For the second straight week, Boone Central’s state playoff game came down to an onside kick.
In the opening round of the 2021 Nebraska Class C1 state football playoffs, leading visiting Wayne by a touchdown, Boone cleanly recovered a Blue Devil onside attempt to seal its 42-35 victory.
Friday at Columbus, trying to hold off a furious Cardinal rally, host Lakeview duplicated that, controlling Boone’s kick and running out the clock for a 23-20 victory.
After a sluggish start that saw Boone Central fall in a 16-0 halftime hole, Cardinal adjustments began to take effect in the final two quarters. Boone struck three times through the airways while limiting the production of Lakeview’s offense.
The Cardinals got close, but not over the hump.
The tough loss concluded an outstanding 9-2 rebound season for Boone Central.
“Disappointing end to a great season. The kids battled hard and I thought the second half showed the difference between Boone Central football and most programs,” Cardinal Coach Mark Hudson said. “There is no quit and they stuck together and played really well as a team. Those things may seem simple, but are uncommon and something to be proud of.”
The first half Friday belonged completely to Lakeview. The Vikings physically controlled the contest, parlaying two punishing touchdown drives and a safety into a 16 point lead.
Resilient Boone Central jolted the hosts with a touchdown on the first play of the second half, fell behind 23-6 when Lakeview answered one final time, then pushed the Vikings to the limit with a pair of Braden Benes to Carsten Bird touchdown passes. In the end, the Cardinals, with all the late momentum, simply ran out of time to completely overcome the first half doldrums.
“Lakeview just did a great job of controlling the momentum, field position and clock in the first half. They established an edge in the lines early and limited our offensive possessions. They played keepaway, and once we figured out our plan B and what they were giving us, we just missed a few opportunities and then ran out of time.”
Hudson also talked about just how close the margin between success and failure can be.
“Usually a coach will say once you get to the semifinals, ‘anybody has a shot at winning it,’” he commented. “This was a remarkable year, as seven of the eight quarterfinal teams could have realistically won the championship.
“For us, we always talk about it being ‘a game of inches’ and having 11 guys fighting for those inches each play will add up to make a difference at the end of the game. That was literally the difference in many of our close wins this year.
“On the other side, the punt ruled out at the three-inch line rather than over the pylon demonstrates how one play results in two to nine points, or how the ball bouncing one way or the other can determine so much in football.”
Despite the gut-wrenching disappointment, Hudson said he will remember this season fondly.
“Just amazingly fortunate to have gotten such a great run with this senior class. Where they have come from their sophomore year – 2-7 and we may not have been as good as that record even – to now is special,” he commented. “Not every class would have ‘bought in’ like they did after a disappointing 3-4 season last year.
“We did more, they did more, and it paid off.”
Further details and stats in Print & Online editions of Albion News/Boone County Tribune