HARTINGTON — Now comes the nailbiting time.
The Hartington-Newcastle football team dropped its second straight contest with a 41-8 setback at the hands of state-rated Lutheran High Northeast last week.
HNHS (2-4) now has two weeks to gain some momentum and hopefully not only secure a playoff spot but create some mojo heading into the postseason.
The two teams started Friday’s Homecoming contest off evenly. The Wildcats stopped Lutheran High Northeast’s drive on a solid fourthdown stand.
The Eagles returned the favor, when they stopped the Cats first drive of the game on a fourth-down play.
Northeast was able to find paydirt on its next drive a 12-play, 68-yard endeavor that ended with a 20-yard Landon Johnson to Gavin Kinter 20-yard pass.
The Wildcats responded with a solid drive of their own, finding paydirt after just five plays when HNS QB Riley Sudbeck faked a handoff to Lane Heimes, then sprinted through the defense on a 44-yard TD run. Carson Sudbeck then ran it in for the two-point conversion to knot the score at 8-8 with 9:54 left in the first half.
Despite several solid attempts, the Wildcat offense was not able to complete a scoring drive the rest of the night.
Seth Pinkelman led the team with 14 tackles against LHNE.
“I thought we played a great game against another highly ranked opponent,” Wildcats head coach Corey Uldrich said. “We forced a team that really runs the ball well to go to the air to beat us. Our defense did a great job for the majority of the game. Ultimately, their big plays through the air hurt us.”
Riley Sudbeck ran for 68 yards and a touchdown while Lane Heimes and Kale Korth both churned out 66 and 48 yards on the ground respectively.
Pinkelman said the Wildcats were “pretty close” defensively, but the difference was LHNE’s ability to execute big plays. “When they decided to pass the
“When they decided to pass the ball, we didn’t talk to well and they made some big plays: That’s where most of their points came from,” Pinkelman said. “We’re feeling like we are super close, but we are not succeeding yet. It’s about finishing the plays. We do the work to start it off, but we just have to finish.
“We start off a block, but then think the play is over and then the other goes and makes the play. I like how we practice and how we come to get better every game and hopefully the next one will be better.”
The Wildcats will aim to get on track this weekend when they travel to Elkhorn Valley 7 p.m. Friday.
“Elkhorn Valley is a team that plays really hard,” Uldrich said. “We’ll be on the road looking to avenge a loss to them last year. Our postseason hopes lie in a win the next couple of weeks, but we cannot do that without a win this Friday.”
Pinkelman acknowledges that the team’s youth has allowed the Wildcats to keep optimistic because the big picture glows on the horizon.
“It’s very mixed because I like how the younger guys are getting better, but we will miss the seniors next year,” he said. “I think we can still have a great rest of the season, win the next game and the one after that.”
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