High Plains Tyson Fate (#5) flies through the air toward the end zone against East Butler. Add a cape and he's good to go with the Superman routine.
*(photo courtesy of Journal-Star)
2nd Round Playoff, Friday Night Prep Football Heroes - Part I
by Bobby Mills (1000 Yard Guy)
Isn't the Holy Season great? This is the time of year that most teams who advance to this stage of the playoffs need new faces to step up for starters that are banged up from the rigors of a 9 or 10 game season. It's part of the game, friends. Losses to key players can be critical to an 6 or 8-Man team, whose rosters are often times small in numbers anyway.
Just like last week, new Wednesday or Friday Night Heroes stepped up to give their football team the needed spark that allows them to live to play another day. Conversely, others were not as fortunate and had to pack the pads away for another year.........some for a lifetime.
Through it all though, the memories are sweet and last for a lifetime.
*Tyson Fate - High Plains Community - Coming through in the clutch may be the understatement of the season when comes to Tyson Fate. Normally a running back/wide receiver on offense, the 5-9, 155 pound senior was thrust into quarterback slot last week against East Butler when starter Thomas Young went down with an ankle injury. It was early in the second quarter with High Plains leading 20-14. 8th year head coach Greg Wood did what most experienced football coaches would do......have Fate hand the ball off to their stud RB, with no fancy stuff.
That worked on the next possession for High Plains. Fate simply handed off to newly discovered running star, Josh DeMers. The 210 pound DeMers bolted 16 yards, then took Fate's next handoff and sprinted 24 yards for the score. Nothing to it. Same deal next possession, worked like a charm. Ditto for the beginning of the 3rd quarter where DeMers 46 yard TD run gave the Storm a 44-20 bulge.
Things didn't change much defensively for the Storm, who continued to shut down Skyler Ratkovec and the high powered Tiger offense. But on offense, it was a different story.
DeMers gets his left shoulder banged up and now Fate really had to take over. Your defense doing well or not, 8-Man football teams just do not sit on a lead at this stage of the playoffs. So what does Tyson Fate do? He takes the reins, rushes 23 times for 225 yards and scores 3 touchdowns. His scoring runs of 8, 42, and 37 yards enabled the Storm to not miss a beat and win the 2nd Round D-1 playoff game going away, 68-22. Nothing to it.
Coach Wood hopes to have both QB, Thomas Young and RB, Josh DeMers back for Tuesday's quarterfinal home game with unbeaten Creighton. If not, you can bet Tyson Fate will be ready to take over once again. That's just the way they do things at High Plains, a team that features players from Polk, Hordville, and Clarks, blending together to form a sterling football and basketball
powerhouse most years.
*Caleb Sheets - McCook - 6-2, 200 senior quarterback returned to his duties 3 weeks ago after suffering a broken jaw during the Bisons season opening 28-12 win over Alliance. The mere presence of Sheets expands McCook's playbook tremendously and Plattsmouth found that out Friday night. Even though Sheets completed only 3 of 8 passes for 68 yards, it was his ability to drive McCook downfield twenty five seconds before halftime to give the Bison a 14-6 lead over the Blue Devils. McCook would go on to win the game, 26-6.
Yes, the Bison have a run first offense, but with an experienced quarterback like Caleb Sheets, who passed for 1,102 yards a year ago, Head Coach Jeff Gross and his staff have a complete football team that remains just a win away from scoring a trip to Lincoln and the spot in the Class B finals.
*Austin Ahern-Falls City Sacred Heart - 5-9, 220 junior fullback came through when the Irish need him in Sacred Heart's come from behind victory over upset minded Randolph. Ahern, who has battled an ankle injury for a while, was forced to carry the load when starting I-Back Sean Arnold was knocked out of the game with an injury during the first half. Veteran super coach Doug Goltz moved Christian Harring to I-Back and the bulk of the carries were shifted to the burly Ahern.
Austin responded with 145 yards on 23 carries and 3 TDs. Ahern, who already had a 10 yard scoring run in the 2nd quarter, added a 3rd quarter touchdown run of 4 yards, then bolted 32 yards for an insurance TD in the money quarter.
Yet another success story of a player rising to the surface to give their team that critical boost in crunch time. You have to remember that Austin Ahern had not experienced a ton of playing time since that mid-season ankle injury. Falls City Sacred Heart now advances to the D-2 quarterfinals and will travel to Humphrey St. Francis in a 3:00 matchup on Tuesday. I will be there for the first of two highly anticipated Holy Season games in that "Magic Circle" around Highway 92.
*Jake "The Boss" Bos-Columbus Scotus - The 200 pound All-State star was everywhere in the Shamrocks 36-7 playoff win over Ashland-Greenwood. The Boss linebacker not only made life miserable for All-State Ashland-Greenwood running back Trevor Nichelson, but ripped off 202 yards on just 13 carries on that Scotus offense, scoring touchdowns on runs of 7, 67, and 9 yards in the quarterfinal win. Jake nearly broke a 96 yard TD run in the 1st half and had it not been for Ashland-Greenwood's talented defense, The Boss would have notched another long distance score.
