If 5,000 people do end up converging on Morrison Stadium Monday night like many are expecting, the following sentence may be difficult to comprehend.
Prep-South used to be a one-sided rivalry.
A record-breaking attendance is anticipated as No. 1 Omaha South and third-ranked Omaha Creighton Prep square off in Monday's 7:45 p.m. Class A boys state championship game at Creighton's on-campus facility.
Right now, they're the gold standard for soccer in the state. Fifteen years ago, not so much.
“We had one win one of those years,” Packers coach Joe Maass said. “I don't think they ever really felt threatened.”
The Junior Jays, the longtime traditional power, dominated the series for years as Maass got his program on its feet.
It wasn't until 2007 that South became a player in the area. Since that 16-2 season, when the Packers missed out on the state tournament, they've been the Junior Jays' chief rival at the top.
After not playing each other in the regular-season schedule for a handful of years, the two again began playing at least once — and in most cases twice — in 2008.
The first sign that South was a challenger probably came in 2010, when it won in a shootout in the semifinals at the state.
“With Prep, it was the mental thing,” Maass said. “I think when we knocked them off in the semis it changed that a little.”
Though the Junior Jays won four of the next five during the next two seasons, including victories in the semifinals at state both years, Prep co-coach Tom Hoover said his group began seeing the Packers as a real contender around that time.
“That was, for the guys, when the light bulb went off and we said 'this team has arrived,'” Hoover said.
Sandwiched in between the pair of victories in 2012 was a 3-2 South victory after Prep had reached the No. 1 spot in a national ranking.
It was the lone loss of the Junior Jays' state title season, the first of two straight Class A crowns.
Then came 2013, the latest chapter in Prep-South. And this one had a twist.
The Packers may enter Monday's championship as the favorite. They are 22-0 and have set both major records this season. They've scored 132 goals, 36 more than the previous mark, and their 19 shutouts are two more than a record set in 2007.
Equally important, they've beaten Prep twice. The first came in overtime, a 1-0 win in the Metro Conference tournament title game.
“I'd be lying if I didn't,” Maass said when asked if he was happy to be playing the Junior Jays in the state championship. “The last three of four years I wish Prep was on the other side, because that game was just like a final.”
Combined with a 1-0 South shootout victory two weeks after the Metro tournament, the teams have totaled one goal in a combined 200 minutes of soccer.
But make no mistake, they can score. Michael Jaime and Abel Alvarado have a combined 50 goals and four teammates have at least 10 apiece for the Packers.
“Their depth is ridiculous,” Hoover said. “If they take a guy off the field, the person coming in for that spot is just as good. They probably could go 22 deep.”
Prep's Mark Moulton, a UNO recruit, has scored 26 times this season and has standout running mates in Creighton recruit Alex Prusa in the midfield and double-digit goal-scorer James Narke up top.
One of the underlying storylines is the Junior Jays' quest for history. No Class A boys team has won three state titles in a row. After beating their longest rival, Omaha Westside, in last year's championship game, their newest rival stands in the way of a three-peat.
“Should be a fabulous night,” Hoover said. “You can't find a better soccer contest, the last few years, than South and Prep.”
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