#2 Gretna over #7 McCook
#1 Scottsbluff over #4 Omaha Skutt
#3 Beatrice over #2 Gretna
#1 Scottsbluff over #3 Beatrice
#1 Boone Central/Newman Grove over #9 Chase County
#13 Gothenburg over #12 Chadron
#3 Kearney Catholic over #6 Broken Bow
#2 Adams Central over #7 Grand Island Central Catholic
#1 Boone Central/Newman Grove over #13 Gothenburg
#2 Adams Central over #3 Kearney Catholic
#2 Adams Central over #1 Boone Central/Newman Grove
#2 Adams Central over #1 Norfolk Catholic (Out of East)
#8 Hastings St. Cecilia over #1 Sutton
#4 Blue Hill over #12 Hershey
#3 North Platte St. Pats over #6 Atkinson West Holt
#2 Crofton over #7 Doniphan-Trumbull
#8 Hastings St. Cecilia over #4 Blue Hill
#2 Crofton over #3 North Platte St. Pats
#2 Crofton over #8 Hastings St. Cecilia
#1 David City Aquinas (Out of East) over #2 Crofton
#1 Burwell over #8 Elm Creek
#5 Arapahoe over # 13 Maxwell
#3 Elgin/Elgin Pope John over #11 O'Neill St. Mary's
#2 Hemingford over #7 Loup City
#5 Arapahoe over #1 Burwell
#3 Elgin/Elgin Pope John over #2 Hemingford
#3 Elgin/Elgin Pope John over #5 Arapahoe
#1 Howells-Dodge (East Team) over #3 Elgin/Elgin Pope John
#1 Giltner over #9 Anselmo-Merna
#4 Medicine Valley over #5 Garden County
#3 Kenesaw over #6 Bertrand
#2 Shelton over #7 Spalding/Spalding Academy
#1 Giltner over #4 Medicine Valley
#3 Kenesaw over #2 Shelton
#1 Giltner over #3 Kenesaw
#1 Giltner over #2 Falls City Sacred Heart (East Team)
Class A, No. 3 Kearney scored 28 first quarter points and never looked back in last Friday night's 57-0 win at North Platte.
The Bearcats struck early and often as Hunter King raced downfield for a 66-yard touchdown run that put Kearney ahead 7-0. Running back Caleb Lundgren followed that up with a 72-yard scamper to give the Bearcats a 14-0 lead. Quarterback Luke McNitt connected with Isaac Brown for a 24-yard TD pass to make it 21-0.
Sam Utterback pounced on a fumble in the end zone to conclude the first quarter scoring.
In the second quarter, Kearney wasn't done as McNitt hooked up with wide out Hunter King for a 21-yard touchdown to extend the lead to five scores.
McNitt tossed his third touchdown pass when he hit Brown from 25 yards out, increasing the advantage to 41-0. A field goal gave the Bearcats a commanding 44-0 lead at the break.
Kearney pulled their starters in the second half with the game well in hand.
The Eagles are the 14 seed while the Bearcats are 3rd. Omaha Central is a very dangerous 14 seed though, at least in my eyes.
They are 5-4, but three of their losses have come by 6 points or less. Omaha Central fell to Omaha Westside, Omaha Burke, Omaha Creighton Prep, and Millard West in the regular season. All playoff qualifying teams.
However, none of their wins are very impressive. The Eagles' best win is over 4-5 Bellevue East.
Still though, Kearney (8-1) will get Omaha Central's best shot and they know it.
These two teams last met in the 2007 State Semifinals when Omaha Central came to Kearney and left with a 46-23 victory before going on to beat Millard North for the state title. That was the year Kearney had Brett Maher. Injuries caught up with the Bearcats as running back Rustin Dring was hurt for that one and didn't play.
But that was 5 years ago and none of these players were older than 7th grade. Plus Omaha Central is nowhere near the same team they were then. In 2007, the Eagles had Ronnell Grixby, the brother of former Huskers Cortney and DeAntae Grixby. And I don't know much about the Eagles' roster this year, but I'm willing to bet there aren't many players like that on the team now.
What helps Kearney this time around is they've stayed injury free for the most part. At least their main players have.
McNitt is one of the most heady players I've seen in a long time at the QB position for the Bearcats, and that's saying a lot given who Kearney's had back there. Joey Rousseau, Jared Loschen, and Zack Follmer all come to mind.
