LINCOLN – Kam Lenhart was a standout wrestler in high school, so he knows what it takes to escape trouble.
But there was no escaping an ice-cold celebratory water bath Tuesday night at Memorial Stadium. The Bennington head football coach walked right into it when he turned around to his team during the final seconds of the Badgers’ dominant 38-14 win against Omaha Gross.
Another Bennington splash.
Bennington dominated last year. Badgers dominate again.
38-14 over Gross to win Class B again. #nebpreps pic.twitter.com/EIIaQCpJCm
— Clark Grell (@ClarkGrell37) November 23, 2022
The Badgers left Memorial Stadium just like they did last year – as Class B state champions. They extended their win streak to 26 games, living up to the team motto, “Together We Win.”
“Selflessness,” Lenhart said of Bennington’s two-season title run. “These guys truly don’t care who gets the glory as long as we’re playing together and we win together.”
The Badgers have stars. Trey Bird is one of the state’s top quarterbacks. Lenhart’s star continues to rise, as well.
Since taking over as head coach in 2020, Lenhart is 34-2 in three seasons. He joined the Bennington coaching staff in 2019 as offensive coordinator and saw a program ready to catch fire.
“I knew when I got here – I was an assistant to Coach (Greg) Bohn – that good things were happening,” Lenhart said. “But the buy-in just from then to now has been tremendous, and that’s what Coach Bohn started with the rest of the staff before I even got here.”
After leading his own program at Fairbury, Lenhart arrived at Bennington as an assistant coach. It didn’t take long – one year – for the Central City graduate to be promoted to head coach. But make no mistake, Lenhart learned a lot in his one season working under Coach Bohn.
“That’s probably the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said. “I got to see it from a different perspective.”
Before Bennington, Lenhart showed he had the chops to elevate a program. That’s what happened at Fairbury where he tutored quarterback Adam Wasserman, who went on to have a strong prep career.
In 2019, Lenhart was tasked with coaching the freshman team – this year’s senior class and a group that includes Bird.
“He just really pushes us in practice,” Bird said. “He motivates us.”
The talent was in place. Still, Lenhart and his staff had to find a way to make it all work while scheming for some of Class B’s giants like Omaha Skutt and Elkhorn.
Now Bennington is a giant. The secret?
“I think he just makes it feel like a family,” senior defensive end Weston Heinemann said. “Practices are so fun and they never get boring. There’s never a dull moment. We’re always talking, we’re always giving 100 percent effort and it just pays off in the long run.”
Memorial Stadium is home
On Monday, we saw one potential future Husker take a liking to Memorial Stadium when Omaha Westside kicker Tristan Alvano kicked five field goals. Then next time he kicks, he may be a Husker.
On Tuesday, Benjamin Brahmer got cozy at his future home. The Pierce senior caught 11 passes for an 11-man playoff-record 249 yards in the Bluejays’ 42-14 win against top-rated Aurora in the C-1 final.
Every time Abram Scholting threw the ball to Brahmer, the big tight end caught it. He was targeted 11 times and finished with three touchdowns.
A game to remember for Brahmer????
He breaks the Class C1 Playoff single-game record with 249 yards receiving on the day with 11 receptions and 3 touchdowns! pic.twitter.com/f5IPlldxu5
— Nebraska Public Media (@NebPublicMedia) November 22, 2022
Needless to say, his father and head coach Mark was very proud.
“I love my Benny boy and we’ve been throwing and catching passes for a long time,” said an emotional Coach Brahmer.
Brahmer finished the season with 80 catches for 1,523 yards and 21 touchdowns. He brought it every game, catching at least three passes in each game.
Find you a coach that believes in his players and is all the way in on his program/school.
Also, it’s pretty evident he loves his son.
Pierce’s Mark Brahmer with some emotional @pinnbank postgame comments. pic.twitter.com/5JSLUpEoNq
— Mike Sautter (@MikeSautter_) November 23, 2022
Year of the QB
How about the quarterback play at Memorial Stadium this year?
Gretna’s Zane Flores and Omaha Westside’s Anthony Rezac put on a show in the Class A final. Bennington’s Trey Bird can throw a really pretty ball, and Pierce’s Scholting deserves a shoutout.
Coach Brahmer took it further after the Class C-1 final, saying he thinks Sscholting is the best quarterback in the state.
Safe to say, we saw four of the state’s top five or six QBs over two days in Lincoln.
Numbers that pop
1-4: Bennington’s playoff record from 2010-19.
8-0: Bennington’s playoff record since then.
47-4: Pierce’s seniors finished 47-4 in four seasons, a stretch that included state titles in 2020 and 2022 and a state runner-up finishes in 2019 and 2021.
96: Bennington held Omaha Gross to 96 rushing yards in the Class B final. The Cougars entered with one of the state’s top rushing attacks.
26-0: Bennington’s Bird never lost a game as a starting QB, finishing 26-0.
10: State championships for Norfolk Catholic’s Jeff Bellar. His team beat Hartington Cedar Catholic 23-0 in Tuesday’s Class C-2 final.