LINCOLN — Marquise Lewis describes himself and his teammates in the Omaha North secondary as an “off and on” unit.
They sure picked a good time to be on.
Eleven days after nearly costing the Vikings their season, North's secondary more than held its own in a 23-21 win Tuesday night over Omaha Westside for the Class A state championship.
The group helped limit the Warriors to 98 yards after halftime.
“I think our defense wanted to come out and prove something,” said Lewis, who had a first-half interception.
You couldn't blame them after giving up more than 400 yards and 34 points to Grand Island in the semifinals.
North defensive coordinator Jerod Meysenburg said the bus ride home after that narrow escape was a long one.
“I told them point blank, 'If we play like that down in Lincoln, we're not going to have the same result,' ” Meysenburg said. “And I think they already knew that.”
Early in Tuesday's final it looked as if the Viking secondary was in for another long night. Westside took the game's opening possession and marched 74 yards for a score, the final 38 covered on a touchdown pass from Christian Hagan to Luke Biggs.
Meysenburg said his message to his players following that drive probably wasn't one that most might expect.
His reaction: Well, we've seen this before.
“I don't know how many teams this season came out and boom, boom, boom right down the field,” he said. “We didn't panic because of one bad possession.”
The Vikings settled in after that and hit a stride in the second half. Hagan completed just 5 of 12 attempts after the break for 57 yards.
Not much of a secret to that success, senior safety JaVaughn Perkins said.
“We had to put in some work this week,” he said.
Meysenburg agreed, saying that North didn't change much between the semifinals and finals.
“It was us going back to our basics,” he said. “We just needed to get good at doing what we had done all year to get to this point. We got exposed at Grand Island, no question. But I think it got us refocused, especially in our secondary.
“We got back after it this week.”
Back to on.
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>> Video: Class A state championship highlights: