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Norfolk Catholic shuts out Hartington Cedar Catholic for Class C-2 state title

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LINCOLN — It was a quirk within Norfolk Catholic’s championship tradition.

The record 10 state titles the Knights won before Tuesday, all were in Class C-1. When they were in Class C-2, they were winless in four finals appearances.

The C-2 hex is broken. The Knights defeated Hartington Cedar Catholic 23-0.

“I thought about that on the way down," longtime coach Jeff Bellar said, “that we'd actually done pretty well in C-1 but I think we were 0-4 in C-2.

“So finally I can feel a little better about life in Class C-2.”

Bellar then was hit with a water cooler bath. His first in C-2 and 10th overall with the Knights.

While Cedar again defended the Knights better than any other opponent in their 13-0 season, their two lowest scores of the season coming against the Trojans, both wins over Cedar were Norfolk Catholic’s only shutouts of the year.

The seasonlong No. 1 Knights recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff, leading to a field goal. Kanyon Talton and Karter Kerkman finished off the next two possessions with touchdowns. Brandon Kollars’ 8-yard run midway through the fourth quarter ended the scoring.

“Kerkman was still a little nicked up," Bellar said. “We were hoping to get him going, but other guys filled in and we got enough points to win the football game.

“We've been pretty sound defensively all year and we were good again.”

The Knights held No. 7 Cedar (9-4), playing with a banged-up lineup, to 62 yards in the first half and 147 for the game. The Trojans never got closer to scoring than the Norfolk Catholic 19, where they turned over the ball on downs after an incompletion.

In the fourth quarter, down three scores, Cedar quarterback Braeden Reifenrath lost touchdown passes on the same set of downs. The first, to Grant Arens, was wiped up by an illegal touching penalty for Arens coming back from out of bounds before the catch. A holding call negated the next one, to Jaymison Cattau.

“As bad as we did start, I thought we responded and second half we played much better," Cedar coach Chad Cattau said. “The kids were very resilient. They didn't ever hang their heads. They just kept plugging away and had some opportunities to score in the second half and some penalties took that away from us.”

Bellar said a “really good senior group” made this team special.

“I think as you as you age, you wonder are you going to get this opportunity again? We got it today," said the state’s career leader in victories. “I’m proud of the kids. I think they have an older coach that's maybe a little old fashioned, but we do think we have a plan that we can put together with kids in terms of weight room and all the things we do and can be successful.”

Hartington Cedar Catholic (9-4).....0 0 0 0—  0

Norfolk Catholic (13-0)..................9 7 0 7—23

NC: FG Max Hammond 29

NC: Kaynon Talton 3 run (kick failed)

NC: Karter Kerkman 3 run (Hammond kick)

NC: Brandon Kollars 8 run (Hammond kick)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

Rushing: HC, Carson Arens 1-39, Andrew Jones 10-22, Braeden Reifenrath 8-13, James Christensen 2-5. NC, Talton 18-67, Kerkman 12-67, Trevin Sukup 8-39, Carter Janssen 15-38, Kollars 3-23, Hammond 1-6, team 2-minus 2.

Passing: HC, Reifenrath 7-18-1 68, Jones 0-1-0 0. NC, Janssen 4-6-0 51.

Receiving: HC, Grant Arens 5-31, C. Arens 1-26, Jaymison Cattau 1-11. NC, Talton 2-32, Hammond 1-14, Cameron Borgmann 1-5.

Tackles (UA-A-T): HC, Jaelen Lammers 5-14-19, Keaton Steffen 2-10-12, Jaxson Bernecker 3-8-11, Spencer Albers 5-5-10, Nolan Becker 3-5-8, C. Arens 1-6-7, Owen Dendlinger 3-2-5, Jay Steffen 2-2-4, G. Arens 1-3-4, Maxwell Steffen 2-1-3, Christensen 1-2-3, Weston Heine 1-2-3, Ty Thoene 0-2-2, Breiton Whitmire 1-0-1, Grayden Hochstein 0-1-1, Jack Christensen 0-1-1. NC, Kade Pieper 5-2-7, Kollars 3-2-5, Borgmann 3-1-4, Nathan Timmerman 1-3-4, Nolan Fennessy 2-1-3, John Clausen 0-3-3, Caden Arens 2-0-2, Hammond 2-0-2, Mason Timmerman 1-1-2, Shaun Clinch 1-0-1, Talton 1-0-1, Mason Weidner 1-0-1, Ethan Reardon 0-1-1, Sam Johnson 0-1-1, Sukup 0-1-1, Clayton Carney 0-1-1, Ben Sousek 0-1-1.

Interceptions – NC, Hammond 1-27. Fumble recoveries – NC, Hammond.​

A field goal in the closing seconds gives Omaha Westside the Class A title in football.

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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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