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October 11, 2013From the minute Ross Dwral dropped back I liked it. As he lingered in the pocket, letting the play unfold before him. The finished result, of course, was a masterpiece, and a message.
On the first snap from scrimmage in Thursday night's Class A top five battle between his Millard West team and Creighton Prep, Dwral leaned back and heaved the ball as far as he could. Waiting there on the other end was teammate Skyler Monaghan, who caught the ball and frolicked into the end zone like a young colt in an open field.
Which he sort of was.
It was a glorious start for the Wildcats, who would build a 24-7 lead before a furious fourth-quarter rally by Prep. And when I say furious, I mean furious - it took an interception by Millard West junior Ben Stodola in the final seconds of the fourth quarter to finally put this one to bed.
Prep's rally was sort of like a hospital patient waking up in a start, then running out of the room. The Junior Jays couldn't get out of their own way for most of the game and had no solution for the Dwral-to-Monaghan thing, as that tandem would hook up for another passing TD, this one just seven minutes later and from 14 yards out. Drwal would add second-quarter touchdown run, mix in a late 49-yard field goal and, voilą, you have yourself a 24-7 Millard West lead at halftime.
Great champions, great championship programs, don't go down easy, remember that. Further proof came courtesy of Easton Stick sturdy right arm, as he led the Junior Jays to a pair of quick fourth-quarter touchdowns to get Prep back to within three before the Millard West defense pour water on the campfire and called it a night.
It was an interesting test for both teams. Millard West looked all the best in the always-competitive Class A football race before Burke stepped in and beat the Wildcats. Prep had won five in a row since an opening loss to still unbeaten Omaha Westside. These are two outstanding teams, two final four type teams both who would look right at home in Memorial Stadium, even holding up The Big Trophy.
As we get to the meat to of the weekend schedule there are other big Class A games - one was played Thursday night in Lincoln - but know both these teams are as good as advertised.
* The game in Lincoln was won by surging Grand Island, 34-14 over up-and-down Lincoln North Star, giving the Islanders pretty firm control over an average A-4 district. The Islanders should cruise the rest of the way, entering the playoffs 8-1.
Grand Island's only loss was on the road to unbeaten Westside - the Warriors beat GI and Prep in back-to-back weeks back in early September - and has proven much the best in its games since, among them a solid win over Norfolk. There is nothing fancy about Grand Island football under head coach Jeff Tomlin - his team's want to come right at your, beat you up physically, controlling the line of scrimmage and mixing in a defensive game-turner or two.
That's the kind of football that will play real well in November. And, it turns out, August September and October.