Wildcats fall to the Thunderbirds

Bellevue West hands Millard West first loss of the season


Tenley Wright

Players listen to a coaches advice before heading back out onto the field.

Noah Walls, Staff Reporter

In the third round of the NSAA State football playoffs, the number one seeded Millard West took on undefeated number four seed Bellevue West. This game had been hyped up all season. The Thunderbirds and the Wildcats were the last remaining unbeaten teams in Class A. All year, it had been Bellevue West ranked number one and Millard West ranked number two. Now, after three months of waiting, the fans got what they wanted: the game of the year.

Over the offseason senior quarterback Nate Glantz transferred from Millard West to Bellevue West looking for more playing time on the T-birds roster. Glantz ended up winning the starting position for Bellevue West and he led them to a remarkable season. The Thunderbirds went 9-0 in the regular season and beat Lincoln East and Burke with a point margin of 90-0 to face Millard West in the semi-finals. Millard West had to go through Lincoln Pius X and Elkhorn South to get to the semi-finals. The winner of this game would advance to the State Championship game against the Westside Warriors.

The first quarter started off slow for both teams until 4:35 left in the first quarter when senior running back Jay Ducker gave Bellevue West the lead 7-0 over the Wildcats. The Thunderbirds had all the momentum and got the ball back quickly before the first quarter ended.

Nate Glantz marched his offense all the way down the field and got inside the red zone in the beginning of the second quarter. Another handoff to Ducker up the middle resulted in another score for the Thunderbirds. Bellevue West would overcome a miscue, bobbling the snap on the extra point, but picking it up and carrying it in for two. The score was now 15-0 and the Wildcats had to answer before half. With 5:22 senior quarterback Tristan Gomes kept it for himself up the middle and Millard West got their first touchdown on the scoreboard. Another defensive stop had the Wildcats in position to score once again with 2:14 left in the half. Millard West couldn’t punch it into the endzone, but sophomore kicker Jaxon Neumann made a 27-yard field goal before the end of the first half which had the score at 15-10, Thunderbirds ahead.

After multiple defensive and offensive adjustments from both teams, they came out looking ready to play. On the first play of the second half Ducker had an 80-yard run for Bellevue West, the score was now 22-10 and the Thunderbirds were slowly extending their lead. The Wildcats punched back immediately with 9:37 left in the third quarter. Gomes ran for his second touchdown of the game, but the extra point was missed and the Wildcats were down by six. Both teams had drives where they didn’t score but Millard West ended up with the ball with 3:12 left in the third. Gomes connected to senior Wide Receiver Dalys Beanum for a 30-yard touchdown reception to put the Wildcats ahead 23-22. Glantz and the Bell West offense had a quick turn around and scored with 2:00 left in the third quarter. The fourth quarter started with a score of 29-23, T-birds were leading.

Both teams knew their season was on the line and it could all be over after this quarter. Multiple defensive stops would lead to a scoreless fourth quarter until 1:35 left in the game. Bellevue West scored again and went up by 14. A miracle would have to happen for the Wildcats to win this game, but they didn’t give up. Gomes connected with senior wide receiver Kaedyn Odermann for a 37-yard reception in the endzone. Down by 7 with 0:40 seconds to go the Wildcats had to try an onside kick. After what looked like a great bounce for Millard West, Bellevue West recovered the kick and the game would end with a score of 37-30. Bellevue West advanced on to the state championship game against Westside on Tuesday, November 26th at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Neb. An unforgettable season for the Wildcats ended short, but they hope to come back next year to capture a state title.