Bearcat defense steps up in fourth quarter for victory


Bearcat defense lines up to stop the islander offensive attack.

“WOGI! WOGI! WOGI!” said the Kearney High Rowdies Friday night as they saw their football team defeat Grand Island for the third straight matchup. This also marks the 17th time in the last 23 games the Bearcats have been able to claim the phrase, “We own Grand Island.”

Coming into a season having to replace 20 varsity starters certainly gave the impression that Kearney would have trouble adjusting to the varsity-level competition, but with Coach Brandon Cool and his staff, that’s never the case. The team wasn’t without its problems as the Bearcats were only able to put two drives together for touchdowns and struggle to establish their signature rushing attack. What wasn’t a problem for the Bearcats was the defense who once again put up a spectacular performance against the Islanders, giving up only three second-half points.

Everything started with only 30 seconds left in the first quarter when Grand Island’s new starting quarterback Cole Evans connected with receiver Will Nordhues for a 25-yard touchdown pass to take the lead 6-0. It was two drives later that the highlight of the game, and possibly the highlight of the year, shifted the momentum towards Kearney. Senior lineman Lee Herrington deflected a pass up in the air to himself and returned it for a touchdown.

“Those are huge plays…when you get one in the lineman’s big hands. …we’re going to have to listen to that all season long.” said Coach Cool on Herrington’s game-tying touchdown.

It was only a few minutes later that Evans showed his dual-threat ability by scampering for a 26-yard touchdown run to put Grand Island ahead 13-6. After struggling for most of the first-half on offense, Kearney finally broke through. Taking advantage of the short field, the Bearcats were able to tie the game on a 5-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Kanon Koster to senior Brett Obermiller. At halftime, it was how the game began…tied.

One of the more consistent things for Kearney High football the past decade has been the coaching staff and they once proved Friday night why they are one of the best in the state. It clearly showed the second half when the Bearcats were able to move the ball more efficiently and slow down Grand Island’s balanced offense. It was then halfway through the third quarter when Koster scored from eight yards out to give Kearney their first and only lead of the game.

The Islanders were able to hit a field goal late but the Bearcat defense held strong, sacking Evans late to seal the victory 20-16.

The Bearcats will be on a short week as they travel to Lincoln to take on Lincoln East at Seacrest Field on August 31.