McNitt will know how to attack these Omaha Central defenders, in my opinion. I look for him and the rest of the Bearcats to be at their best tonight.
This is a good test for Kearney. They know they have to be ready to go right away and can't afford to have a bad game.
I look for the Bearcats to take this one by 17. Kearney 38 Omaha Central 21 is my prediction.
Its not often a team reaches the postseason after losing its final five games of the regular season, let alone when four of them are against district foes. But that's exactly what Minden did as the Whippets have now made the playoffs seven years in a row.
Minden's final district loss came to Chase County on the road in the regular season finale last Thursday. The Whippets were right with the Longhorns for over two-and-a-half quarters until Chase County rattled off 22 unanswered points to take control of the game late.
The Longhorns stuck first on a 47-yard touchdown run with 7:30 left in the first quarter to take a 6-0 lead. But the Whippets responded in the second quarter as Isaac Carlson ran 66 yards to the house to give Minden a 7-6 halftime lead.
Chase County pulled back in front 14-7 at the 4:04 mark of the third quarter thanks to a 3-yard TD run. The Longhorns upped their advantage to 20-7 early in the fourth quarter after scoring a touchdown on a 64-yard run.
Chase County put the game away on a TD run of 5 yards with just under five minutes left in the game.
Minden's final touchdown came with 49 seconds remaining in the contest when quarterback Jonas Lovin hooked up with R.J. Watson from 8 yards out.
Lovin was 9-26 passing for 145 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Ryan Chramosta led the Minden rushing attack with 71 yards on 21 carries.
Quin Rutt and Paul Carlson had big games defensively, racking up 14 and 13 tackles, respectively. Isaac Carlson made 9.
Minden (2-6) had 311 yards of total offense, including 166 on the ground. The Whippets allowed Chase County to roll up a total of 347 yards, 317 of them rushing.
Minden looks to do a better job of stopping the run at Class C-1, No. 1 Adams Central in the first round of the playoffs tonight.
That's much easier said than done though as Jake Fowler and company ran for 287 yards on the Whippets, the 15th seed in the west, when the two teams met 20 days ago.
Run defense has been the achilles heel of Minden all year. That and turnovers. So if the Whippets are to have any shot of springing the upset, they have to be much more physical at the line of scrimmage and take care of the ball better than they did in the first meeting against the 2nd seeded Patriots when Lovin was picked off three times.
Clearly, this year's Minden team is not even close to the level of last year's squad, but they made it to the semis a year ago, and until you knock them out this year, they're still a threat to pull of a stunner, at least in my mind.
Will it happen? My money says no, but the game of football can be funny sometimes. Anyone can beat anyone on any given day.
Minden has to stay on schedule offensively and the defense must get off the field when the opportunity arises. Its important for the Whippets to come out and play like they did in the first half and for much of the third quarter against Chase County.
If things are tight at the end, I think Minden can pull it out since the pressure would be squarely on the Patriots' shoulders.
That's the thing about this game. The Whippets aren't expected to win. They have nothing to lose. Adams Central is picked by many to make a deep playoff run. So all Minden can do is go in and have fun, and see how things play out.
Southern Valley was facing the possibility of not getting into the playoffs if they lost their final regular season game at Centura. Well the Eagles did fall to the Centurions, 28-20, last Thursday night. But luckily fate was on their side as they made the playoffs for the first time since 2006 when they were Class C-1.
Southern Valley had a good start to the Centura game as they took a 6-0 first quarter lead. Things remained tight throughout the first half as the score was nodded up at 12 heading into the locker room.
But the game changed in the third quarter. The Centurions outscored the Eagles 16-0, and Southern Valley wasn't quite able to make up the deficit, scoring just 8 points in the fourth quarter.
Running back Dakota Best led Southern Valley (4-4) in rushing with 89 yards on 13 carries. Christian Lewis pounded the rock 6 times for 47 yards.
Isaac Bergquist led the way defensively with 10 tackles. Dylan Brooks added 9.
The Eagles rolled up 198 yards of total offense, 159 of them coming on the ground. Southern Valley gave up 326 yards rushing, and 341 total.
Southern Valley plays all the way up at Class C-2, No. 5 Crofton today in the first round of the playoffs. The Eagles are the #15 seed on the western side of the bracket while the Warriors are the #2 seed.
Elm Creek got to 7 wins in the regular season, beating Southwest in their finale at home last Thursday, 58-22.
