Joe Flanagan, Albion News
There will be a new king in Class C1 football this year.
The Boone Central/Newman Grove Cardinals assured that Norfolk Catholic’s three-year reign as C1 state champion came to an end with a 34-16 victory on a frigid Tuesday night in Albion.
It was the first-ever playoff win over Norfolk Catholic for the Cardinal program.
With junior Wyatt Mazour setting the pace, Boone Central/Newman Grove was dominant offensively in the opening half, scoring on its first three possessions of the game.
Mazour actually lined up as a wide receiver on BC/NG’s initial offensive play from scrimmage and took a pass from back-up QB Kyle Kramer for a 14-yard gain. The Cardinals kept Norfolk Catholic on its heels the remainder of the contest, as Mazour moved back to his normal QB position.
He led time-consuming marches of 12 plays, 78 yards and 14 plays, 80 yards – capping the first with an eight-yard scoring strike to Derek Gentrup and finishing the second with a two-yard TD plunge.
Norfolk Catholic also moved the ball in the first half. Trailing 6-0, the Knights threatened to tie or go ahead with a drive inside the BC/NG 10-yard line. Mazour picked off a halfback-reverse pass attempt, however, and the Cardinals were off on their 80-yard foray to lead 13-0.
Catholic again penetrated the red zone on its next possession and Gentrup made a goal line interception, racing up the far sideline with the return to near midfield.
BC/NG then left the Knights reeling, as Travis Kennedy broke free on a slant pattern, gathered in a Mazour aerial in stride and raced 55 yards for the Cardinals’ third touchdown.
That 20-0 halftime bulge disappeared quickly in the third period, as Boone Central/Newman Grove uncharacteristically turned the ball over on its first three possessions of the second half.
After returning a Card fumble to the BC/NG 10-yard line, Catholic cashed in on a one-yard Jackson Love run. A holding penalty set Boone Central/Newman Grove back on its next possession and Knight sophomore David Engelhaupt intercepted a Mazour pass, returning it seven yards for another TD. The Cards then lost a second fumble deep in their own territory, but held Catholic to a field goal to retain a 20-16 lead.
From there, BC/NG secured the ball and the outcome. Wyatt Mazour hit the Knights with a 48-yard lightning-bolt TD run for a 27-16 advantage and, after Catholic fumbled the ensuing kickoff return, concluded a final scoring drive with a 14-yard touchdown gallop.
The electrifying junior continued to pad his postseason-honor credentials Tuesday, rushing for 156 yards on 22 carries, completing 11-of-18 passes for another 160 yards and intercepting two Knight aerials.
“He’s pretty good, isn’t he,” Cardinal Coach Arnie Johnson wryly told reporters following the contest.
Johnson was quick to point out his entire squad has been responsible for Boone Central/Newman Grove’s 11-0 record to date.
“We have other kids that helped him out,” Johnson noted. “We have a team where you can’t just key on him (Mazour), because we have other people who can get things done.”
Norfolk Catholic Coach Jeff Bellar agreed.
“I think they’re awful good. I guess we’ll have to see who can beat them, if anyone can.”
Cozad, also 11-0, will get the next opportunity. The Haymakers, who defeated Gothenburg 34-9 Tuesday night, will host Boone Central/Newman Grove for a C1 semifinal clash Nov. 19 at 4 p.m.
The winner will earn a trip to Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium – and a chance to become the new king in Class C1 football.