Whoever doubted Class A’s No. 1 team before Friday won’t be doubting now.
Jay Ducker tied the Class A career touchdown record with 104. Zavier Betts’ 45th career touchdown reception broke the Class A all-time record. And Bellevue West got its most impressive win of a flawless season, a 48-0 thumping of No. 4 Omaha Burke.
The top-ranked Thunderbirds, who have outscored opponents by an average of 53.6-3.2, heard a lot of skeptics wondering if their weak schedule — West’s best win previously was 36-13 over No. 8 Elkhorn South — had adequately prepared them for the playoffs.
“We’re so tired of people trying to say that we didn’t play anybody good,” Betts said.
Said Bellevue West coach Michael Huffman: “We wanted to squash it.”
Huffman’s team had 27 first downs to Burke’s five and 498 total yards to Burke’s 135. Most impressive, they held Burke wideout Xavier Watts, a Notre Dame commit, to zero catches and one rush of minus-3 total yards.
Bellevue West’s star wideout Zavier Betts, meanwhile, produced the game’s biggest highlight.
Early in the second quarter, he jetted in motion and quarterback Nate Glantz flipped him the ball — a forward pass of just a few inches. Betts took it 87 yards down the Burke sideline for a 13-0 lead.
“Watts, I’m really good friends with him,” Glantz said. “I grew up with him. But this dude right here” — he pointed at Betts — “he’s going to Nebraska for a reason.”
At that moment, Betts was all smiles, dancing to “Taking Care of Business” over the stadium speakers. But if you looked closely, you could see the chip on the future Husker’s shoulder pad. Weak schedule?
“It hurts my heart,” Betts said.
Bellevue West hurt Burke’s pride worse, reaching 35 points three minutes after halftime and activating the running-clock rule. The defending Class A champs hadn’t lost since Week 2 against Millard West, but their offense was sloppy from the start.
Quarterback Reid Burke, the second-leading passer in Class A (behind Glantz), went 20 minutes before his first completion. As Huffman said, his defensive line is nasty. His linebackers run well. And his secondary double-teamed Watts constantly, an expression of respect.
“I think some teams try to be arrogant,” Huffman said. “The kid’s great, so why wouldn’t you make them beat you left-handed.”
Moments after the game, tears dripped from Watts’ cheeks as he hugged teammates and coaches. He knew his career would end this month. He didn’t see it coming like this.
“They were triple-teaming me, I couldn’t do anything tonight,” Watts said. “It was a pretty tough game.”
For all the hype about receivers, Ducker stuffed the stat sheet.
His 197 total yards and five touchdowns kept the Bellevue West fans rowdy and the student section busy. A few weeks ago, his peers crafted a sign counting down Ducker’s assault on the record book: “TDs until Jay Ducker breaks the state TD record.” Each time he scores, they cover a number with duct tape.
By the end Friday night, he stood at 104, tied with Calvin Strong and one behind Moses Bryant. Only “1” and “2” remained uncovered on the sign.
Ducker will get his chance to break the record next Friday in a 1-vs.-2 matchup against Millard West. Bellevue West hasn’t faced a team as good as Millard West, but the T-Birds see no reason to stop rolling now.
Ducker and his teammates have a motto: Whup and advance.
“We don’t like the word survive,” Ducker said. “It sounds too close.”
Omaha Burke (9-2)............. 0 0 0 0— 0
at Bellevue West (11-0)...... 6 21 8 13—48
BW: Jay Ducker 2 run (kick failed)
BW: Zavier Betts 87 pass from Nate Glantz (Cruz Jurado kick)
BW: Ducker 27 pass from Glantz (Jurado kick)
BW: Ducker 11 pass from Glantz (Jurado kick)
BW: Ducker 2 run (Glantz run)
BW: Ducker 18 run (Jurado kick)
BW: Wyatt Cooper 37 run (kick failed)
Rushing: OB, Tonio Clark 18-108, Xavier Watts 1-(minus 3), Jaylon Roussell 3-8, Reid Burke 3-(minus 5). BW, Jay Ducker 24-159, Keagen Johnson 1-(minus 3), Nate Glantz 4-33, Wyatt Cooper 5-50, LJ Richardson 2-15
Passing: OB, Reid Burke 5-17 19. BW, Nate Glantz 13-19 227, Evan Cleveland 1-1 17
Receiving: OB, Michael Payne 2-5, David Moreano 1-6, Tonio Clark 1-2, Aidan Queen 1-6. BW, Zavier Betts 4-111, Kaden Helms 1-17, Nate Sullivan 4-39, Keagen Johnson 3-39, Jay Ducker 2-38