Like the Buffaloes have done throughout much of the season, they jumped out to a big lead.
Quarterback Britton Ferguson got things started as he rambled 18 yards for a touchdown to give Elm Creek a 7-0 first quarter advantage. Later in the quarter, Ferguson called his own number again, scampering 35 yards for a TD that put the Buffaloes ahead 15-0.
Running back Zac Crowley made it 21-0 Buffaloes at the end of one thanks an 8-yard TD dash. The Elm Creek lead grew to 27-0 in the second quarter when he darted 24 yards for his second rushing touchdown.
Jake Bartling plunged in from two yards out in the second period to make it 33-0. Elm Creek went up 40-0 at the half after Christian Best returned a fumble 25 yards to the house.
Running back Kyler Beck got the party started in the third quarter as he found pay dirt on a 20-yard run that increased the Buffaloes' lead to 46-0.
It was a 52-0 ballgame by the start of the fourth quarter as running back Hayden Geis scored the Buffaloes' second third quarter touchdown on a run of 25 yards. The final Elm Creek TD was scored by Jeff West, who struck gold on a 35-yard run. West was the seventh different Elm Creek player to find the end zone.
All of Southwest's points came in the fourth quarter on touchdown runs of 10, 65, and 45 yards.
Crowley led Elm Creek (7-1) with 105 yards rushing on 11 carries. Geis ran the ball 5 times for 67 yards. The Buffaloes totaled 402 yards of offense, all on the ground. Elm Creek surrendered 248 yards of total offense to Southwest (1-7), including 244 rushing.
On defense, Bartling made a team-high 11 tackles.
Elm Creek now focuses their efforts on Stapleton/McPherson County, who they host in the first round of the playoffs tonight.
9th seeded SMC brings a 6-2 record to town, boasting a 40-26 win over 6-2 Paxton in the regular season finale. It was their signature win of the year, and one of only two victories they had over teams with winning records.
8th seeded Elm Creek has only beat one team with a record above .500, and that's Overton. So the Buffaloes want to prove their worth tonight and show everyone they're for real.
But for Elm Creek to impress, they can't allow SMC to score a bunch of points at the end, assuming they build a big lead. The Buffaloes haven't finished games very well this season and I'm sure it has head coach Jayce Dueland pulling at his hair.
But speaking of Dueland, what a great job he's done in his first season at Elm Creek. Its not easy to come in and replace a legend like Stan Wissel, but Dueland's had this team ready to play each and every week, and that's a testament to his coaching.
Both the offensive and defensive lines must play really well there's no doubt about it. Dueland says that goes for everybody on both sides of the ball. "We need to be assignment perfect on defense, having everyone doing their jobs. Offensively we need to get after them up front and take care of the ball."
One would think the Buffaloes have the edge with the game being in Elm Creek. Dueland says playing at home has its benefits. "I think it’s a huge advantage. The kids are use to the surroundings and the crowd can swing the momentum."
The Buffaloes would love to advance past the first round of the playoffs this year after losing to Overton in the opening round last year.
Speaking of the Eagles, they are one of two common opponents Elm Creek and SMC have. SMC lost to Overton 42-0 in the season opener while the Buffaloes beat the Eagles 26-13 on October 5th. The other common opponent the two have is Maxwell. Both squads beat the Wildcats with Elm Creek winning 45-28 on September 7th, and SMC pulling out an 18-12 victory on October 12th.
Of course basing things off something like that doesn't always mean everything, but its a good way to gauge the two teams.
Should be an interesting battle tonight. We'll see if Elm Creek can put together the complete performance they've been looking for all season. You can listen to the game on 93.1 the River. Kickoff's set for 6:30. Pregame starts at 6:05.
Class D-2, No. 7 Bertrand left no doubt in last Thursday's 50-7 win at Eustis-Farnam, finishing the regular season undefeated.
After a scoreless first quarter, Quarterback Ryan Dahlgren dashed 54 yards to the house to give the Vikings an 8-0 second quarter lead. The advantage was increased to 16 after Dahlgren broke his second touchdown run of the period, this one a 56-yarder. He called his own number a third time before half's end, rumbling 62 yards to make it 22-0 at the break.
In the third quarter, Dahlgren picked up right where he left off, running in a touchdown from 15 yards out to increase the Bertrand lead to 30-0. Later on, Nick High got into the scoring column when he dashed 41 yards for a TD, making it a 38-0 ball game heading into the fourth quarter.
