Millard North deserves some R&R for a season like none other in Class A football.
The Mustangs were resilient and relentless — a different kind of R&R — in winning their second state title in three years and reigning as the No. 1 team in this year’s final Top 10 ratings.
Every one of their 13 wins came against a playoff team, a first.
They took the opposition’s best shots, too. Five wins were by a touchdown or less:
» Millard South 12-10 in the season opener.
» Papillion-La Vista 49-42 at midseason when the Monarchs were undefeated.
» Omaha North 37-31 at the end of the regular season.
» Millard South 38-35 on a last-second field goal in the state semifinals.
» Omaha North 17-14 in the wildest closing two minutes ever in a Class A final.
Coach Fred Petito’s crew was the seventh undefeated champion in Class A since 1994, when the playoffs expanded to 16 teams and added a 13th game to the season. None of the others ever had more than two games decided by seven points or less.
Not since Omaha Creighton Prep in 1983 had a Class A champion won its semifinal and final games by fewer points than the pair of three-point wins by the Mustangs. Prep’s wins came by five points — 22-21 over Omaha Burke and 25-21 over Omaha Gross.
This was not new territory, though, for Isaac Aakre in becoming the first Millard North quarterback to win two state-title games.
Two years ago, the Mustangs escaped Burke in the semifinals with a 10-7 win and then trailed Millard South 17-0 and 20-7 in the championship game before winning 28-20.
“You knew exactly what you were getting with this bunch,” Petito said on the field after Monday night’s win. “It never was, ‘I hope this doesn’t happen, I wonder who’s going to show up tonight, I wonder how we’ll be.’
“These guys, they’re on.”
Omaha North, which took a 14-10 lead in the final two minutes, fell behind on Aakre’s touchdown pass to Clay Fisher and then made it to the Mustangs 15-yard line before missing a game-tying field goal, takes the No. 2 spot over Millard South in the final ratings.
It’s the highest finish for the Vikings (10-3) since their last undefeated team (8-0-2) in 1967 tied for second. North’s only state ratings title was with its undefeated 1956 team.
Two of Millard South’s three losses were to Millard North by a total of five points — better than North’s nine. But Millard South’s other loss was 42-25 to Omaha Westside, while North’s other loss was 15-14 to Omaha Burke — which beat Westside in the playoffs.
Lincoln Southeast and Millard West finish ahead of the other semifinalist, Omaha Creighton Prep, based on head-to-head results. All teams in the final Top 10 are from Class A.
Class B champion Omaha Gross, which edged Norris 14-7 in the final, also has its first ratings title. The Cougars were second to Lexington in Class B in 1972, when both teams were undefeated, and second in Class A in 1983 after the title-game loss to Prep.
Norfolk Catholic is the first to be atop Class C-1 for three consecutive years. The Knights defeated Boone Central/Newman Grove 28-13 in the final.
David City Aquinas was the only wire-to-wire leader in the seven classes. The Monarchs retained Class C-2 honors with a 35-20 win over Sutton. The Mustangs (12-1) finish third behind Norfolk Lutheran Northeast. The Eagles took Aquinas to overtime in the semifinals as they kept the No. 2 rating that they received in the preseason.
Elgin/Pope John repeated in Eight Man-1 on a 40-14 win over Exeter-Milligan. Giltner claimed its third ratings title, following those in 1971 and 1984, by defeating No. 2 Humphrey St. Francis 42-26 in Eight Man-2.
Wauneta-Palisade, in Six Man for the first time, is No. 1 after winning the league’s playoff series.
Shrine Bowl: University of Nebraska at Kearney’s Cope Stadium is the all-star game’s new home for 2013 and 2014 after NCAA rules changes prohibited the Shriners from keeping the game at Memorial Stadium. The game will be at 2 p.m. on June 1.
Head coaches will be Mike Johnson of Waverly for the North team and Bill Carlin of Adams Central for the South.
North assistants are head coaches Steven Gubbels of Arlington, Chris Nizzi of Prep and Joe Benson of Scottsbluff and assistants John Bacus of Elkhorn and Seth Styskal of Waverly. South assistants are head coaches Craig Schnitzler of Kenesaw, Brett Froendt of Omaha Westside and David Colling of Kearney Catholic and assistants Shawn Mulligan of Adams Central and Dave Leader of Lincoln Southeast.
Nominations due: Coaches who haven’t returned their all-state football nomination forms are reminded that Monday is the deadline. Also due are winter sports preview forms.
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