Wildcats fall to the Patriots

Millard West plays their rival in a long awaited game


Miguel Paredes Reyes

The Wildcats were able to maintain a close game before halftime. Their goal coming out of the locker rooms was to start fast and stop the patriots opportunities. “I thought we tried to make a few adjustments at half, but obviously it did not work,” assistant coach William Sadowski said. “Every week we try to get better. Every day we try to get better. That is the goal.”

Garrett Wilcoxen, Staff Reporter

On Friday, Sept. 10, the Millard West Varsity Football team took on the Millard South Patriots. These teams have had an ongoing rivalry, and both teams had a lot of fans make an appearance. Millard South won the previous year, but two years ago the Wildcats walked out with the win.

The game started off fast with the Wildcats receiving the ball first. Senior running back Nathan Pederson was able to get Millard West a first down, but after several one yard rushes and a pass for a loss of one yard, the Wildcats had no choice but to punt. With the ball in the hands of the Patriots, senior quarterback Gage Stenger was able to make two first down passes for a total of 22 yards on their first two plays. After a timeout, Millard South found room and rushed the ball for 30 yards across three plays for a touchdown. After the kickoff, the Wildcats started what would ultimately be a six minute long drive. This ended the quarter and was filled with many short runs by Pederson.

“Our goal is to take advantage of our opponents’ weaknesses,” assistant coach William Sadowski said. “The offense did try a few new things, specifically a new counter play. Each week the coaches prepare based on our opposition, and our goal is not how you start, but how you finish.”

The second quarter began with the Wildcats with a 3rd down and 16. This drive was shortly ended after a Millard West penalty forced them to punt. Although the Wildcats defense slipped up the previous drive, they were able to maintain a dominance throughout their next drive, making the Patriots punt. This momentum didn’t stay alive for the Millard West offense, as they also punted the ball back without getting a first down.

The fourth drive of this quarter is where speed really started to pick up. Senior running back Christian Nash for the Patriots rushed for 36 yards and then Stenger threw a touchdown pass to junior Grant Renken. On the following kickoff, Wildcat sophomore Jackson Williams returned the ball 99 yards for the first Millard West touchdown. Shortly after this, South got the ball back and with no hesitation kept the ball moving. Stenger was able to rush 13 yards for a touchdown nearing the end of the quarter. With not a lot of time left, the Wildcats decided to kneel and talk their game plan over in the locker rooms.

“At halftime our goal was to keep pushing, keep getting turnovers, to get the ball more,” junior Barrett VanDeun said. “We talked about how we needed to improve our preparation and how we needed to be more focused and get our heads in the game.”

The second half started out with the Patriots in possession of the ball. Millard South came out fast once again, and Nash really pushed for forward progress on each play. On a fourth and 21, the Patriots decided to kick a field goal and put another three points on the board. This made the score 25-7. On the Wildcats next drive they weren’t able to make anything happen, and when the ball was given back to Millard South they had a long pass, resulting in another Patriots touchdown. Stenger threw 57 yards to junior Brock Murtaugh to change the score to 32-7. The rest of the quarter was quiet, but with about one minute left, Patriot sophomore Nolan Feller ran 45 yards for a touchdown.

“Obviously it was a big game to us, but it wasn’t a district game,” senior wide receiver Trace Thaden said. “We have to keep pushing and keep getting in reps so we can be ready for next week’s game against Kearney. Our goal is to not let this keep us down. We need to go out fast and attack them first. We can’t let them come for us.”

The game entered the fourth quarter with a score of 39-7. After the Wildcats failed to get a first down, the ball was given to the Patriots for the last time in the game. After several short runs and first downs, Stenger hit senior Jake Gassaway for a 35 yard passing touchdown. This ultimately ended the game, as the Wildcats had a long drive with many short progressions where they did not score.

The game ended with a score of 46-7 Patriots. Although the Wildcats lost this one, they are preparing hard for next week’s game against Kearney on Friday, Sept. 17 at Buell Stadium.