LINCOLN — Why not us?

That’s what Pleasanton is asking heading into the program’s first state championship game. 

The Bulldogs meet top-ranked Humphrey St. Francis for the Eight Man-2 crown at 2:45 p.m. Monday at Memorial Stadium.

The Bulldogs have been to state in basketball many times, watched their girls play at state in volleyball and basketball. But this is a first for the football team.

“It will probably soak when we’re on our way and pull up to the stadium. ... We’ll understand what the boys truly accomplished,” Pleasanton coach Ricci Westland said. “They understand it but when you see Memorial Stadium and the stage is set for your team for that afternoon, that’s when it all becomes real.”

Humphrey St. Francis, meanwhile, hasn’t missed the state playoffs since 1994. The Flyers have won four state titles, most recently in 2015, and have been runner-up four times. That’s one reason St. Francis is a heavy favorite. But not the only one.

The Flyers are 12-0 and were the No. 1 seed coming out of the regular season. Pleasanton (10-2) was the seventh seed in the West bracket.

The Flyers have built around running back Taylor Wemhoff, who has rushed for nearly 1,500 yards and averages more than 8 yards per carry. Quarterback Trevor Pfeifer has rushed for more than 500 yards and passed for another 700.

Before its 24-16 win over Falls City Sacred Heart in the semifinal, St. Francis hadn’t scored less than 50 in a game.

“It’s outstanding tradition and pedigree,” Westland said.

Pleasanton’s offense has sputtered on occasion, including last week’s semifinal win over Overton when the Bulldogs had less than 70 yards of total offense. That puts Pleasanton in the underdog role, which it’s used to.

“What other team in the state has a chance to beat Humphrey St. Francis,” Westland asked. “Before the Overton game, I said, ‘You guys are here. Why not us? Why not you guys be the ones to go on and punch your ticket to Lincoln for the first time in school history?’”

Monday, the Bulldogs aim for one more school first.

“Try to do what we can, play together, put the best effort out on the field and see what happens,” Westland said.


Photos: Nebraska high school state football champions since 2004

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