For the year, Bos has 697 yards rushing from his FB position with 11 TDs. Jake has also made 61 stops from his linebacker slot on defense, including 7 against Ashland-Greenwood. Scotus will host one of the Class C-1 semifinal games Friday when unbeaten Wilber-Clatonia comes to Pawnee Park.
*Victory Sikes-Burwell - The Longhorn quarterback lived up to his name and lifted Burwell to a nerve racking 43-40 playoff win over Blue Hill last Wednesday. Burwell, who has lost 2nd round playoff game the past 4 seasons, (last 3 to Elm Creek), finally got the monkey off it's back, thanks to two 4th quarter drives engineered by Sikes. In fact, the 4 year starter may have had the finest game of his career against Blue Hill.
The Bobcats had just taken a 40-35 lead with 2:52 remaining in the do-or-die game. The 6-2, 180 pound senior Sikes took control, driving his team 65 yards in 8 plays for the game winning score. Sikes went 3 for 3 through the air for 45 yards on that critical drive and scored the final TD on a 1 yard run. The amazing Sikes ended the dream night with 23 of 35 passes completed for 350 yards and a touchdown. Victory also scored 4 rushing touchdowns (1,1,7, 1 Runs) and intercepted a Jacob Van Boening pass for a 20 yard Pick-6 in the first quarter.
Burwell will get a rematch with undefeated Amherst in the D-1 quarterfinals Tuesday when the Longhorns meet the Broncos on the road. Kickoff is slated for 5:00 in Amherst. The Broncos won the regular season meeting, 34-21 in the regular season finale.
*Jaydn Kowalski-Bellevue West - What happens when you allow a quarterback who averages 19 passes a game, launch it 38 times? The answer is 27 of 38 passes for 406 yards and 5 touchdowns. Never mind the 2 interceptions, that merely brings Jaydn Kowalski's season total to Four. When you factor in 43 touchdowns to "balance" out that 4 interceptions, no harm done. That's the kind of night Jaydn Kowalski had in the Thunderbirds 40-7 playoff win over Norfolk last Friday. Yes, Bellevue West had 5 turnovers against the Panthers after committing only 3 the past 10 games, but probably no cause for concern.
Those Norfolk game statistics put Kowalski at 2,950 passing yards for the season to go along with those 43 TD tosses. Jaydn is still nailing his targets at a 68.6% rate this fall. The star quarterback and Bellevue West break new ground Friday when they face a rematch with Millard North in the Class A semifinals. The Thunderbirds have never played in a semifinal football game. Bellevue West has qualified for the post season 16 times since 1995, and every year since 2003. They have advanced past round one only 3 times, and have been one and done the past half a dozen seasons. The T-Birds are out to change that, I'm thinking.
*Brayden Olson-St. Edward - 5-8, 150 pound junior scored 5 touchdowns in the Beavers 45-20 win over Hyannis. Olson rushed 16 times for 142 yards and scored on a 68 yard kick return, 9 yard run, 40 TD pass from Jonah Micek, plus 1, and 41 yard runs in the 6-Man semifinal game in Hyannis. St. Edward, who jumped out to a 33-0 halftime lead, recorded their 2nd victory of the year over Longhorns. Teammate Keenan Rasmussen also recorded 13 solo tackles in the semifinal win.
The Hyannis victory vaults St. Edward into the 6-Man Championship Game next Friday night at the University Nebraska-Kearney's Ron and Carol Cope Stadium at Foster Field. Game time is 7:00 and the Beavers get a rematch against defending 6-Man king Riverside High School (Spalding High/North Loup/Scotia).
*Kohlton Bingham and Moses Bryant-Elkhorn South - Moses set 'em up with one big play, and Bingham booted the game winning field goal in a 10-7 Class B quarterfinal against a top notch York team. Bryant, who became only the second 11-Man freshman in history to rush for over a 1000 yards a season ago, caught a short flare pass from Braden Wright at the 39 yard line and maneuvered his way through the York traffic, all the way to the Dukes 9 yard line. A few plays later with the ball at the York 5 yard line and 2 seconds remaining in someone's season, Kohlton Bingham entered the fray, stepped up and kicked the game winning 22 yard field goal. Bingham, who is a 6-2, 180 pound senior, has also made 54 tackles this season from his free safety slot. Throw in 4 interceptions, 2 fumble recoveries, 56 of 60 PATS, 7 field goals, and 16 touchbacks on kickoffs, you have a pretty skilled football player here that does just a bit more than kick field goals.
Bryant, who missed the last game and part of the regular season finale vs. Gretna, is rarin to go. Moses rushing total for the year now stands at 981. This young man just has to hit that 1000 yard mark all 4 years.
