Gretna Bellevue West
Gretna rallied from down 37-14 to stun Bellevue West 40-37 on Friday ( photo, Mike Sautter)

Clark’s Corner: Revisiting a wild Friday and the day’s biggest rally (it wasn’t in Gretna)


Clark’s Corner, 10/4: It was a crazy, crazy night on the gridiron in Class A. The craziness also spilled into other parts of the state.

Halloween is still about four weeks away. Right? Right?

Well, someone will have to explain all the tricks and treats we got on the Class A gridiron last week. It wasn’t just any Friday, it was Freaky Friday – about 2½ hours of fun chaos.

We saw a pair of upsets on fields outside the Metro, an incredible comeback in Gretna and an entertaining rivalry game in Lincoln.

Here’s how wild it got:

7:55 p.m. (Kearney): No. 8 Grand Island takes a 21-14 lead against No. 5 Kearney on Cole Thorne’s 12-yard touchdown just before halftime.

8:30 p.m. (North Platte): Scratching and clawing, No. 1 Omaha Westside ties its game against North Platte at 14-14 on Teddy Rezac’s TD catch with 5:40 remaining in the third quarter.

8:36 p.m. (In Kearney): Colton Marsh goes 48 yards to give GI a 28-14 lead over Kearney with 4:20 left in the third.

9:04 p.m. (North Platte): Westside takes a 17-14 lead on Tristan Alvano’s field goal with 4:40 remaining. Are the Warriors going to escape?

9:09 p.m. (North Platte): Kolten Tilford scores to give North Platte a 21-17 lead with :19 remaining. Upset complete.

9:11 p.m. (Kearney): Kearney cuts GI’s lead to 28-21 on Ben Cumpston’s 10-yard TD catch with 3:13 remaining.

9:21 p.m. (Gretna): Gio Contreras scores to give No. 7 Bellevue West a commanding 37-14 lead over the host No. 2 Dragons with 7:09 remaining.

9:23 p.m. (Gretna): Zane Flores hits Blayke Moore for a 37-yard scoring strike to cut the Bellevue West lead to 37-21 with 5:57 remaining.

9:25 p.m. (Kearney): It’s final. GI wins 28-21.

9:31 p.m. (Gretna): The Dragons strike again and pull to within 37-29 with 4:48 left.

9:47 p.m. (Gretna): Flores delivers again — a 45-yard pass to Caleb Schnell — and Gretna ties the game at 37-37 with 1:30 remaining.

9:51 p.m. (Gretna): Gretna forces a Bellevue West punt with 1:00 remaining.

9:58 p.m. (Gretna): Gretna’s Cameron Bothwell nails a 25-yard field goal with :08 remaining to stun the Thunderbirds 40-37.

10:01 p.m. (Lincoln): Lincoln Southwest converts a fourth down and then ties Lincoln Southeast at 14-14 on Cal Newell’s TD run with 1:40 remaining.

10:10 p.m. (Lincoln): Overtime.

10:24 p.m. (Lincoln): John Hohl hits a 22-yard field goal to lift the Silver Hawks to a 17-14 win.

The biggest comeback Friday …

How wild was Friday? Gretna’s rally from down 23 points wasn’t even the largest comeback of the day. That belonged to Ainsworth, which stormed back from a 36-8 second-quarter hole to stun then-Class D-2 No. 5 Elgin Public/Pope John 54-48.

Ainsworth found life with a touchdown before halftime, and then scored again immediately after the break.

“We talked situational football, and our kids understood the situation at hand each time, which was a reason why I was never really nervous throughout the whole game,” Ainsworth coach Jessi Owen said.

Still, EPPJ had Ainsworth on the ropes late. The Wolfpack pinned the Bulldogs on their own 3-yard line in the final minutes, but Ainsworth drove 77 yards for the winning score.

Here is what’s crazier. This wasn’t the first time Ainsworth rallied from down 36-8 to win a football game. When Owen was an assistant coach at the school six years ago, the Bulldogs trailed Hemingford by the same exact score. And won!

There was a lot of buzz after Friday’s game, but truth be told, the town has been amped up all season. Ainsworth (6-0), led by Swiss Army Knife Carter Nelson, is guaranteed its first winning season since 1999 and is aiming for just its fourth playoff appearance.

“The town is itching to have a good football team and the scene after the game here was incredible,” Owen said. “I think I saw some older people in town who have been along for the ride the whole way tearing up a little bit. It was incredible to see.”

Ainsworth is ranked No. 5 in this week’s coaches’ poll.

Skutt’s Engelkamp No. 1 in career wins

Congratulations to Omaha Skutt softball coach Keith Engelkamp, who reached career win No. 580 last week. A 9-7 victory against Omaha Roncalli pushed Engelkamp past former Lincoln Southwest coach Mark Watt (579) for No. 1 on the all-time wins list in high school softball.

And considering the number of great coaches roaming the ball diamonds in this state, it’s an impressive accomplishment.

Watt retired from coaching high school softball following last season. Former Elkhorn South coach Terry Graver and current Wayne coach Rob Sweatland join Engelkamp and Watt as the only coaches to have 500 wins or more.

Engelkamp, of course, would likely trade a No. 1 spot on the all-time wins list for a chance for his team to compete at state. After winning back-to-back state Class B state titles, a young SkyHawk team battled through some growing pains and finished 11-16.

Malcolm having a ball this fall

Here’s guessing there’s a lot of smiles and high-fives in the hallways these days at Malcolm High School.

The Clippers’ football team is 6-0, and has a showdown with Lincoln Lutheran this week. The volleyball program is surging at 23-2 (the only losses to No. 1 teams), and the softball team is on the verge of a return trip to the Class C state tournament.

Get to know this name: Halle Dolliver. The freshman is a heck of a basketball player, but already is making an impact on the volleyball court. She’s among the state leaders in kills.

Laurent leading Northwest surge

Sticking with softball, we’re guaranteed a new state champion in Class B, and one of the favorites is Northwest (24-3). Two of the team’s three losses are to Class A teams.

Helping anchor the Vikings’ run is senior and Pittsburg State recruit Ava Laurent, who has a strong arm and a lot of experience. Laurent struck out 29 batters over two games Monday as Northwest beat O’Neill and rival Hastings to win its subdistrict.

How low can you go?

The girls state golf tournaments are next week, and the biggest storyline will be in Class A where Lincoln Pius X’s Nicole Kolbas seeks a third straight title. Can she set another two-round record?

Kolbas won a district title Monday, but another Lincoln golfer had a more impressive round.

Lincoln Christian’s Olivia Lovegrove shot a 65 (yes, a 65!) to win the C-1 district by 19 strokes at Hidden Valley Golf Course.

Lovegrove, a junior, finished tied for fourth at last year’s state meet.

Volleyball Coaches Poll: 10.03.22

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