Cozad's Jake Paulsen (#15) sparkled in the C-1 Championship game.
*(photo courtesy of Tri-City Tribune)
I can't count the number of times Jake Paulsen has typed those words to me since his Freshman year at Cozad. On the 3rd play of the Class C-1 State Championship game this afternoon at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Paulsen took a pitch, sprinted through a small opening, and dashed 66 yards for a touchdown. Now all 5,240 fans in attendance knew how good it was. Paulsen and his Haymaker buddies didn't stop there though and before it was all said and done, Cozad had won it's first state title since 1991 by defeating Ashland-Greenwood 47-21. On a sunny but bone chilling morning, the Haymakers dominated things so much that the 35 point running clock kicked in at the 9:39 mark of third quarter. The Bluejays put up a couple of late scores against the Cozad reserves to make the final score look more respectable, but make no mistake about this one, it was a dominating performance by one very good C-1 football power, the Cozad Haymakers.
These Ashland-Greenwood Bluejays earned their way into the C-1 championship game, make no mistake about that. They were only a 2 point conversion away from a perfect slate (29-28 loss to Wahoo Neumann), and featured a very balanced attack led by a 1000 yard rushing, 1000 yard passing quarterback. Ashland-Greenwood actually put together an impressive drive following Paulsen's opening 66 yard TD run. The Bluejays drove all the way to the Cozad 6 yard line before Colin Wetovick spilled QB Gunnar Garner for a 12 yard loss back to the Haymaker 18.
Cozad then took the ball and proceeded to run off an 17 play, 82 yard drive for their second score. Paulsen had a 22 yard TD run that was called back because of a hold, but QB Nate Bubak hit Colin Wetovick with a 26 yard pass that carried to the A/G 4 to end the quarter. On the next play Wetovick took it in from there to begin the 2nd stanza give Cozad a 14-0 lead.
Cozad added two more 2nd quarter scores to get the count to 28-0 at the half. The second score of the quarter came when the speedy Colin Wetovick broke through a huge hole off tackle, then outran the Bluejay defense 50 yards for a score. Nate Bubak found Jake Paulsen for a 19 yard TD pass with just a 1:03 left in the half to conclude Cozad's scoring in the 2nd quarter. On the touchdown reception, the amazing Paulsen had two A/G defenders standing between he and pay dirt at the 10 yard line. Jake "The Snake" seemed to make made two moves simaltaniously, split the defenders, then simply sprinted into the end zone as if it were a warm up drill.
Colin Wetovick pirated a Gunnar Garner pass and returned it 41 yards for a touchdown on the Bluejays opening drive of the 3rd quarter, staking Cozad to a 35-0 lead and kicking in the running clock. A one yard Alex Boryca run made it 41-0 with 5:27 in the 3rd.
Ashland-Greenwood then answered with a splendid catch and score by WR Tyler Craven. Craven's cut back TD dash was a thing of beauty as he side stepped several would be Haymakers to reach the end zone on a 51 yard TD reception.
Alex Boryca added the final Haymaker touchdown on a stand up plunge from the one yard line. A/G's two late scores against the Cozad reserves came on a Garner 18 yard pass to (who else) Tyler Craven and a 29 yard flip to Bryce Chudomelka (good polka musician-type name).
Jake Paulsen led Cozad with 198 yards on 23 carries, 187 coming in the first half. Paulsen ends the season with 2,533 yards and concludes his illustrious career with 5,596 yards. Colin Wetovick ruhsed for 71 yards on only 6 carries and had the 41 yard INT return for a score. Conor "Golden Hands" Young had 3 receptions for 64 yards and picked off two passes, giving him 7 INTs for the season.
Gunnar Garner was 17 of 44 passing for 266 yards and 3 touchdowns for the Bluejays. Garner also rushed for 34 yards on 10 carries, giving him 1,186 yards rushing and 1,668 passing yards.