Jordan Wetovick accounted for Eustis-Farnam's only touchdown, breaking a 57-yard run to start the fourth quarter scoring. Bertrand's Connor Liljestrand added two late touchdowns for good measure, breaking runs of 66 yards.
As a team, Bertrand (8-0) rushed for 484 yards and had 519 yards of total offense. The Vikings held the Knights to 164 yards on the ground and 232 total.
The win marked the fifth time this season Bertrand has scored at least 50 points. They haven't scored fewer than 42 in any game.
But despite a dominant regular season, the Vikings drew the #6 seed on the western side of the Class D-2 playoff bracket. Bertrand's first round opponent is #11 Amherst, who has lost three of their last four games.
The Broncos (5-3) started 4-0, but their biggest win during that stretch was over 3-5 Brady, who failed to make the playoffs. As a matter of fact, none of Amherst's five victories came over playoff qualifying teams.
With that in mind, I expect Bertrand to roll tonight. They haven't had a close game all season and I don't see this one being any different. Amherst only beat Eustis-Farnam 26-24 if that tells you anything.
The Vikings have to be playing with a bit of a chip on their shoulder right now as I'm sure they feel they deserve a much higher seed.
But you play the hand your dealt with, and I'm sure Head coach Brent Streeter is telling his team that's all they can do. In the end, it comes down to how you perform as a unit and how you go about handling your business.
Bertrand is without question a very hungry team right now though. The Vikings made a deep playoff run last year, advancing to the D-2 quarterfinals before losing to Loomis. However, I think that game left a pretty sour taste in the Vikings' mouths, and I doubt they've forgotten it.
So with that said, I expect Bertrand to be very fired up tonight, especially since their playing in front of the home crowd. Kickoff is set for 6:00 in Bertrand.
Gothenburg kept things close for a while against Class C-1, No. 6 Kearney Catholic at home last Thursday, but ultimately could not stay with the Stars, falling 31-0.
When you combine Gothenburg's offense, who struggles to score at times, and Kearney Catholic's defense, which is one of the best in C-1, you have a total mismatch. And that's what last week's game was in many ways as the Stars posted their fifth shutout of the season.
Gothenburg has nothing to hang their heads over though. They were going up against a great team and gave it their all.
But its a good thing the Swedes' didn't have to rely on beating the Stars to get into the playoffs. Gothenburg (4-4) all but clinched their 11th consecutive postseason berth by defeating Ord.
So guess who the 13th seeded Swedes drew? 4th seeded Cozad. Their heated rivals down highway 30 who knocked them off 42-7 in the regular season at home on September 28th.
Gothenburg had Cozad right where they wanted them early on in the game as it was 0-0 after one quarter. But things got away from the Swedes as the Haymakers scored two quick touchdowns early in the second quarter, and then added a couple more in the 3rd to put things out of reach.
Not helping the Gothenburg cause was only 66 yards rushing from running back Logan Sheets. The Swedes gave up 253 on the ground to Jake Paulsen.
I attribute those statistics to less than stellar line play. Gothenburg had just 215 yards of total offense compared to 461 for Cozad.
But I know the Swedes are much better up front than what they showed on September 28th. There have been times this year where Gothenburg has dominated the line of scrimmage, and they are capable of doing it again.
Ultimately, I think that's the only way they beat Cozad tonight. Gothenburg has to be the aggressor in the trenches, and take it to the Haymakers.
I look for Gothenburg to try and shorten up the game like they usually do. Expect them to run clock, attempt to stay ahead of the sticks, and move the ball in 4-5 yard chunks if they can. Of course having success with this style of football is dependent on not turning the ball over and avoiding penalties. If the Swedes put the ball on the ground and/or get flagged often, its going to be very difficult for them to continue to play this way, in my opinion.
Gothenburg's defense will dictate the pace of their offense though. If the Swedes can consistently get stops then the offense can take their time in sustaining drives. But if the defense allows big plays and the Swedes find themselves in a deep hole, like last time, the offense will be forced to throw, which is playing right into the Haymakers' hands.
This is a gigantic game and I don't think Gothenburg would have it any other way in the playoffs. Taking on your rival with the opportunity to exact revenge after getting trounced in the regular season. It doesn't get any bigger than this.
The Swedes are certainly no stranger to winning in the postseason. In fact they haven't lost in the first round since 2007. Gothenburg's upset win over Ogallala in the second round last year is a prime example that anything can happen.
