Though the revenge factor was downplayed after Friday night’s game, Millard West’s 24-7 win over Omaha Burke had to be especially satisfying.
The Bulldogs defeated the Wildcats twice last season en route to the Class A championship, including a 35-28 victory in the state semifinal.
“We didn’t want to talk about revenge,” Millard West coach Kirk Peterson said. “And we know that (Burke coach) Paul Limongi isn’t going to bring the championship trophy over to us tonight.”
It was another dominating performance by the Wildcat defense, which opened the season with a shutout win over Millard North. The Bulldogs were held to seven points and 149 total yards.
Helping lead that effort in front of an estimated 5,000 at Buell Stadium was senior lineman Dane Christensen, who was in on several tackles.
“Our defense has been really good up front,” Peterson said. “We obviously did a better job against them than the last time we faced them.”
The Millard West victory snapped the Bulldogs’ 14-game winning streak dating to 2017.
The Wildcats scored the only points of the first quarter on a 36-yard field goal by Nasser Nabulsi. Millard West stretched the lead to 10-0 just before halftime on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Tristan Gomes to Kaedyn Odermann.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Bulldogs broke through early in the fourth. Quarterback Reid Burke hit Xavier Watts on a slant pass and the Notre Dame recruit took it 34 yards to the end zone.
Then came perhaps the biggest play of the game on the ensuing kickoff.
Odermann fielded the kick at the Millard West 20, raced up the middle before veering left and sprinted 80 yards for a touchdown.
“I knew if I took it up the middle my guys would have the blocks for me,” he said. “I saw the hole and I went for it.”
Peterson agreed that Odermann’s return was a big key to victory.
“That was a great answer from Kaedyn,” he said. “It helped us regain the momentum.”
The Wildcats’ defense held on Burke’s next possession and Millard West used a time-consuming march to put the game away. The 13-play drive ended with a Gomes 1-yard TD run with 1:12 left in the game.
Gomes, a Cal State Fullerton baseball recruit, carried seven times on the final drive. He rushed 23 times for 98 yards while teammate Ethan Valencia carried 10 times for 99 yards.
“I think last year’s game was in the back of our minds,” Gomes said. “But we’re both different teams, so it was more about this year.”
The victory will give seventh-ranked Millard West a boost in next week’s ratings. Burke entered this week ranked fourth.
“We put the past behind us and really did a nice job of focusing on this game,” Peterson said.
Omaha Burke (1-1)............0 0 0 7— 7
Millard West (2-0)..............3 7 0 14—24
MW: FG 36 Nasser Nabulsi
MW: Kaedyn Odermann 19 pass from Tristan Gomes (Nabulsi kick)
OB: Xavier Watts 34 pass from Reid Burke (Fredrick Marshall kick)
MW: Odermann 80 kickoff return (Nabulsi kick)
MW: Gomes 1 run (Nabulsi kick)
Rushing: OB, Tonio Clark 20-73, Reid Burke 7-minus-25, Xavier Watts 1-minus-5, Tyreece Wynne 3-minus-2, Canon Elle 1-3. MW, Ethan Valencia 10-99, Tristan Gomes 23-98, Dalys Beanum 1-0, Dan Sullivan 8-31.
Passing: OB, Burke 11-17-0 105. MW, Gomes 5-11-0 54.
Receiving: OB, Watts 8-86, David Moreano 2-15, Michael Payne 1-4. MW, Kaedyn Odermann 2-28, Beanum 2-20, Evan Meyersick 1-6.