York may have had doubters on its road through the postseason, but after knocking off two of the top three teams in Class B in the past two weeks, the Dukes are making believers of everyone.
The fourth-ranked Dukes (11-1) knocked off No. 1 and unbeaten Gretna 12-7 on the Dragons' home field Friday night in the Class B semifinals. York will play for its first state title Nov. 25 against Omaha Skutt at Memorial Stadium.
York's win came on the heels of a thrilling 42-41 overtime victory over No. 3 Ralston the previous week.
“Every week, people said we couldn't do it,” York coach Glen Snodgrass said. “We may be undersized and we're little York from the middle of Nebraska, but we believed.
“We play as hard as anybody and I couldn't be prouder of this team.”
York scored the go-ahead touchdown with 8:15 left when Evan Neville bulled in from 4 yards out.
Gretna drove to the York 14 on its next possession, but the Dragons turned the ball over on downs.
Gretna got another opportunity as it moved to the York 21, thanks in part to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on fourth-and-12. But a sack of Nick Stoltenberg on first down lost 12 yards and three more pass plays could net just 6 yards.
“I'm proud of our effort. We just weren't quite good enough,” Gretna coach Chad Jepsen said. “We didn't play our 'A' game tonight.”
York's trip to the finals completes a remarkable turnaround for Snodgrass and his staff. The Panthers were in the midst of a 20-game losing streak when Snodgrass took over in 2011, and now they're playing on the final day of the season.
York (11-1) .......................................... 0 6 0 6—12
At Gretna (11-1) .......................................... 0 7 0 0—7
G: Tyler Ballard 2 run (Jay Gilman kick)
Y: Ty Danielson 32 pass from Linden Kaliff (pass failed)
Y: Evan Neville 4 run (run failed)
RUSHING: Y, Neville 12-2; Hayden Robb 5-21; Kaliff 5-(minus 39). G, Travis Agagah 17-92; Nick Stoltenberg 11-27; Ballard 5-14; Allon Johnson 5-16; Emmitt Knight 3-8; Connor Shedeed 3-14; Brady Radik 1-1.
PASSING: Y, Kaliff 19-32-0-213. G, Stoltenberg 8-19-0-65.
RECEIVING: Y, Danielson 5-60; Ryan Dolan 5-54; JJ Schulz 4-36; Neville 2-26; Jonah Otte 1-10; Robb 1-10; JJ Vanderheiden 1-7. G, Derek Templeman 3-31; Michael Johnson 2-14; Shedeed 1-16; Payne Ahrens 1-6; A. Johnson 1-(minus 2).
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Video: York celebration: