On a windy and cold night, the Thunderbirds turned to star running back Jay Ducker to help guide their offense. Suffice to say, he answered the call in a big way.
Ducker finished with 235 yards on 22 carries and five touchdowns, four of which came in the second half. He also caught three passes for 37 yards. Ducker led the Thunderbirds to a 42-0 win over Lincoln East in the first round of the Class A state playoffs. His fifth touchdown of the night was the 100 of his career.
Bellevue West got off to a hot start after quarterback Nate Glantz found star receiver Zavier Betts for a 45 yard touchdown pitch and catch on their first drive of the game. The Lincoln East defense got some stops after that and the score was 7-0 after the first quarter. Bellevue West head coach Michael Huffman said this play was something they knew they wanted to try early.
“We came out and ran the ball out of trips so we could see what they were doing and then we waited and waited and hit it. He’s a great talent.”
The Bellevue West defense was able to force a couple of turnover on downs on Lincoln East in the second quarter after a couple of pass interference penalties put the Spartans in great field possession. Bellevue West accumulated 10 penalties for 103 yards on the night while Lincoln east had 3 penalties for 25 yards.
The Bellevue West defense has only given up 35 points in 10 games thus far and this was a focus for coach Huffman and his staff.
“It has been really important for our defense to not give up points. For years we’ve had a great offense and everyone wants to ridicule the defense” Huffman said.
“The kids just try hard and our coach, coach McVey, says protect the zero and it’s really, really important to us. They are going to fight.Bellevue West took a 14-0 lead into the half after a Jay Ducker touchdown out of the wildcat formation with 1:03 left in the first half.
The Thunderbirds came out of the half and wasted no time, scoring on their first possession. Ducker scored from six yards out to put the Thunderbirds up 21-0. All four Bellevue West touchdowns in the second half came from Ducker.
Ducker put the Thunderbirds up 28-0 with a 20 yard touchdown run with 5:58 left in the third quarter. His last two touchdowns came from 8 yards out and 31 yards out with just over a minute left in the game.Nate Glantz was 22-28 on the night for 252 yards and a touchdown. Keagan Johnson finished with eight catches for 87 yards and Zavier Betts finished with six catches for 86 yards and a touchdown.
On defense, Jack McDonnell finished with 7 tackles, a sack and an interception. Matt Thompson recorded six tackles and a sack.
Bellevue West will face the No.5 seed Omaha Burke next Friday in the second round. Coach Huffman said it should be a great game if years past say anything about the match up.
“We love playing Burke. We have played them multiple times since we have been here and it has been a one score game every single time. Three of the four times it was a one score game.”
When asked about keeping his team ready and focused, coach Huffman kept it short and sweet while also recognizing the talent Burke comes with.
“You don’t have to get us focused to play Burke High school. It’ll be fun.”