Scottsbluff vs. Omaha Roncalli.
That’s about all that needs to be said, right? If you remember last year’s matchup between the two in the state quarterfinals then you know tomorrow night has plenty of storylines.
So, I’m gonna talk about it.
It’s the Class B semifinals tomorrow night for Scottsbluff as they head east to Omaha to take on the Roncalli Catholic Crimson Pride for the right to advance to the state championship game on the Monday of Thanksgiving week.
This is the first time Roncalli has ever hosted a semifinal game.
In last year’s matchup between these two a lot happened. It ended in typical Scottsbluff fashion as the Bearcats won in a blowout by the final of 62-36. How they arrived at that point was a bit different than what they were use to.
Roncalli took a big early lead after a couple of early Scottsbluff turnovers and appeared to be on cruise control on offense. Then their star quarterback, Jack Dotzler, went down with an injury and Scottsbluff pounced (Dotzler stayed overnight in the hospital with the injury and some of the Scottsbluff kids showed some real sportsmanship to visit Dotzler just to make sure he was feeling ok…it turned into a bit of a feel good story around the state with Garrett Nelson leading the way).
The Cats offense kicked into overdrive and without Dotzler at the controls the Crimson Pride offense came to a grinding halt.
62-36 the final as Scottsbluff advanced to Lincoln where they were eventually beaten by Omaha Skutt Catholic.
Fast forward to the here and now and this one has all the makings of a big time showdown.
Scottsbluff, the No. 1 overall seed, is 11-0 and coming off a 49-28 beatdown of Norris last Friday night. Head Coach Jud Hall got a vintage performance from his team with the running game pounding out over 450 yards on the ground.
Star quarterback Sabastian Harsh, coming off a knee injury, ripped it up with 43 carries for 275 yards and 5 touchdowns. Harsh runs behind what the Scottsbluff coaches have called the best offensive line the team has had in years.
On the season Harsh has rushed for just under 1,450 yards with a whopping 27 rushing touchdowns. He’s also thrown for 631 yards and 8 more touchdowns through the air.
His opposite number tomorrow night, Jack Dotzler, has done a number on his opponents this season. Dotzler has put up some video game like numbers with nearly 3,000 yards passing and 35 touchdowns with just 6 interceptions. Dotzler has also run for nearly 500 yards having added another 11 scores on the ground. Coach Hall has called Dotzler “the ultimate gamer”.
Scottsbluff defensive coordinator, Jake McLain, knows they’ll have to hang tough when Dotzler and the crew are making plays and gives some keys to succes for his unit tomorrow.
The force of nature in Harsh and the dual threat acrobatics of Dotzler make for a great headliner tomorrow night. The quarterbacks will be front and center.
That said, neither of those guys figure to be the reason why their respective team would lose the game. That will probably come down to the makeup of the rest of the rosters and how each teams strength is handled by the opponent.
Harsh talked about that offensive line for Scottsbluff. It’s led by 6’6 tackle, Sam Clarkson, plus veterans like Terrance Mokeac, Creighton Dike, Joe McCloud, and Tyler Smith. They’ve got backups on the line that would be starting for other playoff teams in Class B.
As for Clarkson, the big fella just committed to division-two national power Northwest Missouri State.
Clarkson’s older brother, Austin, is a junior and starter along the offensive line for the Bearcats and the two will get to play together for one season next year.
One area of concern for Scottsbluff is that star running back Jacob Krul, who missed the second half of last week’s game with an injury, is going to miss the remainder of the season. Krul has a broken foot and he’s scheduled for surgery tomorrow (Friday, 11/15).
Krul has over 1,500 yards rushing and 14 rushing touchdowns this season. After playing halfback last year, he moved to the feature back role this season. Krul is a college prospect and this is just a real downer for a young man that waited his turn to be “the man” and then was exactly that. Wanna wish Jacob a speedy recovery!
Roncalli comes in having played a tough schedule. Their only losses came in weeks two and three to two teams that are matched up in the other semifinal game, Skutt and Waverly. Last week the Crimson Pride went on the road at routed a stout Northwest team by the final of 42-17.
In the win, Dotzler threw for over 300 yards and three touchdowns while adding another score with his legs.
By comparison, Scottsbluff won at Northwest in week three by the final of 18-13 in a real slug-fest as the Bearcats scored a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter to earn the win.
Outside of Dotzler some of the key names for Roncalli on the, offensive side of the ball would be; WR Shane Orr (set a Class B record this season with 15 touchdown catches), Ryan Fenoglio (over 40 catches and over 800 yards receiving), along with sophomore running back Darick Rodgers (older brother Alex was a big time player in last year’s game).
Scottsbluff possesses a pretty vaunted front seven on defense and they’ll be looking to get to the quarterback to help out the secondary in this matchup.
The Scottsbluff pass defense against Dotzler and crew will be key on that side of the ball for the Bearcats.
Where Roncalli has to have some worries is trying to stop the running game of Scottsbluff. In their week three loss to Waverly they allowed over 600 yards rushing.
If Scottsbluff avoids turnovers and just grinds out drives like usual then the pressure really falls on Dotzler to be mistake free and score touchdowns.
Special teams have been a huge weapon for the Cats all season long. Harsh and fellow senior Caleb Walker have routinely put the ball in the endzone for touchbacks in kicking game and Walker is about as reliable as they come kicking extra points and he’s capable of hitting a big field goal if necessary.
All things considered this one shapes up to be must see on Friday night. The story lines are there. The talent is there on both sidelines. The stakes are high with the winner off to Lincoln for the title game to play either Waverly or Skutt.
Scottsbluff is rugged. Scottsbluff is hungry. Scottsbluff has a special player who’s capable of putting the load on his shoulders if need be.
Roncalli has Dotzler and plenty of weapons around him.
Mike Halley joins me for the broadcast tomorrow night on 106.9 The Trail and kneb.com starting at 4:30 with pregame and kickoff is slated for 5:00 MT. We sure hope you’ll tune in and join us for what should be a great high school football game.
Scottsbluff vs. Roncalli. Enough said.