Tonight at Bearcat Stadium the Scottsbluff Bearcats have a chance to earn their way to the Class B state title game for the first time since 2000.
It’s been a perfect setup to this point for Scottsbluff as tonight will be their third straight home game in this years postseason.
The task at hand? Knocking off the defending state champion, York Dukes.
This will be the fourth meeting in the last seven years between these two teams in the playoffs, including York’s 35-20 win last year in the second round. York went on to shutout Elkhorn South in the semifinals before shutting out Omaha Skutt in the championship game.
Scottsbluff Head Coach Joe Benson says they were basically a juggernaut last year.
Over on the game field at practice on Wednesday night some of the assistant coaches for Scottsbluff reflected on that loss last year.
Scottsbluff is coming off that epic comeback win over Omaha Roncalli a week ago; remember they went from down 38-14 at halftime to winning 60-38, scoring 46 unanswered points in the second half.
The big stars offensively last week were Chris Busby (358 yds rushing and three touchdowns), Keegan Reifschneider (5 touchdown catches and a one handed interception), and Sabastian Harsh (5 touchdown passes).
York earned their trip west with a 23-20 win over Seward with a field goal in the closing moments. The Dukes are 9-2 with those losses coming to McCook and Omaha Skutt.
The big story tonight for York will be the health of Garrett Snodgrass, their starting quarterback/linebacker. Snodgrass re-aggravated an ankle injury from earlier in the season on the first play of the game last week. He only played on passing downs the rest of the way against Seward.
This Dukes squad arrives with plenty of big game experience. State title in football, boys basketball, and boys golf last season and Coach Glen Snodgrass credits much of their success to this senior class.
On offense they’ll start nine seniors, a junior, and one sophomore. Snodgrass has close to 1,000 yards rushing with 22 touchdowns and he’s thrown for over 1,600 yards with 16 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions. But again, how healthy will he be tonight? That’s the big question.
This also means we’ve got a pair of Husker commits in action tonight with Snodgrass, and of course Scottsbluff’s Garrett Nelson.
When Snodgrass throws the football his main target is 6’3 senior Brady Danielson, who might be an all class all-state receiver this season. Danielson has 47 catches for 879 yards with seven touchdowns.
A lot of people this week have been talking about a game flow that has this one at, say, 21-17 or 24-20, one of those type of games. But I think right now a serious question to ask is this; who can slow down Scottsbluff?
The Bearcats have averaged 64.5 points per game through the first two rounds against Ralston and Roncalli. Clearly this York team is a different animal and Coach Snodgrass thinks they can match up.
When talking about a key to a win tonight for Scottsbluff, if you think Joe Benson has a secret formula, well you’d be wrong. It always gets back to the simple things you would hear before a season opener or a week four game.
The winner heads to Lincoln to play in the state championship the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, November 20th.
The other Class B semifinal tonight has top seed Omaha Skutt on the road to play Waverly.
Class D6 – Minatare at Hay Springs
We’ve got another semifinal game tonight at KNEB from the six-man ranks with Minatare at Hay Springs.
This will be the second matchup of the season between these two with the Hawks winning at home over Minatare back in late September 39-0.
The Indians were banged up and Head Coach J.J. Ozuna doesn’t think there’s that wide of a gap between the two teams.
Both teams feature powerful running attacks. Gonzales and Ephroen Lovato have combined for nearly 3,000 yards rushing and a combined 57 rushing touchdowns.
The main man for Hay Springs is Trent Reed, who has over 2,000 yards rushing and 32 touchdowns.
The winner tonight advances to Kearney to play in the state championship game next Friday night.
Coverage for this one starts at 4:45 on KNEB AM 960, 100.3 FM, and kneb.com with Jeff Kelley. Kickoff is set for 5 pm.
The other semifinal tonight has Harvard taking on Wilcox-Hildreth.