Boone Central/Newman Grove left no doubt Tuesday as to which team should wear the 2014 crown in Nebraska Class C1 football.
Coach Arnie Johnson capped his 27-year career with a second state title in his final game.
Senior Wyatt Mazour had fans in attendance – and those watching on television – buzzing with a performance for the ages.
The Cardinals stamped themselves undefeated champions with a 54-14 statement over previously unbeaten and #2-ranked Ashland-Greenwood at Lincoln’s Memorial Stadium.
With familiar chants of Go Big Red resounding in the Home of the Huskers, Boone Central/Newman Grove (13-0) dominated from start to finish. Only oone other team in C1 history, Geneva (57, 1990), scored more points in a championship game. Only one other school, Battle Creek (41, 1986), had a larger winning margin than BC/NG’s 40 points.
While it was certainly a team effort, with efficient offense, suffocating defense, and game-changing special teams play, the highlight reel belonged to #20.
Mazour amassed nearly 500 all-purpose yards and had a hand in six of Boone Central/Newman Grove’s eight touchdowns. A nightmare for opposing coaches these past two seasons, Mazour surely cost Ashland-Greenwood Coach Ryan Thompson a few future sleepless nights.
“He runs left, right, forward and backward at the same speed,” Thompson told reporters following Tuesday’s contest. “He puts pressure on a team all by himself.”
The Cardinals and Mazour made sure they took advantage of a stiff breeze that picked up shortly prior to kickoff in the first quarter. After stopping A-G on the initial possession of the game, BC/NG took possession of a short punt at the Bluejay’s 46 and needed just five plays to hit paydirt. Mazour’s 35-yard gallop carried to the 12 and, two plays later, he passed eight yards to Zac Glidden for the TD.
Cardinal Brent Janzen then recovered an Ashland-Greenwood fumble and Mazour pulled off some more magic, scrambling right and lofting a perfect 19-yard strike to Travis Kennedy for a second touchdown.
The Bluejays fought back with a nine-play touchdown march to cut the lead to 13-7, but A-G momentum was short-lived. Following a short kick, Mazour took off on first down and weaved through defenders 65 for his first rushing touchdown. Scott Ketteler connected with Keaton Henry for a two-point conversion and 21-7 advantage.
Mazour’s 35-yard TD sprint with 9:35 remaining in the second quarter boosted the lead further and Joe Brugger scored from nine yards out 1:07 before intermission to make it 34-7 at halftime.
Mazour had two uncharacteristic turnovers – a fumble and interception – to open the second half and Trevor Nicholson’s five-yard touchdown again gave some life to the Bluejays.
Shortly after, Mazour sapped that life away, gathering in an A-G punt, eluding several tacklers, finding a wall of teammates and using a last block by Brugger perfectly to complete a stunning 83-yard touchdown.
From there, it was simply a matter of what the final score would be.
Quite a performance. Quite a way to send Johnson into retirement.
“Maybe I should reconsider,” Johnson joked to reporters in the aftermath. “No, it was a great win for us. It was fun, and I’m glad for the kids. Their dream was to do this, and they got it done.
“Not a lot of people get to do that in life, and they got it done.”
Further details & stats in next week’s Print & Online editions of Albion News