The Pinnacle Bank Game of the Week featured Class B No. 9 Grand Island Northwest traveling to Class B No. 5 Aurora.
Northwest took the opening drive of the game methodically down the field for a touchdown, making it look as though it would be a long night for the Huskies. However, Aurora would answer back, taking a 22-21 lead into the half.
The second half was all about defense as both teams made adjustments and forced turnovers. Northwest quarterback Sam Hartman found Riley Anderson for a touchdown with 1:06 remaining in the game. Then, the Vikings defense stopped Aurora’s final drive and went on to win 36-29.
Here are Prep Recruiting Specialist Mike Sautter’s three takes from the game:
1. Northwest quarterback Sam Hartman made some tough throws and ran extremely hard. His toughness, leadership and ability to make the right plays for the Viking offense was crucial, particularly on the final drive of the game. When it looked like Northwest was going to settle for a game-winning field goal, they went to Hartman on the ground to churn out the tough yards. The coaches trusted him enough to make a good throw to Anderson into the end zone on what was the game-winning play.
2. The Northwest defense has a handful of legitimate playmakers, particularly at the linebacker position. Senior Zach Pistulka and junior Aiden Davies seemed to be in on every tackle and made life really hard at times for Aurora’s athletic quarterback Ethan Shaw. Senior defensive lineman Brody Stutzman had two big sacks. As sophomore defensive end Victor Isele continues to develop, he will likely be on college radars soon if he isn't already.
3. The combination of Aurora senior quarterback Ethan Shaw and senior wide receiver Jacob Settles can be lethal as the Huskies head to the playoffs. Settles made huge plays in the running game and caught some big passes. Shaw has the speed and quickness to get tough yards with his legs. Junior running back Mack Owens shows great promise. He had a tough fumble late in the game, but his size (6-2, 200-pounds), speed and athleticism is something collegiate programs will likely take a hard look at.