So we'll see what the Swedes have in store for us tonight. I think if the game goes down to the wire, and is a decided by a play or two, they pull off the upset. But if its in the two touchdown range, I give the Haymakers the edge.
You can listen to the game on AM 880 KRVN with pregame beginning at 6:35.
Cozad capped off an impressive 6-2 regular season with a 34-7 home win over Ogallala Friday night.
In a game moved from Thursday due to the wind, it was the Haymakers who took the wind out of the Indians' sails as Ogallala got a heavy dose of Jake Paulsen and Colin Wetovick.
The running backs traded first half touchdowns as Wetovick got Cozad on the board first with a 10-yard scamper to put the Haymakers up 7-0 with 5:32 left in the opening quarter.
In the second period, it was Paulsen's turn as he ran in a touchdown from 13 yards out to make it 14-0 Haymakers with 8:23 left to go until halftime. Just over four minutes later, at the 4:12 mark, Wetovick added his second rushing touchdown, this one a 79-yarder to give Cozad a 21-0 halftime advantage.
Paulsen ran in two more touchdowns in the third quarter, darting in from 8 yards out with 8:14 remaining to propel Cozad to a 28-0 lead. His second score of the quarter, a 75-yard dash less than two minutes later, all but put the game out of reach.
Paulsen ran for a team-high 199 yards on 17 carries, including three touchdowns. Wetovick racked up 144 yards on 7 attempts, and scored twice.
The Haymakers totaled 516 yards of offense, 488 of them rushing. Cozad gave up 312 yards of total offense to Ogallala, but the most important stat of the night was the number of points they allowed: 7.
The Haymakers pitched a shutout for nearly three-and-a-half quarters.
But Head coach Ron Bubak says there's still room for improvement on the defensive side of the ball, although the offense was nearly unstoppable. "We played well offensively throughout the game. We never had to punt and with the exception of our two lost fumbles in the fourth quarter moved the ball very well. Defensively I thought we stepped up when we needed and made a couple stops inside our 10 yard line. We still need to be more physical and not let our opponents control the ball and the clock as much as we did in this game. We gave up too many yards and our front six on defense can still improve. We also had way too many penalties, especially on defense which kept Ogallala's drives alive. We must be more disciplined on the defensive side going into the playoffs. Overall we will take the win and I am happy with the regular season record of 6-2. Our schedule was very strong and I thought our players played well throughout the season."
The Haymakers played 5 teams with winning records, including Class C-1, No. 1 Adams Central, and No. 6 Kearney Catholic, who handed Cozad their two losses.
Cozad hopes playing a difficult schedule will pay off tonight at home in the first round of the playoffs against Gothenburg. The 4th seeded Haymakers beat the 13th seeded Swedes 42-7 in the regular season.
Bubak says his players feel good about their chances of winning tonight, but must understand the Swedes won't go down without a fight. "Our athletes are confident but we must guard against becoming over confident. We will get Gothenburg's BEST SHOT. They have absolutely nothing to lose and everything to gain. They have the revenge factor on their side. We have to prepare as we always do and be mentally and physically able to play. How well we play defensively will be a key."
In the first meeting, Cozad held Gothenburg to 215 yards of total offense. The Haymakers kept Swedes' running back Logan Sheets in check, limiting him to just 66 yards.
On the other side of the ball, Cozad exploded as they racked up 461 yards of total offense and scored the game's first 28 points. Paulsen had a huge night, running for 253 yards.
I suspect Cozad will look for Paulsen to carry the load tonight like he has all season. He's ran for 1,281 yards and 19 touchdowns this year.
With that in mind, you know Gothenburg head coach Craig Haake will have a game plan to try and slow him down.
So does Cozad switch up anything offensively? Bubak says for the most part, no. "We are who we are by this time of the season. We have some different sets and plays prepared since the last time we played them but we are not going to change into a different team or do things that we don’t do. We can only play like Cozad plays."
Cozad plays through Jake Paulsen and will go as far as he will take them.
There's so much on the line in this game. It goes beyond advancing to the next round. Sure that's very important, but this is also for bragging rights. The loser will have to hear about it for the next year at least.
There is no doubt these two teams will get after each other for four quarters. Gothenburg wants to grind things out, and would prefer a low scoring affair. Cozad, on the other hand, wants to score quickly and often, and force the Swedes to play catch up, something their offense isn't really built to do.
