Minatare gains last Six-Man playoff berth: Scottsbluff, Bayard make postseason despite regular-season ending losses
     2013-10-31      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
Photo by Sheila Weber/for the Citizen - Minatare’s Yovan Perez gives the stiff arm to an Arthur opponent to gain yardage during a home game earlier this season. The Indians earned a place in the six-man state playoffs. 
Minatare football coach J.J. Ozuna and the Indians had last week off after they received a season-ending forfeit to Elba/North Loup-Scotia, which did not field a team this year.

Still, the Indians had to be prepared in case the door opened for them to make the Six-Man State Playoffs.

When the brackets were announced Saturday, Minatare had indeed earned the eighth and final berth in the playoffs. The Indians, at 3-5 the only sub-.500 team to make the Six-Man playoff bracket, will open their first playoff bid since 2009 with a trip to Harrison to play 8-0 and No. 1 seeded Sioux County.

“We’re very fortunate to have made the playoffs with our record and the season we’ve had,” said Ozuna, whose team rose from a 1-7 campaign in 2012.

“For all the guys on the team, this is their first year in the playoffs, so they’re excited over that.”

The 2 p.m. game will be a rematch of the teams’ season opener, from which the visiting Warriors left Minatare with a 58-41 victory.

“It seems like they haven’t slowed down any,” Ozuna said of the Warriors, who are coming off a 38-18 win Friday over Arcadia (6-2). “They just keep rolling and keep getting better. We’ll have our work cut out for us.”

Ozuna said he hopes the Indians’ extra week of getting mistakes worked of their own game plan will be beneficial when they take on Sioux County the second time.

“The guys are starting to gel and come together as a team,” Ozuna said. “The past few weeks, when the guys are watching film, they know what they did wrong and how they can correct it.

“They have a little bit of pep in their step. Some of the guys were getting a little beat up, so we need to keep them excited so we don’t come out flat on Friday.”

Coming off a 46-16 loss to Arcadia on Oct. 18, Minatare did not know if its season would continue. So the Indians prepared, on a lower scale, during what became an off week.

After including the forfeit victory, the Indians had enough points to make the playoffs.

“They were up early Saturday, looking at scores and the Six-Man Web site seeing if we made it,” Ozuna said. “We found out that the teams we needed to win won, and the others who lost, so it worked out.”


Bearcats lose to Sidney, make playoffs

This time, the Scottsbluff Bearcats will see if being the underdog works out better.

The Bearcats (6-3) will again play the Dukes of York (8-1) in the first round of the Class B state football playoffs at 5 p.m. on Friday.

But this time, the Dukes will be the home team and the favorite as the No. 4 seed after they whipped Aurora 33-14 on Friday.

Last year, York came to Scottsbluff as a 6-3, No. 16 seed while the Bearcats were coming off a 9-0 regular season and their third straight District B-8 championship.

The Dukes marched into Bearcat Stadium and left with a 28-9 victory, ending Scottsbluff’s bid for a perfect season and state title in just one round.

This time, Scottsbluff is coming off having its three-year reign on the District B-8 title broken in a 30-20 loss Friday night at Sidney. The Red Raiders (6-3) thus ensured their first playoff berth since 1994 with the No. 8 seed and will play host to Blair (5-4) at 4 p.m. on Friday.

The loss dropped Scottsbluff from sixth in the power ratings to No. 13 and the corresponding playoff seed.

Sidney’s potent rushing attack gained 324 yards on Scottsbluff and, after leading 8-3 at halftime, had an early fourth-quarter lead of 30-6 before the Bearcats fought back.

Quarterback Jackson Hinze completed 9 of 17 passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns, one to Matthew Mickey, the other to Denzel Salazar. Hinze also scored two field goals and two extra-point kicks.

Brad Johnston, making his return after an early season knee injury, led Scottsbluff on the ground with 98 yards on 13 carries. Ty Benson added 67 yards on 15 rushes.

Defensively, Dan Rohrer had nine solo tackles and Andrew Aratani made nine total tackles, four solo. Tristan Donelson, with seven tackles (five solo), also had a tackle for loss. Beau Lofink also had seven tackles with five solo efforts.


Bayard caught by Kimball, still makes C2 playoffs

In a District C2-10 game that seemed set up for the winner to make the Class C1 playoffs and the loser finished for the year, Bayard still came out a winner as a postseason qualifier despite losing 28-27 Friday night to Kimball.

The Longhorns (4-4, 2-1 district) outscored Bayard (3-5, 1-2 district) 14-6 in the fourth quarter after the Tigers had led 21-14 at halftime.

Bayard is the No. 15 seed in the West bracket of the C2 playoffs and has a long trip to Battle Creek (8-0) for its first-round game, which is today (Thursday) at 1 p.m. Kimball earned the No. 12 seed and travels to Blue Hill (7-1) today.

Bridgeport (6-2), the District C2-10 champion, earned the No. 8 seed and plays host today to Crofton (5-3). First-round winners will play their next games Wednesday.


Morrill falls in finale to Sutherland

The Morrill Lions fell behind Sutherland 38-0 after one quarter Thursday and never recovered, falling to the visiting Sailors 56-22.

Morrill (2-6, 0-5 district) competed with just 11 players in the District D1-10 eight-man game.

For the Lions, Colton Miller ran for 110 yards on 11 carries and caught three passes for 74 yards with one touchdown. Miller also had a fumble recovery on defense.

Victor Valles got the Lions on the board in the fourth quarter with a 2-yard touchdown run. Valles had three carries for 27 yards. Quarterback Garrett Zwiebel had 12 rushes for 77 yards with one TD and completed 6 of 9 passes for 88 yards and his touchdown toss to Miller.

Adding fumble recoveries on defense for Morrill were Ryan McMackin and Matt Hessler, who also had one rush for 6 yards.

Sutherland (5-3, 4-1 district) earned the No. 9 seed in the D1 West bracket and travels to Palmer (6-2) tonight. District champ Hemingford (8-0) drew a No. 3 seed and plays host to Franklin (3-5) today at 1 p.m.


Gordon-Rushville tops Mitchell

Mitchell never got to taste victory this season, which ended with a 35-8 loss to Gordon-Rushville in District C1-10 action Friday at Gordon.

The loss left the Tigers at 0-8 on the season, while Gordon-Rushville finished at 2-6.

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