Wildcats beat the Bearcats

Wildcats use second half comeback to remain unbeaten


photo by Tenley Wright

Senior Brock Wyman and his teammates celebrate a defensive stop. After going down 13-0, the Wildcat defense allowed just 50 yards.

Carson Fox, Staff Reporter

The Millard West Wildcats faced off against the Kearney Bearcats at Buell Stadium in one of the biggest top ten battles. The Wildcats came into this game ranked second in the state, with Kearney being clocked in at ninth in the state. Kearney’s lone loss coming in was at the hands of Grand Island in a 32-31 defeat in week one.

Millard West has arguably the best defense in the state and that defense is what led them to the 23-13 victory. The Wildcats struggled early, but the 13 points allowed in the first half was all that Kearney would muster against the Wildcat defense. Though it was a top ten fight, the Wildcats would be without star receiver Kaedyn Odermann, due to sickness.

Kearney was off to a hot streak in the first quarter, scoring just three minutes into the game on a 43 yard touchdown pass from senior Colin Murray to senior Owen Lightle. West couldn’t get anything going early on, through the ground or through the air.

Going into the second quarter, Kearney was sitting pretty at the Wildcat two, ready to add onto their lead. They converted, pushing senior running back Miko Maessner across the goal line two minutes into the second quarter. The Wildcats found themselves in a spot they hadn’t been in all year: a two possession deficit.

That would change fast.

Senior Tristan Gomes connected with senior Dalys Beanum on a 19 yard pass to cut the lead in half. The Wildcats had a pulse. Just a few minutes later, the Wildcats would drive down the field. A touchdown and an extra point could give West a halftime lead. They were stuffed. Kearney made a huge goal line stand at the end of the first half, holding their 13-7 halftime lead.

“It’s the first time we’ve been down at half all season,” junior Josh Churchill said. “It kind of sparked us up at halftime knowing we didn’t play our best football.”

In the third quarter, the Wildcat defense gave the Bearcats nothing, getting the offense back on the field time after time. Finally, the Wildcats would capitalize again. A grueling 86 yard drive led by Gomes was capped off with a touchdown. Millard West had finally claimed their first lead.

The Wildcats made another huge defensive stand, getting their offense the ball back late in the third. The offense would make it into field goal range, setting up sophomore Jackson Neumann for a 34 yard kick. He drilled it to extend West’s lead to 17-13.

The defense would continue its domination into the fourth, giving the Bearcats offense nothing to work with. After they took their 13-0 lead, the Cats defense would hold them to 50 total yards.

Late in the game, senior Ethan Valencia would punch in the dagger: an eight yard rushing touchdown to cap off a dominant defensive performance.

The Wildcats took their first halftime deficit, and responded with fire.

“We hadn’t faced that type of adversity yet this season,” Beanum said after going down two possesions early. “We never panicked and just made our adjustments. We responded just as good as a team possibly can.”

The Wildcats remained at number two in the Class A rankings, with Kearney remaining at nine despite the loss. The Wildcats final true road test of the season is next up when they go on the road to face seventh ranked Grand Island.

The Wildcats hope to finish the road schedule with a huge statement win and send a message to teams they will face in the playoffs.