Football season ends for Valley’s trio of playoff teams
     2013-11-07      By Terry Gaston    sports@geringcitizen.com
None of the three Valley football teams that made the postseason had their playoff dreams answered, with Scottsbluff, Bayard and Minatare all falling in their first-round games last week.

Despite seeing their respective teams’ seasons come to a first-round playoff end, the coaches offered pride and appreciation for what their players accomplished.

Scottsbluff had a 13-12 lead at York, but the host Dukes held the Bearcats scoreless in the second half and took a 26-13 victory Friday night, eliminating Scottsbluff for the second straight year in the first round of the Class B playoffs.

Scottsbluff lost a bunch of talent off its third consecutive District B-8 championship team that went 9-0 last season, only to have its season ended by upstart York 28-9.

The Bearcats showed even from their scrimmage that 2013 season would not be a rebuilding year, and all four of their losses came to other playoff-bound teams.

“It was an incredible season, one I will always remember,” said Scottsbluff coach Joe Benson, whose Bearcats finished 6-4 after their loss at York. “If we wouldn’t have shot ourselves in the foot with turnovers and penalties, we would have won that game.”

Scottsbluff lost its three-year reign as district champions with a 30-20 loss to Sidney in the final regular-season game. The Red Raiders then made good on their playoff chance, defeating Blair 36-26 and advancing to a second-round game at Elkhorn on Friday.

“I am most proud of the way they reacted and the way we played against York, coming off stubbing our toe against Sidney,” Benson said. “I am just proud of them overall, the body of work they had this season and they should be proud of their accomplishments.”

Bayard coach Randy McKibbin said the Tigers hung in with a tough Battle Creek team Thursday despite falling to the Braves 61-14 in the first round of the Class C2 playoffs.

Two fourth-quarter touchdowns spoke to the Tigers’ tight-knit pride, he said.

“There is a reason they were 8-0,” McKibbin said of Battle Creek, which earned the No. 2 seed in the Class C2 West bracket while Bayard was No. 15. “We played pretty well for a half.

“This is definitely one of the closer-knit groups I’ve ever had,” McKibbin added. “They tried to stick together and play hard.”

The Tigers had two overtime games — beating Gordon-Rushville 26-25 in double-OT and losing to district champ Bridgeport 28-26. In addition to its win over Gordon-Rushville, Bayard had a second one-point game — a 28-27 loss at Kimball to end the regular season.

But the Tigers (3-6) still made the playoffs for the third time in four years.

“We lost two games by one or two points, but to the kids’ credit, they kept believing and kept fighting to the very end,” McKibbin said.

The Minatare Indians ran into a buzz saw in top-seeded Sioux County in the Six-Man playoffs Friday, falling to the top-seeded and unbeaten Warriors 60-14.

“I told them all, ‘We have the talent, but we are just a few missed tackles from being 6-3 rather than 3-6,” second-year coach J.J. Ozuna said. “The guys were upset, which is good that they care about the program and whether they win or lose.”

The Indians improved from 1-7 in 2012 and made their first playoff appearance since 2009 by slipping into the eight-team Six-Man playoffs. But as Ozuna sees it, Minatare at least was there.

“I told them that half the teams are sitting and waiting for basketball and we were out there getting ready for the first round of the playoffs,” he said.

As for building for next season, Ozuna said the Indians have several opportunities beyond becoming more dedicated to weight workouts.

“For the offseason, we’ve been cutting and splitting firewood to raise money and also picking up small-square bales in the summer as well, learning some responsibility and team-bonding that way,” he said. “The guys know it takes more than just in-season effort, but to have work year-round, to improve.”

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