*Millard North Defense - Held Omaha Central to 92 total yards in the Mustang's 37-0 quarterfinal win Friday. The Mustang pass defense held the Eagles to 2 of 15 passing for 22 yards, while limiting the very efficient Central rushing game to 70 yards. Jack Begley led the Mustang defensive onslaught with 7 tackles. Brody Buck added 6. The Mustangs get a rematch shot with Bellevue West Friday. The Thunderbirds took the regular season meeting 35-28. Millard North is the only team this year to hold Bellevue West under 42 points and the 7 point margin of victory is certainly the closest anyone has come to the high scoring Thunderbirds.
*Zack Martin, Andy Kirkman and Blake Kester-Clearwater-Orchard - Quarterback Martin hooked up with TE/WR Kirkman, and RB/WR Kester for the heroics on the final Cyclone drive of the game against unbeaten Perkins County. Things looked bleak for Clearwater-Orchard when Perkins County mounted a 28-8 midway through the 2nd quarter. The Plainsmen took a 36-22 lead into halftime and maintained that lead after 3 quarters. Zack Martin then scored on a 9 yard run, then completed a pass to Kester for the double PAT to pull within 36-30.
The Clearwater-Orchard defense then stuffed a Plainsmen drive at their own 15 and took over for one last shot with 2:20 left in the game. The Cyclones drove 65 yards in 12 plays and scored when Zack Martin found the 6'8" Andy Kirkman for a 7 yard touchdown pass completion. Martin once again nailed Blake Kester, this time for the game winning 2 point conversion.
Kirkman, twice an All-State Basketball selection, was also in on 18 tackles in the contest. The 6'8" phenom now has 116 tackles for the year, 16 of those for losses. Andy also has 19.5 sacks and 6 recovered fumbles for the year.The tall, powerful Kirkman has also hauled in 47 passes, good for 745 yards and 9 TDs.
Clearwater-Orchard will travel to Elgin/Pope John Tuesday for a rematch with the Wolfpack, who competed in the same D-7 District with the Cyclones. Elgin/Pope John won the 1st go-around, 36-14 on September 24th behind the 164 yard rushing output of Andrew Fangman. Game time Tuesday is 7:00 in Elgin.
*Jacey Nutter and Riggin Anderson-Sandhills-Thedford - Nutter, a 195 pound junior quarterback, completed 7 of 13 passes for 143 yards and 3 touchdowns to 3 different receivers in the Knights 62-27 win over high scoring Maxwell last Wednesday. Anderson, only sophomore, ran for 142 yards on just 10 touches and chalked up 3 more scores. Riggin's TD runs covered 58, 21, and 33 yards. He also caught a 30 yard scoring pass from Nutter for a 4th TD. Nutter's other scoring tosses went to Austin Coffman (39 yards) and Cade Pokorny (30 yards). Both Coffman and Coffman are juniors. Beginning to sense this is a young football team?
The Maxwell game was close at 14-13 before Jacey Nutter and company reeled off 48 straight points to make it 62-13. Sandhills-Thedford now advances to Tuesday's quarterfinals with a trip to Oshkosh, b'gosh, to face Garden County in a
3:00 MST kick off. Garden County is unbeaten.
***1000 Yard Rusher Alert***
*Connor O'Toole-Wilber-Clatonia - Wolverine dual threat quarterback played the dual QB/RB role as good as it gets in a 41-34 nail biting victory over Central City in one of the C-1 quarterfinal games Friday. With it's fullback suspended for the big game, Wilber-Clatonia head coach leaned on the multi-talented O'Toole and his huge offensive line to get it done against a terrific Central City squad.
O'Toole, who carried a tiring 43 times, ripped the Bison defense for 287 yards three touchdowns. The 6-2, 210 senior also fired a 42 yard TD pass to classmate Matt Petracek in the win. Oh yes, Connor also made 13 tackles to aid the Wolverine defensive cause. The huge running game boosts O'Toole's 2015 rushing total to 1,064 yards and 13 TDs. He also has 598 yards passing and another 8 scores for the season. Wilber-Clatonia meets Columbus Scotus in the C-1 semifinals Friday at 7:00 for the right to play for all marbles at Memorial Stadium Tuesday, November 24th at 10:45 AM.
***Fans of The Year Award***
*Ashland-Greenwood - I have not witnessed a group of fans from any city in this state that had more class and manners than that of Ashland-Greenwood. I originally observed this in a playoff game in Grand Island a year ago when the Bluejays met GICC. It has surfaced all year on various forms of social media and I witnessed it again Friday evening in Columbus. You notice those things on the sidelines when you have a chance to not only see, but hear what is transpiring behind you.
High compliments and props to the loyal fan base that follows those Bluejay student athletes wherever they compete. Your behavior is a model of what sportsmanship in high school athletics is all about.
All of you.........Take a deep bow.