The scoreboard was still lit up behind Wilber-Clatonia football coach Lynn Jurgens and he looked like he’d been through a season in one night.
HOME: 41. GUEST: 34.
But, Jurgens’ Wolverines had something Central City coach Troy Huebert didn’t at the end: Connor O’Toole. The senior proved nearly unstoppable for the Bison defense as he carried 40 times for 281 yards and scored the game-winner with 4:40 left.
The coach just shook his head.
“He’s just a tremendous football player,” Jurgens said. “We have to have the football in his hands.”
So, he got it in a game that turned into a bit of an unexpected shootout given that W-C hadn’t given up more than 12 points all season. But, their defense was best with the game on the line, getting stops on Central City’s last four possessions including a stop that was just short on fourth down with 2 ½ minutes left in the game.
It allowed the Wolverines to turn a 34-27 deficit into a win that has them in the semifinals for the first time in school history.
“We just fought and fought and fought,” O’Toole said, a gaping tear in the one on his No. 10 jersey. “We are happy to get this win, we are very blessed. My lineman, I owe it all to them.”
Jubilation for the Wolverines ended the best season in Central City since the late 1980s and saw quarterback Mitch Carlson finish 24-for-36 for 343 yards and three touchdowns — two to Taylor Beck.
“This senior class is unbelievable,” CC coach Troy Huebert told the Grand Island Independent. “They’ve got a lot of great kids in that class. They’re so much fun to be a part of because they do things right on and off the field. They’re great leaders, and that’s the biggest thing. They set the tone as far as leadership.”
Yutan coach Tom Krajicek was coaching the Chieftain junior varsity four seasons ago when today’s seniors were freshmen. He made them a promise.
“They are my first class to come all the way through,” the coach said after his team lost to top-ranked Hastings St. Cecilia in the quarterfinal 27-12 at Duncan Field. “I told them when they were freshman that when you are seniors, we are going to win a playoff game. They stuck to it and believed in it.
“They did a hell of a job setting the standard for our other guys. They have lived in the weight room. We aren’t going to be able replace those guys.
But a foundation is firmly in place for Yutan to build on their success of 2015. The big C-2 team — they had 43 players, and every single one was in a huddle during timeouts — only had six seniors.
— No more kick’s on the final play in Elkhorn anymore. A year after losing to Elkhorn 27-24 in the first round of the Class B playoffs last year, York had the same result this year. The top-ranked Storm kicked a 22-yard field goal as time expired to end the Dukes season at 9-2. In the game, the Dukes played without three starters because of illness and lost receiver JJ Schultz and tight end Garrett Snodgrass to injury.
— The top-side of the B semifinals will feature a rematch of Aurora and McCook from earlier in the season that the Huskies won 26-7. But, this time the Bison will have quarterback Caleb Sheets back after he missed six games with a broken jaw suffered in McCook’s opening game.
— Omaha North might be 6-5, but the two-time defending champions won their 10th straight playoff game to set up a rematch of their first week classic with Millard West that the top-ranked Wildcats won 21-19. The other A semifinal will feature another rematch with Bellevue West and Millard North that the T-Birds won 35-28 on October 9th.