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December 12, 2013

Ekart Wins Class B Behrens Award

It was one of the more unexpected showings of support in the 2013 football preseason. Panhandle coaches were certain Sidney, which had finished 2012 1-8, would be the local Class B district champion.

Turns out those guys knew what they were talking about.

Led by head coach Todd Ekart the Red Raiders blossomed into a top ten team, winning their first three games, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time since 1994 and winning a postseason game before losing to unbeaten, No. 1-ranked Gretna by seven points, at Gretna. Sidney finished the season 7-4 and ranked No. 6 in Class B.

For his work, Ekart has been named Huskerland's Class B winner of the Behrens Coaching Award, which is named current Omaha Roncalli head coach Mike Behrens, who while he didn't win a state title still led an undermanned team into the 2003 Class B state finals, one of the great coaching jobs of all-time.

"Our team had a great deal of unselfishness, our line play was good, we had some good skill kids and we executed," says Ekart, reviewing his team's performance. "In fact, our O-line was overlooked to a degree because of how good our skill players were."

As for the turnaround from 2012, Coach Ekart says there is no magic formula. "It starts with the commitment by the kids to the program and being one of the smallest Class B schools we aren't blessed with a lot of depth so we rely on our work ethic to get us by.

"The player really bought into what we are trying to do and it became a much more player-driven team and not so much coach-driven. Leaders started to emerge and it helped our team meet its goals," says Coach Ekart.

Many of Sidney's seniors were playing as sophomores but several others waited for their turn to contribute this season and came up big. "All of those kids knew their roles and they set a tremendous example for our younger kids," says Coach Ekart. "They'd been through some low times and I am glad to see they were able to see the benefits of their hard work."

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