In the regular season, it took the Haymakers over a quarter to get things going offensively, but once they got rolling, the Swedes had no answer.
Whether or not things will pan out that way again, I don't know. Its going to depend on Cozad's play up front, in my opinion. If the Haymakers control the line of scrimmage just like last time, it could be another blowout. But if they don't then things could get interesting.
Bubak says his team will have to be physically and mentally tough to take down the Swedes for a second time, but it will be a great feeling if they do. "As well as Gothenburg plays and as well coached as Gothenburg is beating them twice in the same season takes discipline and effort. So we would be very happy to get another win over Gothenburg. Moreover a win over Gothenburg means we advance to the second round of the playoffs which would be a BIG step for our program."
If Cozad wins it will mark the first time since 2007 that they've got past the opening round. The Haymakers and Swedes also met in the first round of the 2005 playoffs, with Cozad winning 30-0. So history is definitely on Cozad's side based on that.
As for my prediction, I am picking the Haymakers to win. I just think they have too much talent and have what it takes to get to the next round after being one and done last year. I think it will be closer than the first time though. I'll say Cozad 28 Gothenburg 14.
After losing to Southwest in last year's regular season finale, a game that ruined Elwood's playoff hopes, the Pirates did enough throughout the regular season this year to get in.
I wasn't sure if Elwood would make it after they lost 46-0 at Anselmo-Merna last Thursday, but the playoff gods were on the Pirates' side as they earned the #15 seed in the western bracket of Class D-2.
Their opponent? #2 Shelton. The Bulldogs are 7-1, and have blown out everyone with the exception of Kenesaw, who handed them their only loss.
Shelton has scored at least 62 points in six of their wins, and has gone over 70 four times. The only instance in which the Bulldogs failed to reach 60 was when they put up 52 on Lawrence-Nelson.
When you compare that to Elwood's defense, who has given up 40+ in each of their 4 losses, its certainly not a good sign for the Pirates.
But as the old saying goes, "That's why they play the game." Its playoff time and Elwood (4-4) is glad to be in the postseason again after a three-year absence.
Overton snapped their three-game losing streak and gave themselves some much needed momentum heading into the Class D-1 playoffs with a 64-30 rout of Alma on the road last Thursday.
The Eagles got off to a fantastic start as they held a 20-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Overton's offense maintained their pace in the second quarter, scoring 22 points to build a 42-12 halftime advantage.
The third quarter did not go as well as Overton would of liked with Alma outscoring them 12-6. But I would say the Eagles made up for it in the fourth by winning the quarter 16-6.
Hayden Cahoy led Overton (5-3) with 149 yards rushing on 21 carries, including two touchdowns. Quarterback Matt Aten pounded the rock 15 times for 119 yards and punched it in the end zone on 4 separate occasions. Justin Hodgson was the third Eagles' rusher to surpass the century mark with 106 yards on 20 attempts. He found pay dirt twice.
The Eagles compiled 362 yards of offense, all on the ground. Overton gave up 278 yards to Alma, 210 of them rushing.
The Eagles had almost twice the number of first downs (14) as the Cardinals (8). Overton also baited Alma quarterback Brady Stuhmer into throwing 5 interceptions.
Overton is the 10 seed in the western half of the D-1 bracket, and Loup City is 7, which means the game is at Loup City.
Class D-1, No. 9 Arapahoe capped off one of the best, if not the best regular seasons in school history with a 67-12 road romp of Southwest on Friday the 12th.
The Warriors were up to their usual tricks, scoring 41 first quarter points compared to only 6 for the Roughriders.
And as if the lead wasn't big enough already, Arapahoe added 18 points for good measure in the second quarter to go up 59-12 at halftime.
Arapahoe's final 8 points came in the fourth.
Anthony Shimmin led the Warriors in rushing with 94 yards on 12 carries. Brennan Koller ran the ball 9 times for 76 yards.
Quarterback Caden Weverka was as efficient as you could be passing the ball, going 8-8 for 193 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions.
Isaac Watson was the team's leading receiver with three catches for 92 yards. All went for touchdowns.
Lane Barker recorded a team-high 9 tackles. Zack Kerner had 8.
Arapahoe (8-0) racked up 471 yards of total offense, including 273 on the ground.
A picture perfect regular season is something Arapahoe players, coaches, parents, and fans will never forget...but the Warriors aren't where they want to be just yet.
