Oh, those darn rematches.
One of the tougher things to do in football – and in many sports – is defeat a team twice if the two opponents are anywhere close to evenly matched.
Sure, if it’s a true mismatch to begin with, a team might beat another 10 out of 10 times. But, if talent is fairly comparable, the original winner usually doesn’t want anything to do with repeating its feat.
Boone Central, in its brief history, has had some major history with rematches. What Cardinal fan has forgotten the state championship revenge on Pierce in 2001 – or the reverse in 2004’s state title tilt with Norfolk Catholic?
And, of course, Husker fans (at least those old enough) still vividly remember Nebraska finally knocking off Barry Switzer’s #1 Oklahoma Sooners on a dramatic November afternoon in Lincoln, only to have the Boomers deliver payback in a bizarre Orange Bowl redo.
At first glance, it appeared Boone Central might have gotten a favorable playoff draw after upending C1 #5 Broken Bow. After all, St. Paul, a first-round upset winner over Minden, was just 4-4 in the regular season, finished behind BC in the C1-8 district and lost to the Cardinals in the second week of October (24-15).
Ah, but that’s why rematches are rarely at the top of a winning coach’s wish list.
The Wildcats tried to throw the ball around the yard in that first meeting and squandered several opportunities in the contest with what might be termed “questionable decisions”. St. Paul also struggled to contain a BC air attack that racked up 190 yards in that game.
However, having faced the Cardinals, plus seeing film of Boone Central “passing Broken Bow silly” in the opening playoff round, St. Paul adjusted and took full advantage of last week’s do-over.
Possessing a pretty substantial size advantage, the Wildcats bulled for 228 yards on the ground in the rematch and passed just nine times (12 fewer than previously). They also turned loose a ferocious pass rush in an attempt to keep Card QB Tanner Mazour from finding a rhythm.
Of course, BC’s aerial game wasn’t helped by the biting north wind either. St. Paul gladly accepted the assist from Mother Nature – not uncommon in Nebraska Novembers.
Boone Central still had its own opportunities Wednesday and was very close to victory and yet another rematch vs. Mid-State rival Pierce. This time, however, it was the Cards who couldn’t cash in.
Deterred by one controversial penalty (actually called on St.Paul – see the accompanying game article), BC also failed to take advantage of terrific field position provided by Wildcat fumbles late in the contest.
Disappointing indeed. But certainly nothing to detract from a fairly remarkable Cardinal campaign.
Who, at the beginning of the season would have picked a team with four returning starters, 36 freshmen and sophomores, just nine seniors and featuring lineman weighing 155, 152 and 140 pounds to be in this position in the first place?
Congratulations Cardinals! Great Season. You did us proud once again.