NORFOLK, Neb. — Much has been made about Class A’s District 3 resembling college football’s Southeastern Conference for week-in, week-out competitiveness.
There are five Class C-2 teams around Norfolk that like to believe their district is no different.
Three of the five came into Friday in the C-2 Top 10 — No. 2 Norfolk Lutheran, No. 6 Crofton and No. 7 Hartington Cedar Catholic. Battle Creek was undefeated like Lutheran. West Holt had been ranked until losing its top player, Josh Coyle, to a season-ending knee injury.
“It’s ... fun,’’ Crofton coach Tony Hoffman said. “But I’ll honestly say that I’d love to play Lutheran, Cedar Catholic, West Holt and Battle Creek week to week to week. Those are teams, games that make you better.”
Said Lutheran coach Darin Suckstorf: “This district is definitely tough. Once you get past any of the negatives, it prepares you well for what you’ll see in the playoffs.”
Friday’s two games in the district didn’t hurt its reputation. Lutheran needed an interception on the game’s last play to hold off Crofton 20-14 at Veterans’ Memorial Field and remain undefeated.
A little later and farther west on U.S. 275 at Battle Creek’s Bob Schnitzler Field, the host Braves kept pace with Lutheran in the district standings with a 36-13 win over Cedar.
“We’ve faced some good teams, but not of the caliber of Cedar,’’ Battle Creek coach Andrew Carlson said. “We have to step up and play hard the rest of the year.”
Battle Creek, which visits Crofton next week, will play Lutheran at home on Oct. 24 for the district title. Lutheran goes outside the district next week for a home game against Ponca.
On Friday, Lutheran’s single-wing offense was on the field so long that Crofton had only five possessions in the game. The Warriors (4-2) trailed 13-0 before taking their first snap.
The Eagles ran the first 24 plays, getting the ball back on a successful onside kick after its first touchdown. Kyle Rosberg’s 8-yard touchdown run followed Ryan Brand’s 4-yarder.
Crofton made it 13-7 with 52 seconds left in the half on Evan Woockman’s 1-yard run, but left enough time for Lutheran’s Shaka Taylor to throw to Keaton Alberts for a 68-yard touchdown and a 20-7 halftime lead.
The Warriors’ defense was on the field for 25 consecutive plays in the second half — it fumbled away an interception — but it stopped sophomore Ayden Wiederin for no gain on fourth-and-goal from the 1 with 8:52 left.
“One of our things with the single-wing is to control the ball,’’ Suckstorf said. “This game we knew converting on fourth down was going to be big. I wish we would have gotten some of those in the fourth quarter.”
Woockman threw a ball that had hang time on it to his cousin, a wide-open Austin Woockman, for a 12-yard touchdown with 3:44 left.
“We told Evan to roll left and look for the post route and then just launch it the other way for Austin,’’ Hoffman said.
Crofton forced a three-and-out and, without a timeout remaining, marched from its 33 to the Lutheran 25. A false-start penalty moved the ball back to the 30, then Lutheran sophomore Ryan Brand intercepted Evan Woockman at the 5 to end the game.
Taylor, who led Lutheran with 124 yards on 31 carries, missed the final 1½ quarters with an apparent concussion.
Evan Woockman ran for a game-high 131 yards and passed for 62.
Crofton (4-2) ............................ 0 7 0 7—14
At Norfolk Lutheran (6-0) ............................ 13 7 0 0—20
NL: Ryan Brand 4 run (Nate Stolze kick)
NL: Kyle Rosberg 8 run (pass failed)
C: Evan Woockman 1 run (Brock Mueller kick)
NL: Keaton Alberts 68 pass from Shaka Taylor (Stolze kick)
C: Austin Woockman 12 pass from E. Woockman (Mueller kick)
Battle Creek 36, Hartington Cedar Catholic 13
Battle Creek grabbed an early 10-0 lead against Cedar (4-2) with a 39-yard field goal from Zach Bellar and Nate Gray’s 25-yard touchdown run.
Left-hander Taylor Kathol, who threw for two touchdowns in the loss, hit Dalton Lammers on a slant-in for a 5-yard score in the second quarter before Battle Creek broke the game open in the third.
The Braves’ Eli McKeown returned a punt 70 yards, making several jukes, for a 16-7 lead and Trev Bode made it 23-7 with an 11-yard run on a trap play.
McKeown, after a 53-yard interception return, scored on a 6-yard pass from Bellar early in the final quarter. Gray ended the scoring on a 17-yard run in the final two minutes to finish with 156 yards on 25 carries.
Bellar was 11 of 14 for 137 yards.
Hartington CC (4-2) ............................ 0 7 0 6—13
At Battle Creek (6-0) ............................ 10 0 13 13—36
BC: FG Zach Bellar 39
BC: Nate Gray 25 run (Bellar kick)
CC: Dalton Lammers 5 pass from Taylor Kathol (Lammers kick)
BC: Eli McKeown 70 punt return (kick failed)
BC: Trev Bode 11 run (Bellar kick)
BC: McKeown 6 pass from Bellar (Bellar kick)
CC: James Kaiser 63 pass from Kathol (run failed)
BC: Gray 17 run (kick blocked)