Arapahoe heads into tomorrow's Class D-1 playoffs as the #5 seed in the west bracket. The Warriors are paired up with #12 South Loup, who went 3-5 this season.
But don't let the Bobcats' record fool you as six of their eight opponents are in the playoffs and have records of 5-3 or better. And that is why Arapahoe head coach Dustin Sealey tells you the Warriors can't overlook them. "Absolutely not. It is playoff time, I don't think its wise to take any team lightly."
The Bobcats also battled through some injuries this year, and that hurt them against teams like Burwell.
But for Arapahoe it still comes down to execution and playing hard nosed football. Sealey says there's not much to change as far as defense goes, but offensively the Warriors will adjust to whatever South Loup throws at them. "Defensively we just have to stick to our game plan- playing sound physical team defense. Offensively we will do what we need to in order to win the game. Of course we like to do what we do best, but if we have to use some variations we will do so. It will take a complete game, in all three phases. I forgot to mention that they are pretty lethal on special teams as well. We must be disciplined and exceptional tacklers."
Arapahoe's at their best when Weverka's able to torch opponents with his legs. Teams have found it difficult to slow him down this season and I'm sure South Loup is very aware of what he can do.
I'm interested to see how this one turns out. I think Arapahoe is the real deal. South Loup has definitely had the tougher schedule, but the Warriors were the more consistent team in the regular season. You knew what to expect each and every week.
Arapahoe has made the playoffs 11 straight years now, but has only been out of the first round once since making the quarterfinals three years in a row from 03-05.
This year's team is different though, in my opinion. The Warriors seem primed and ready for a deep playoff run, and I got them going far. It all starts at home tomorrow against the Bobcats.
In a battle of two teams ranked in the Top 10 in Class A, No. 3 Kearney upended previously 6th ranked Lincoln North Star, 36-21, at Foster Field last Friday night.
The first half was a seesaw battle back and forth as Lincoln North Star struck first on an 11-yard TD run to go up 7-0.
But the Bearcats would answer as McNitt fired a 27-yard touchdown pass to Hunter King to tie the game at 7 apiece.
Kearney went up 10-7 on a 25-yard field goal before the Navigators responded with a 23-yard rushing touchdown to take a 14-10 lead.
Kearney pulled back in front, 16-14, after McNitt tossed a 9-yard TD to Kaden Bruggeman.
Lincoln North Star regained the lead at 21-16 after scoring a touchdown on a 1-yard run right before halftime.
But in the second half, the tide turned as Kearney outscored North Star 20-0. Head coach Brandon Cool says the Bearcats stepped things up on both sides of the ball. "We tackled a lot better in the second half. We hit a couple of big plays in the 3rd quarter for touchdowns. After gaining a two score lead, we worked the clock with our run game."
Quarterback Luke McNitt gave Kearney the lead for good in the third quarter with a 1-yard TD run, set up by a 79-yard scamper from King. Running back Caleb Lundgren dashed 60 yards for another touchdown that extended the Bearcats' advantage to 8 points at 29-21.
Later in the half, McNitt salted the game away with a 2-yard touchdown on the ground.
McNitt led the Kearney rushing attack, running for a game-high 168 yards on 29 carries. He was 9-12 through the air for 106 yards, accounting for four total touchdowns.
Lundgren ran for 78 yards on nine attempts and King went for 96 yards on two carries.
Kearney rolled up 447 yards of total offense, including 341 on the ground, while giving up 338 total yards to Lincoln North Star.
With the win, Kearney (7-1) clinched the A-5 district title. The Bearcats go for win number 8 at North Platte tonight.
The Bulldogs are just 2-6 this season, their wins coming over Fremont and Lincoln High, two of Class A's weaker teams.
I don't see Kearney having much trouble with North Platte. McNitt has been great all season and I look for him to turn in another fine performance, both running and passing the ball.
He won't shy away from throwing the pigskin down field to King or one of his other receivers if they're open, but isn't afraid to pull the ball down and run if he doesn't like what he sees.
Kearney's defense has to play the way it did in the second half against North Star. The Bearcats have held six of their eight opponents to 20 points or less and I think they'll make it seven out of nine tonight.
It appears that Kearney will be the #2 seed in the Class A playoffs and host Omaha Central, based on the latest projection. But nothing is official yet as things could change after tonight's action. Look for official pairings to come out sometime on Saturday possibly.