#16 underdogs deliver surprising blow to #1 Patriots

Ally Seevers, Sports Editor

At 7 pm on Oct. 29, the Patriots were 9-0, the number one team in all of Nebraska, on the road to bring home their first state championship title in 12 years. Three hours later, the Pats were 9-1, ending their season with a loss to the #16 seed Omaha North, 49-42. 

Going into the playoffs, Millard South was undefeated, something they hadn’t done since 2009, when Millard South beat out Millard West, 45-17, in the championship game at Memorial Stadium.

“It felt good,” senior Justin Gassaway said, “especially to see all of our regular season work pay off, going 9-0 was pretty cool.” 

Having a perfect record was no easy task. Early in the season, the Patriots destroyed #5 ranked Elkhorn South, 33-7, showing dominance early. 

The following week, Millard South proved they own ‘Q,’ beating the kitty-cats 46 to 7. With touchdowns from all over, including sophomore Nolan Feller, the Patriots displayed a certain depth like no other, giving hope for years to come. 

In the week after that, the Patriots took on the then, top-ranked Bellevue West in Bellevue. With a touchdown early in the first quarter by senior Christian Nash, the Pats put themselves on the board first. 

The Thunderbirds answered back, tying the score at 7-7, then at 21-21. But with two more touchdowns for Nash, and a huge interception by senior Jake Gassaway, the Patriots put themselves on top, 42 to 21, ultimately limiting the now #2 team to 28 points to our 42. 

“It felt amazing, beating Bell West,” junior Bryson Zimmerman said. “One of the best feelings this year was to beat our best opponent.”

With this commanding of a win, Millard South was now the number one team in the state. 

The Patriots continued their campaign, beating Omaha North, Lincoln Pius X, and Fremont.

Even when starting quarterback, senior Gage Stenger, was benched with an injury, junior Cam Kozeal stepped up in his place, passing 7 touchdowns and running in 3, bringing home the perfect regular season record. 

“TJ Urban and Gage have taught me so much about quarterback and it’s made me a lot better player,” Kozeal said. “When you’re stepping in for the best player in the state many things are expected from you, but you have to be a leader and perform to the best of your ability.”

While the Patriots were unable to make it past the round of 16, losing a heartbreaker to Omaha North, a team they previously beat earlier, this season will be one to remember.

In the game against Omaha Burke, Christian Nash had over 200 rushing yards, averaging 122.2 rushing yards per game. 

“I was so happy when Kintzle annouced I had rushed over 200 yards,” Nash said. “Rushing for 200 yards was always a top goal during the season because I cam close twice before.”

Junior Simon McClannan was also named the #1 kicker in the state, #3 in the nation.

With that, this team has incredible depth and talent. They’ll be back next year, ready to finally take what is rightfully theirs.