Millard West beats down on Bryan

Wildcats take home the win on senior night


Trey Jochims

For their final home game of the season, the Millard West Wildcats (green) took on the Bryan Bears (white) in a senior night matchup. After the half, many of the younger players got more experience playing valuable snaps. “Just coaching up the younger guys and giving them pointers is big,” senior linebacker Reid Hazen said. “All you can really do (when not playing) is coach them up and try and help them out as much as you can.” Millard West will continue their five game win streak against Lincoln Southwest on Oct. 28, at Seacrest Field in Lincoln.

Logan Moseley, Broadcast editor in chief, Striv Executive Producer

On Thursday, Oct. 20, the 5-3 Millard West Wildcats took on the 3-5 Omaha Bryan Bears in their final regular season matchup of the year. It was also senior night for the Wildcats, and they picked the green on green combo for potentially their final matchup under the lights at Buell Stadium.

Millard West came into the game having already clinched a playoff spot following their comeback win over the top 10 ranked Lincoln Southwest Silverhawks 27-23, extending their four game win streak and winning their district for the first time since 2019.

Bryan, wearing all white with gold helmets, came in with a two game losing streak, falling to the Millard North Mustangs and Lincoln Southeast Knights by a combined score of 105-31. Bryan had struggled to gain any traction all season, and only won one district game against the South Sioux City Cardinals, 23-21, the same team West beat 63-0.

Millard West started with the ball first, and went on a long, 12 play, 4:34 second drive to take a 7-0 lead. It took no time for West to get the ball back, as 26 seconds later junior linebacker Kaden Struck forced a fumble on Bryan quarterback Jeremiah Gorham to set the Wildcats up at the Bears 25. Millard West continued to drain the clock, and with 4:30 left in the first quarter, junior running back Bobby Joseph took it up the right sideline, but senior linebacker Josiah Aldridge stripped it from Joseph, and took it 97 yards to the house to knot things up at seven a piece in the first quarter.

It took no time for Millard West to strike back, however, as a two minute drive led by seniors  wide receiver Seth Martin, Jagger Hopkins and  running back Peyton Strong pushed the Wildcats ahead 14-7. The first half had many seniors making a name for themselves, as Strong, Hopkins and  receiver Sean McNulty had touchdowns, along with tight end Korey Kozad and wide receiver Noah Shrader recording receptions in their final regular season game.

“Its really about doing what’s necessary to win,” Martin said. “Some games will just be about blocking downfield. For the younger guys I try and just tell them the mentality we need to have going into every week.”

Defensively, the Wildcat seniors had a rather quiet game. The most notable play in the secondary was by Carter Gress, as on a trick play in the first half fell incomplete as he had a near interception, but the team allowed just 12 receptions for 120 yards, most of which came in the second half when the younger player came in to get playing time. 

However, the run defense played incredible, as they allowed only 16 rushing yards on 26 attempts, and multiple tackles for loss. Shining on the run defense were seniors Nick Main, Hudson Meier and Reid Hazen, all creating an impenetrable wall that created problems all night.

“Our gameplan was just to stop the run and make them pass it,” Hazen said. “Our strong suit is our different coverages and stuff like that, and forcing them to throw it can get us turnovers to help us out.”

To start the second quarter, Bryan, backed up to their own 26, sent a monster 65 yard bomb of a punt, putting junior Jackson Williams at his own 35. The punt took an awkward bounce, but Williams was able to scoop it up, and in a matter of moments, joined the green turf in the endzone for another punt return touchdown, his second of the season and his third special teams touchdown of his career.

Millard West would continue to dominate, as they took a 35-7 lead at the half. Led by a strong defensive showing, the Wildcats continued their defensive shutout for the next 11 minutes and 32 seconds, but by that point the backups were in on both sides of the ball.

The final drive for Millard West took up 7:42, creating a 48-14 deficit, making it impossible for any Bryan comeback. But the Bears were not in it for the comeback, and with 4:46 left, drove down the field, and as time expired, punched in one last score to end the game, 48-20.

“Before the game I expected to come in, but I also bounced around as a wide receiver as well,” sophomore quarterback Brayden Johnson said. “There was definitely some emotion for the seniors. Going into the playoffs, probably playing their last home game at Buell, they were definitely kinda down about it but they are happy to just play football.”

Millard West improves to 6-3 on the season, and will rematch against #8 Silverhawks at Seacrest field for the first round of the state playoffs on Friday, Oct. 28.