An up-and-down night capped an up-and-down week for Chad Jepsen's Gretna football team.
On Monday — the same day that the Dragons grabbed the top spot in the Class B ratings for the first time in 10 years — the first player in program history to receive a football offer from Nebraska had an operation that ended his season.
“It's been a tough week,” Jepsen said. “But we got past it.”
The Dragons turned four first-half turnovers into 23 points in a 26-0 victory over previously unbeaten South Sioux City Friday night.
Gretna was playing for the second straight week without NU recruit Mick Stoltenberg. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound senior said he had surgery on Monday to repair cartilage damage he suffered two weeks ago.
While no ACL damage — which was feared — was found during the operation, Stoltenberg said recovery time would be about 14 weeks.
The Dragons also lost two-way starter Tyler Ballard for what Jepsen said would be three or four weeks.
“You deal with it,” Jepsen said. “Nothing you can do about it.”
His team benefited Friday night from a generous Cardinals bunch.
After a good start to its opening drive, South Sioux City ended its next seven possessions this way — fumbled punt, three-and-out, interception, fumble, three-and-out, interception, kneel to end the half.
Things didn't get much better after the break as the Cardinals had three three-and-outs and a turnover on downs on their first four possessions.
Gretna would do all the scoring necessary in the first quarter. A fourth-down touchdown pass from Nick Stoltenberg to Allon Johnson made South Sioux City pay for the first miscue.
In the second quarter, Gretna kicker Jay Gilman connected from 22 and 33 yards out and running back Connor Shedeed found the end zone twice. Only Gilman's first field goal did not follow a South Sioux turnover.
After rushing for 31 yards on its opening possession, South Sioux would go for just 22 more the rest of the way.
“Our defense played pretty well,” Jepsen said. “Thank goodness.”
Nick Stoltenberg was 14 of 23 for 185 yards on the night, throwing a pair of touchdowns.
South Sioux City (3-1) ............................ 0 0 0 0— 0
At Gretna (4-0) ....................................... 6 20 0 0—26
G: Allon Johnson 6 pass from Nick Stoltenberg (run failed).
G: Jay Gilman 22 FG.
G: Gilman 33 FG.
G: Connor Shedeed 32 pass from Stoltenberg (Gilman kick).
G: Shedeed 1 run (Gilman kick).
RUSHING: SSC, Kaleb Comstock 12-19, Sammy Flores 14-31, Karter Keefer 1-1, Jake Schmiedt 3-3; G, Brady Radik 5-26, Connor Shedeed 17-27, Travis Agagah 3-6, Nick Stoltenberg 7-16, Allon Johnson 1-1, Emmitt Knight 4-4, Sam Dittmar 2-9.
PASSING: SSC, Schmiedt 5-13-2 84, Stoltenberg 14-23-0 185.
RECEIVING: SSC, Comstock 2-21, Seth Hansen 1-44, Keefer 2-19; G, Derek Templeman 5-52, Gage Kirwan 2-25, A. Johnson 1-6, Radik 2-34, Shedeed 1-32, Michael Johnson 2-19, Aaron Ware 1-8.