Bulldogs Bite Back, Bounce Wildcats From Playoffs

Craig Sullivan, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Burke quarterback Tyler Chadwick scrambling for extra yards after being flushed out of the pocket. Chadwick finished with 185 yards passing on 27 attempts with one interception and a passing touchdown. Photo By: Cody Bennett

In an offensive thriller, No. 2 Millard West was eliminated by No. 4 Omaha Burke. The game was action-packed and there were no shortage of turnovers and big plays to go around. The Wildcats held the lead until late in the game, but fell on a late touchdown in the end, knocking them out of the playoffs.

After a quick stop by the Wildcats defense, the scoring started with a 27-yard scamper by quarterback Giavonni Guido putting seven points on the scoreboard. The Bulldogs wasted little time responding. On a long 3rd and 23, quarterback Tyler Chadwick connected with tight end Chris Hickman for a 38-yard score, tying up the score at 7-7. In the final drive in the first quarter, the Wildcats drove down deep in Bulldog territory. Guido ended up connecting with senior Austin Harris for a 22 yard touchdown on 4th down to put the Wildcats back up by 7.

That was a big decision for head coach Kirk Peterson to go for it on 4th and 5, rather than kicking a field goal.

“When you are between the 20 and the 30 it’s always kinda tough territory whether, or not to kick a field goal on a chilly night,” Peterson said. “The ball does not travel as far (when it’s cold) so we thought ‘Hey let’s roll with it, we have been throwing it well.’”

On their first possession in the second quarter, Burke came out firing on all cylinders and running back James Burks ran in a touchdown to even out the score. Millard West then responded by driving down deep into Burke territory, only to throw a pick close to the goal line. The Bulldogs would give the ball right back as Burks fumbled inside their own 30. The Wildcats wasted little time capitalizing as Guido scrambled for another West touchdown, giving them a 20-14 lead after Hickman blocked the extra point. Burke drove down to field goal range with only seconds remaining, but Jason Gutierrez missed the attempt, keeping the six point lead intact going into halftime.

Early in the game receiver Hunter Schnuerle lines up outside looking for a big play. The Wildcats would stretch the field all night, but it would not be enough to pull out the win. Photo By: Cody Bennett

On the first possession of the third quarter, the Wildcats moved the ball down the field and ended with a Guido one yard dive on 4th and goal to increase the lead to 27-14. Burke would try and quickly answer only to be stopped on 4th down because of two drops on the Wildcat’s 25-yard line. The very next drive, Guido threw a long bomb to Harris for a 75-yard touchdown. Millard West went for two and converted on a trick play where tight end Jacob Harmdierks passed to Harris.

With their backs against the wall, Burke came out with a quick 36 yard completion to receiver Xavier Watts to kick-start their drive. It concluded with Burks bouncing a run outside for a 15-yard touchdown run cutting the Wildcat lead to just 13. The Wildcats next drive ended with a Guido pick to corner back Darnel Davis. Right before the end of the quarter, Chadwick completed a pass to Hickman for a 29-yard gain to set the Bulldogs up near the 50 yard line.

Starting the fourth, the Bulldogs converted a 4th down pass to receiver Steven Elloie for 30 yards. The drive was capped off with a Burks 3-yard plunge. The Wildcats came back on offense with a 34-yard catch for running back Brody Belt to give West great field possession. The crusade stalled, ending in a 20-yard field goal by Sam Fedde to put the Wildcats up two scores 37-28. Burke countered with a long possession resulting in a 24-yard Burks run, cutting the Wildcat lead to 2 points.

The Bulldogs would try an unsuccessful onside kick. The Wildcat offense was held to a three and out, Burke had chance to put the game away. The Bulldogs marched down the field and put in another Burks score. This gave Burke their first lead with 26 seconds left, 43-37. On their final try, the Wildcats picked up some positive yardage through the air, but Hickman intercepted Guido with 13 seconds left to ice the game.

Burke really imposed their will offensively behind Burks and his 304 yards and five touchdowns. Chadwick finished with 185 yards passing on 27 attempts with one interception and a passing touchdown.

After the loss the first thing Peterson thought about were the people he has been with the longest.

“The first thing you always worry about when the season ends is the players that played for you for four years,” Peterson said. “You try to console them as much you can because they put a lot of time and effort into the season.”

One of those players is Belt. He broke Millard West’s single season rushing record this year and has fond memories of the season.

“It was a great ride and experience,” Belt said. “These people will be my friends forever.”

It was a tough loss for the Wildcats. Athletic Director Chris Loofe and some Wildcat fans there realized it was a great high school game though.

“Hated to see the game end the way it did, yet hats off to the athletes from Burke for overcoming the three score deficit,” Loofe said. “Our coaches and athletes always compete with great pride and I’m proud of how they came together as a program.”

While the Wildcats season is over, Burke advances to play Omaha North on Friday, Nov. 10th.