It will seem like déjà vu when Fremont First State Bank and Gretna square off this weekend in the American Legion Class A state tournament final.
The same two teams met for the championship in 2019, with Fremont prevailing. There was no state tournament last year because of the pandemic.
The best-of-three series will be played at Omaha Skutt. The first game is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday and the second will be played at 1 p.m. Saturday.
A third game, if needed, would follow immediately after the second game.
Gretna would have hosted the series, but the Dragons’ field is undergoing renovations. Gretna also was the host team in 2019.
“It would have been fun to have it at our field again,” Gretna coach Bryan O’Flynn said. “But we’re thankful that Skutt is available and we’re looking forward to the series.”
The Dragons played the American Division final at Skutt on Wednesday night, defeating Five Points Bank (Omaha Creighton Prep) 7-2. The game was shifted from Omaha Westside because of a faulty bank of lights at the Warriors’ field.
It was the second victory Wednesday for Gretna, who earlier had eliminated DC Electric (Bellevue West) 3-1 to advance to play the Junior Jays. That ended the Thunderbirds’ season at 52-4.
“It was a long day, that’s for sure,” O’Flynn said. “I can’t say enough about the way our guys went out and took care of business.”
Junior Jays coach Pat Mooney also credited Gretna for its performance in the final.
“They beat a really good Bellevue West team in the heat and then played great against us,” he said. “We wish them the best of luck because they definitely deserved this.”
Gretna (35-14) went 5-1 in the American Division portion of the 16-team tourney, losing only to Five Points Bank. The Dragons defeated teams from Bellevue West (twice) and Papillion-La Vista South, two of the top Legion squads this summer.
Fremont (26-12) was equally impressive while capturing the National Division at Den Hartog Field in Lincoln. Coach Jeff Hayden’s squad went 5-0, defeating Arbor Bank (Omaha Skutt) 7-3 in Wednesday’s final.
“Our kids have a lot of fight,” Hayden said. “We knew that we had to keep making plays, and our kids embraced that.”
Perhaps Fremont’s most impressive tourney win came against Carpet Land (Lincoln East). First State Bank trailed 7-0 after two innings and rallied for a 10-9 victory.
“We feel like we’re never out of any game,” Hayden said. “We’ve got great leadership, and that’s probably a big part of it.”
The teams are not strangers. Fremont and Gretna played five times this season, with Gretna winning three.
That includes their games at the A-6 area tournament in Norfolk. The Dragons defeated Fremont once, but Five Points Bank bounced back to win twice and capture the A-6 title.
“It’s fun to play them,” Hayden said. “We’ve developed a respectful rivalry, and I’m sure both teams are looking forward to a great series.”
The state tournament champion will advance to the Mid-South Regional that begins Aug. 4 at Duncan Field in Hastings.