Going out on top

Millard West football is victorious in final game of season


Photo by Miguel Paredes Reyes

Senior Chase Hultman rushes the ball late in the game. Hultman had a very solid game, totaling three touchdowns and 196 rushing yards on 25 carries. “I would like to think we have had success running the ball all year,” assistant coach William Sadowski said. “Coach Pete has done a good job calling plays and the offensive line has put forth work.”

Joseph Ebmeier, Staff Reporter

The Millard West Varsity Football team hoped to end a rather disappointing season on a high note as they made the 45 minute drive to Lincoln Northeast High School to take on the Rockets. Although neither of these teams have had super impressive seasons, both were hoping to go out on top and give their seniors a final game to remember.

The game started with Wildcat senior Enrique Meraz kicking off to the Rockets. The Rockets gained five yards on first down but were unable to get anything after that, and Millard West forced a three and out. On the Wildcats opening drive, they picked up one first down thanks to a solid passing attack. However, on their second set of downs an incomplete pass on fourth down forced them off the field. The Millard West defense kept Northeast in check yet again as the Rockets were able to manage one first down before punting the ball back to the Wildcats again.

The punt return of 22 yards kickstarted the Wildcat offense and the first two plays of the drive went for a combined 50 yards. With the ball on the Northeast 12 yard line, the Wildcats were in prime position to put the first points on the board. It took a few more plays than the Wildcats would’ve hoped, but eventually senior Chase Hultman punched the ball through for a two yard touchdown run. After the Meraz extra point, Millard West had a 7-0 lead.

The second quarter began with the ball in the hands of the Rockets. Again they were only able to manage one first down before the Wildcat defense forced them off the field. The punt defense for Northeast broke down yet again as junior Brady Brau returned the punt 71 yards, setting the Wildcats up at the Rockets 25 yard line. On the first play of the drive sophomore quarterback Brody Peterson rushed for 11 yards to the 14 yard line. However, the drive stalled and Millard West was forced to settle for a field goal which Meraz made to give them a 10-0 lead.

“I was able to be perfect on extra points because I practice them every day,” Meraz said. “I do at least 25 extra points every day during practice. It felt good to hit the field goal because it gave us more points and I was also able to help the team.”

On Northeast’s ensuing drive, they once again only picked up one first down before the Wildcat defense forced them off the field. Brau continued to have strong punt returns and gained 18 yards on the return. On the first play of the drive, Hultman broke through for a 27 yard rush and 15 yards were added after a defensive penalty. Peterson then threw a 22 yard pass which set up a Hultman three yard touchdown run. After the Meraz extra point sailed through the uprights, Millard West had a 17-0 lead. The Rockets came onto the field already down by three possessions and needed to put something on the board, but the Wildcat defense came up huge as junior Reid Hazen intercepted a pass and gave the ball back to the offense. As the Millard West offense came back onto the field they had a chance to extend their lead even further, but the Rocket defense intercepted a pass of their own as the half came to a close.

“The players did a nice job limiting big plays in the first half,” assistant coach Seth White said. “The defensive line really controlled the line of scrimmage which led to much of the success the defense had during the game.”

Northeast began the third quarter by kicking off to Millard West. The Wildcats were set up well after a strong kick return by senior Nolan Harris. But on the first play from scrimmage, Peterson threw another interception and gave the ball back to the Rockets. Northeast started their drive with two short runs before quarterback Landon Hoff connected with wide receiver Trevor Vocasek for a 62 yard touchdown, narrowing the Wildcats lead to 17-7. Millard West came back onto the field and picked up two first downs before Peterson was picked off for a third time. 

“Brody’s interceptions are on me,” quarterback coach William Sadowski said. “I didn’t do a good enough job preparing him. There were coachable moments and he will be better moving forward, but his performance is the reflection of his position coach, and that’s me.”

Northeast could not capitalize on the pick, and they ended up punting back to the Wildcats. Millard West also could not get much going as they attempted a deep field goal that missed. The Rockets came back onto the field, and after two runs totaling zero yards, an errant throw picked off by the Wildcats set them up well. Just three plays after Millard West came back onto the field, Hultman found the endzone for a third time, and after the extra point the Wildcats led 24-7. After the kickoff back to Northeast the drive went completely downhill as they ended up punting on a 4th and 32, and the ball ended in the hands of Millard West.

The Wildcats had a long drive to start the fourth quarter and held the ball for over three minutes. Unfortunately, nothing came of it as they ended up going for it on a long fourth down and came up short. With the ball back in the hands of the Rockets they had a chance to get back in the game, but once again the Millard West defense came up big as senior Beau Young intercepted another Hoff pass. When the Wildcats ran back onto the field, there was a different look in the back field. 

Instead of Hultman doing the running back duties, junior Korey Cozad began to take the carries. He carried Millard West down the field and all the way into the endzone, stretching the lead to 31-7. The Rockets trotted back onto the field already down big and hoping just to get something up on the board. The opposite happened though as they quickly got to fourth and long and were unable to convert, turning the ball back over to the Wildcats. Two plays after the Millard West offense came back on the field junior Creyton Schram found the endzone, extending the Wildcats blow out to 38-7, as the clock neared zeros. After the kickoff, two short run plays and an incomplete pass ended both the game and the Wildcat’s season.

Although Millard West failed to qualify for the playoffs this year, the seniors and rest of the team went out on top in the final game of the season. The Wildcats finished with a record of 3-6 and will hope to improve before next year.