RECAP: Westside Plays Tough Game in Lincoln, Takes State Runner-Up


Emma Rieser

Senior Grant Tagge pushes off a tackler.

On Tuesday, November 26th the Warrior Varsity Football team setup against the Bellevue West Thunderbirds for the Class A State title game at Memorial Stadium. With temperatures as low as 22º at game time and a light snow which had fallen only minutes before kickoff, conditions on the playing field were not ideal for either team. Throughout the matchup, the Warriors offense was stalled throughout and the team fell to the Thunderbirds 35-0. With the cold temperatures, the Warriors passing game wasn’t able to produce what it had in recent weeks, only putting up a total of 75 yards on the game. As for the run game, the Warriors could only get past the Thunderbird defensive line for 49 yards and couldn’t quite find an explosive play. 

On the other side of the ball, the leading rusher in Class A, Jay Ducker rushed for 214 yards and added to his 11-man state record with three rushing touchdowns on the night. The Thunderbird offense put up 406 total yards on the night and took home the state title. Junior Brett Thorell felt that positive plays were truly hard to come by for the team and things just weren’t feeling quite right.

“Everything was a little off and not much was going our way,” Thorell said. “We just couldn’t find a spark to really turn stuff around. That night, Bellevue West was just the better team.”

The Warriors end their season with a ten and three record and snag the state Class A runner-up trophy. The Warriors on the year averaged the third-most points per game at just over 36. On the defensive side of the ball, the Warriors kept opponents to an average of 13 points, fourth among all Class A team. Junior Raoul Kolani is most proud of the team in the way they defied expectations against many people’s beliefs.

“How far we got, we got pretty far compared to where we were rated or were ‘supposed to be’ and it gives us a good look for next year’s team seeing what we could be capable of,” Kolani said. 

High school sports for many athletes is another way for the players and coaches to learn and get better as people. Head Coach Brett Froendt has worked a lot with his players on building brotherhood and winning as a team as well as learning as a team. Kolani felt that the biggest and most important thing that the team learned this year was how to control their mindset.

“E plus R equals O. You can’t control the event but you can control the outcome which is your reaction to the event,” Kolani said. “That helped everyone’s mindset of looking at the greater good. Even though I can’t control this, I can this out of it because of the way I reacted.”

This year’s state championship appearance is the first appearance for a Warrior football team since 2013 and only the third appearance since the turn of the century. Thorell felt that although the athletic ability of the team was high, the culture work they went through put them in the position as a team to get to a point where other teams haven’t before.

“There’s a lot of talent on [this] team but it doesn’t just take the talent, it takes bonding with each other, playing physical and playing hard,” Thorell said. “I think it’s just a really special team.”