MITCHELL — Cedar Catholic took to the road for the first round of the C2 football playoffs, traveling 410 miles to Mitchell, one way,to come away with a 44-14 win over the No. 5-seeded Tigers.
“The long playoff trips we have had lately can be extremely stressful in terms of preparing so many extra things that go along with a game,” Cedar Catholic coach Chad Cattau said. “But it seems like we have learned a routine that works and we have followed pretty closely the past three years.”
The experience in the long trips was valuable in the team maintaining focus despite the long bus ride.
In fact, in the past three seasons, the Trojans have traveled over 2,500 miles for opening round games in Bridgeport, North Platte (St. Patrick’s) and now Mitchell.
Mitchell actually jumped on the Trojans early, using a 58-yardpass play from quarterback Cael Peters to Santiago Castillo just under two minutes into the game to take a 7-0 lead,but Cedar Catholic got the motor running from there.
James Christensen capped off a Trojan drive with a 20-yard dash to the end zone and with 6:45 left in the opening quarter, Cedar Catholic took the lead for good after a conversion run by Braeden Reifenrath.
Before the quarter ended, the Trojans were in the end zone again. Reifenrath found his big tight end, Jaxson Bernecker, from 29 yards away and after Reifenrath ran in the conversion,Cedar Catholic went to the second period with a 16-7 lead.
Andrew Jones, who led the Trojan rushing attack with 164 yards on the ground in 25 carries, hit pay dirt with 6:30 left in the half on a 20-yard run, the conversion run was no good, but the lead moved up to 22-7.
The Cedar defense got in the mix as Carson Arens stepped in front of a Peters aerial and returned it for six points, Jones ran in the conversion and with three minutes left in the half, the advantage was up to 30-7.
Our coaches did a great job of putting together a very solid defensive game plan against what Mitchell ran throughout the season and we felt well prepared,” Cattau said. “They came out and ran a formation that we hadn’t seen all season and they ran it on nearly every play - it took us a little while to adjust, but once we did, I thought our defenseplayed very well.”
Reifenrath, who would finish with 70 yards on the ground, scampered 23 yards for a score with 1:20 left before the intermission and the Trojans went to the break in control, 36-7.
Mitchell scored on another pass play for the only score in thethird, but the Trojans answered with another Jones run in the fourth to seal the game by the 44-14 final score.
Cedar Catholic controlled the game and the clock on the ground,piling up 335 yards on the ground, added 71 and a score through the air for a total of 406 yards.
Cattau and the coaches made a couple of offensive changes coming into the game of their own.
“Because of limitations on the mobility of some of our runningbacks, we made the move in this game to play Andrew Jones at running back and give Braeden Reifenrath his first career start at varsity quarterback,” Cattau said. “I thought both guys stepped into those roles and played real well.”
The game was won at the line of scrimmage however.On both sides of the football.
Kathol (26 kills), Melayna McGregor (13 kills), Bernecker (six kills, four blocks), Jones (24 digs) and Meredith McGregor (40 assists) led the Cedar girls to the win over a short-handed Norfolk Catholic squad.
“We came out and had a great team win against Wausa,” Buss said. “After the game we talked about how it wasn’t overwhelmingly one player that shined in that game, we really had nice contributions from everyone, even the energy from the bench contributes and that is really a strong suit of our team. We have individually great players but putting everything together makes our team so very strong.
“(Norfolk Catholic) was back and forth and a game of small runs. When we needed it, we would get a great dig, a block, throw them out of system with a nice serve, or a great smart hit.
Everyone was really honed in, and you could see it in their eyes that we were hungry for this win. It was just great to see all that energy and the pure joy on their faces. When we went to the locker room there were sincere tears of joy…” The win improves Cedar’s season record to 24-10 and sends the Lady Trojans to a 1 p.m. Thursday game in the opening round of the State Tournament.
Cedar 25 27 26 Axtell 20 25 24 KILLS Cedar - Laney Kathol, 15; Melayna McGregor, 10; Lauren Bernecker, 5; Lexi Eickhoff, 5; Jozie Becker, 4; Meredith McGregor, 3.
ACE SERVES Cedar - Meredith McGregor, 5; Annika Kuehn, 1.
BLOCKS Cedar - Lexi Eickhoff, 4; Melayna McGregor, 3; Laney Kathol, 2; Jozie Becker, 1; Lauren Bernecker, 1.
DIGS Cedar - Katy Jones, 13; Annika Kuehn, 7; Laney Kathol, 6; Faith Christensen, 5; Merideth McGregor, 3; McKinlee Lammers, 3; Jozie Becker, 1; Lexi Eickhoff, 1.
SET ASSISTS Cedar - Meredith McGregor, 38; Laney Kathol, 1.
Wausa 22 23 16 Cedar 25 25 25 KILLS Wausa - Hunter West, 12; Alexa Cunnigham, 6; Alexis Munter, 5; Bailey West, 4; Kate Lundberg, 1. Cedar - Laney Kathol, 13; Melayna McGregor, 4; Jozie Becker, 2; Lauren Bernecker, 2.
ACE SERVES Alexa Cunningham, 2; Hunter West, 1. Cedar - Annika Kuehn, 1; Lauren Bernecker, 1; Meredith McGregor, 1.
BLOCKS Wausa - Alexa Cunningham, 2; Sienna West, 1. Cedar - Lexi Eickhoff, 3; Laney Kathol, 2; Jozie Becker, 1; Lauren Bernecker, 1; Melayna McGregor, 1; Meredith McGregor, 1.
DIGS Wausa - Hunter West, 10; Blair Wakeley, 9; Abby Kaiser, 5; Sienna West, 3; Anika Alonzo, 2; Bailey West, 2; Kate Lundberg, 1.Cedar - Annika Kuehn, 7; Katy Jones, 6; Laney Kathol, 4; Meredith McGregor, 4; Faith Christensen, 2; Jozie Becker, 1; Grace Wortmann, 1; Lauren Bernecker, 1.
SET ASSISTS Wausa - Sienna West, 23. Cedar - Meredith McGregor, 17;