Spartans devastate the Wildcats

Millard West loses its third straight game in a heartbreaker


Photo by Tenley Wright

Sophomore quarterback Brady Brau evades defenders on a run. Friday night was his first start on varsity, and he threw for 25 yards while rushing for 63 yards. “I loved watching Brady Brau step up at the quarterback position,” senior linebacker Will Ekborg said. “He kept his cool the entire game and really looked like he knew what he was doing out there.”

Jonathan Willis, Striv Executive Producer

On Friday, October 2, Millard West hosted the Lincoln East Spartans. West was 1-3 going into the game, while Lincoln East was 3-2. 

Both teams went into this game with back to back losses. The Wildcats had lost to Millard South and Creighton Prep, while Lincoln East had lost to Lincoln Southeast and Millard North in close games. 

“We came in knowing this was going to be a tough game especially without our starting quarterback,” senior linebacker Will Ekborg said. “We went in with the mindset that we have to control what we can control and do our jobs.”

Millard West received the ball first. They marched down the field on some long runs by junior running back Nathan Pederson, however, they had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by senior kicker Nasser Nabulsi. The defense played tough early in the game and got their offense possession again. The Wildcats got back into Spartan territory, but again had to kick a 38-yard field goal from Nabulsi. 

“In warmups my kicks weren’t doing so hot, so I was feeling a bit iffy,” Nabulsi said. “However, I tried to have fun and focus on each kick at a time.”

West was up 6-0 at the end of the first. However, Lincoln East quarterback Noah Walters started to get rolling in the second quarter. They marched down the field and Walters made a throw to Grey Friesen off of his back foot for a 26-yard touchdown. On the ensuing kickoff, Pederson received the Spartan kickoff and took it up the middle, bouncing to the outside for an 89-yard touchdown. With about four minutes left in the half, Lincoln East had a quick drive on a 35-yard pass and a roughing the passer call which set up Walters to run the ball into the end zone to tie the game. West then marched down the field and kicked a Nabulsi field goal to give West a 16-13 lead going into the break. 

Both defenses made big stops in the third quarter, including Millard West stopping Lincoln East on a fourth down in Wildcat territory. The only score was a late 21-yard field goal by Nabulsi to put Millard West up 19-13. 

Millard West started out the final period extremely well. The defense stopped the Spartans and Pederson had a long 87-yard touchdown run to put the Wildcats up two scores.

“After we got down, coach John Gingery just told me we’re going to go down and score,” Walters said. “It only took a first down and some positive yards to get us going.”  

Walters threw a 53-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Erickson to cut the lead. West had a lengthy drive, but missed a 36-yard field goal. Lincoln East got the ball with three minutes left and took a long drive that was capped off by an Austin Schneider rushing touchdown that put the Spartans up 26-25 with only 44 seconds left in the game. Sophomore quarterback Brady Brau attempted a couple long passes, but Luke Greisen picked off the final pass as time expired to give Lincoln East the win. 

“The coaches have been making sure we keep our heads up,” Nabulsi said. “We need to get at it in practice and eliminate mistakes. As a player, it sucks to be 1-4, but we’re worried about the end goal of getting a state championship more than our record.”

Millard West drops to 1-4 on the season, while the Spartans improve to 4-2 with a statement win. Millard West will travel to Bellevue West next week in a rematch of last year’s semifinal playoff game.