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Gretna routs Creighton Prep, sets up rematch vs. Westside in Class A final

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Gretna's Korver Demma after semifinal win over Omaha Creighton Prep

​Back to Memorial Stadium go Gretna and Omaha Westside, the first time the same two teams will meet in back-to-back seasons for the state title in 13 years.

Like Westside in its 38-7 win over Grand Island, No. 1 Gretna won in a breeze — 36-14 over Omaha Creighton Prep — fitting on the coldest night of the season with the north wind unblocked at its stadium.

Did I say block? Korver Demma blocked punts Friday night the way his mother blocked spikes when the former Megan Korver was dominating the middle for Nebraska’s volleyball team back in the late 1990s.

He got to two of them.

"That was the first time I played special teams on punt block this season," Demma said. "Coming out of the middle they didn’t really block me either time. I just got my hands up. Like you said, just like my mom."

Gretna scored off both for a 14-0 lead and kept taking advantage of Junior Jays mistakes. No long touchdown drives needed in this one.

Prep lost two of eight fumbles, mostly on snaps. One rolled 21 yards into the end zone for a safety. Just the opposite of last week, when it was six Junior Jay takeaways that led to a 10-3 win over undefeated Elkhorn South.

"Our offense did a great job capitalizing. Complementary football, that's what it was about. All four quarters. We did that tonight. And I'm very proud of what we were able to accomplish," Demma said.

His first block set up Gretna at the Prep 22 and five plays later, on fourth-and-1 from the 2, Oklahoma State quarterback pledge Zane Flores — after four years, we’ve finally learned that his name is pronounced Floors — showed sneak and instead went off the left side to open the scoring late in the first quarter.

The Junior Jays had the wind in the first quarter and netted 23 yards. Only because sophomore Tony Coniglio, the second of Prep’s three quarterbacks in the half, went for 37 yards to open the second quarter did they have a scoring chance. But kicking into the wind, Ford Hamilton’s well-struck 29-yarder was wide left.

Gretna jammed in 10 points in the final 4:40 of the half for its 17-0 lead. Again, it was Demma’s block that set up an even shorter field than the time before. From the 14, Gretna scored in three plays ending with Blayke Moore’s 5-yarder on a pitch reserve. Cameron Bothwell, who kicked three field goals against Prep in Gretna’s 16-13 regular-season win, made a 26-yarder just before halftime.

"The defense stepped up," Gretna coach Mike Kayl said. "That's a good offense, you know, the way they run the ball and as good as their line is, our D line had to play and then they played really well. They gave us a short field, the kids took advantage and we just got that momentum."

Prep went without a first down in the middle two quarters against the wind. Its two touchdowns came from backup running back Cayden Russell in the final four minutes. North Dakota State commit Marty Brown was stacked up most of the night, getting 41 yards on 19 carries after breaking two long runs against the Dragons in the regular season.

"Looking at that game, the last time we played him he busted a couple of big ones and we just had some kids miss some tackles out of position, some misreads up front," Kayl said. "So we just preached that all year. We just try to make them just to chunk down the field and hopefully they'd have a turnover or something or maybe a penalty. We did our job there and credit to the defensive coaches and the kids."

Zac McLeay had a pick and a fumble return for No. 4 Prep, which finished 8-4.

Come Nov. 21, it’s round two for Westside-Gretna. Lest anyone has forgotten, Gretna won 7-3 with a late goal-line turnback. The title was later vacated by the NSAA for Gretna using an ineligible player.

You can be sure Gretna wants validation for last year’s win on the field. You can be sure Westside is still smarting from coming up a yard short. You can be sure this will be a highly-charged game between two very good teams.

As for the other finals, set up through Friday’s semifinals:

Class B: Bennington vs. Omaha Gross. After Gross beat Elkhorn, this is the game we’ve waited for in this class. Defending champion Bennington is on a 25-game winning streak. Gross last won state a decade ago.

Class C-1: Aurora vs. Pierce. The game we’ve anticipated since learning Class B runner-up Aurora would be dropping down into Class C-1, in which Pierce was runner-up last year.

Class C-2: Norfolk Catholic vs. Hartington Cedar Catholic. Cedar has advanced to the finals allowing three points in regulation the past two games. Plus, it held season-long No. 1 Catholic to 14 to end the regular season.

Eight Man-1: Neligh-Oakdale vs. Clarkson/Leigh: An all-northeast final between first-time finalists. Neligh’s Aiden Kuester is a national record-setter at quarterback and gets a game in the stadium.

Eight Man-2: Hitchcock County vs. Howells-Dodge: Hitchcock’s first finals appearance will be against the Jaguars, riding a 25-game winning streak and seeking to be champions after winning Eight Man-1 last year.

Six Man: Lincoln Parkview vs. Pawnee City, next Friday at UNK. Parkview won 43-16 in the regular season. Their seniors were 2-6 and 0-8, respectively, as freshmen and Pawnee City subsequently left the eight-man ranks.

Omaha Creighton Prep (8-4)...   0  0   0   14 - 14

Gretna (12-0)........................... 7  10  16  3 - 36

G: Zane Flores 2 run (Cameron Bothwell kick)

G: Blayke Moore 5 run (Bothwell kick)

G: FG Bothwell 26

G: Safety, low snap covered in end zone

G: Isaiah Weber 5 run (Bothwell kick)

G: Moore 9 pass from Flores (Bothwell kick)

CP: Cayden Russell 28 run (Ford Hamilton kick)

CP: Russell 1 run (Hamilton kick)​

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Reporter - High school sports

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

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