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Class C-1 preview: In battle of two-loss teams, it's Pierce vs. Columbus Lakeview for state title

Class C-1 preview: In battle of two-loss teams, it's Pierce vs. Columbus Lakeview for state title

The title games have been set for 2021 Nebraska high school football.

For the first time since 1984, both teams in the Class C-1 final have two losses.

“But I think both of us are peaking at the right time,” Pierce coach Mark Brahmer said.

Pierce will defend its 2020 Class C-1 title at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday in Memorial Stadium against fourth-ranked Columbus Lakeview, which will be in its first final since the pre-stadium days of 1990.

The game is a rematch of Pierce’s 28-27 home win over the Vikings on Sept. 3, when the Jays stopped a two-point try in the final minute.

Lakeview coach Kurt Frenzen said while the Vikings had Pierce on the ropes, they didn’t win and maybe felt too good about themselves the next week when Wayne beat them.

“We learned a hard lesson early in the season and our backs were against the wall the rest of the year. We’ve been in playoff mode quite honestly since that game,” Frenzen said. “If we fell at any time the rest of the season there was a good chance we weren’t making the playoffs.

“We didn’t talk about that really with the kids. We just wanted to make sure they are in the moment and prepping in the here and now and doing whatever they can to be in the best state of mind each and every Friday. They did a great job of buying into that.”

Pierce, currently unranked because of an oversight, has overcome several injuries. Of the Jays’ top 15 in tackles, seven have missed one or more games. The key loss was senior all-state linebacker Colton Fritz, who sustained a season-ending knee injury against Arlington in the fourth week.

“A lot of people don’t realize how important a guy he has been,” Brahmer said. “I’m biased, but he’s the best linebacker in C-1 so when you lose him, that’s impactful. And he was one of our main team leaders.”

“Not having your main guy was kind of like ripping your heart out. Probably for three or four weeks, the kids were looking around, who’s going to take the bull by the horns here and be our main leader because Colton was our energy provider.”

Both teams’ seniors have worked for their success. Brahmer said when his seniors were in seventh and eighth grades they didn’t win a game. Eleven stuck it out to this season. “They are steady, high-character kids who have developed into good football players.”

Frenzen said his seniors have been resilient. Many played when they were sophomores.

“They went through a 4-5 season and we had a lot of tough losses. That year, 2019, we got a little banged up with some other older kids and these guys stepped in. Last year, again we got a little nicked up in the middle of season and were able to close strong,” he said. “They’ve been resilient through those two years and then came into this year with a lot of high expectations.

“Not only have they managed those expectations, they’ve gone the extra mile and they’ve gotten to the point where they’re on the verge of meeting those.”

In 1984, North Platte St. Patrick’s beat Norfolk Catholic 26-0 when both had been 10-2. The previous year, Norfolk Catholic was the only three-loss champion in C-1 when it beat Gibbon 7-3.

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Stu is The World-Herald's lead writer for high school sports and for golf. Follow him on Twitter @stuOWH. Email

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