Another starry night for Bellevue West. But this one, defense got in on the fun.
The likes of Jerome Houston, Jack McDonnell and Devin Mills backed up the usual playmakers — Jay Ducker, Zavier Betts, Keagan Johnson and Nate Glantz — and trampled Omaha North 57-6 Thursday night.
Houston, a blocked extra point and a rip-out fumble. McDonnell, a blocked punt and a fourth-down tackle late in the first half. Mills, two fumble returns, with the second completing the demoralizing of the Vikings.
“They played tremendous,’’ Ducker said of the defensive unit. “Six points. And that’s 35 points in eight games. That’s unreal.”
Bellevue West has had its defensive moments in the Mike Huffman era, notably the 43-6 win over Omaha North in the 2016 state final. But also ghastly games like those the past two years that came in the same Week 8 game as Thursday night — 73 points to Omaha Westside two years ago, 52 to the Vikings last year.
“We didn’t want to give (North) any points,’’ Huffman said. It partially explained, he said, why his first-line defense was still on the field in a 50-point game. Beyond the starters, there’s little depth available from the junior varsity.
McDonnell and Kier Kier are West’s inside linebackers. The defensive line — “I think it doesn’t get enough credit” — consists of TJ Griffin and David Shannon in the middle and Matt Thompson and Caden Camese on the outside.
“They’re big, so we’re able to withstand the big guys on the other team,’’ Huffman said. “We ask them to be selfless, get hands on, drive a yard deep and redirect to the ball. It keeps the linebackers clean.
“Jerome is a the Metro 110 (hurdles) champion. Devin is a great athlete at safety, and sometimes we play Keagan back there. And Cruz Jurado is a four-year starter.”
Meanwhile, Ducker’s four touchdowns — he ran for 198 yards on 21 carries — gave the Northern Illinois pledge a school-record 90 for his career. He’s eyeing the Class A record of 104 by North’s Calvin Strong and the 11-man record of 105 by Moses Bryant of Elkhorn South when the Storm were in Class B.
Class A passing leader Nate Glantz found some resistance from North on deep balls, so he started throwing shorter routes, and Johnson and Betts each scored on one. Johnson had a second touchdown, a 15-yard run, in the second quarter when West stretched its lead in the televised game from its Faiman Field from 7-6 to 31-6.
West showed it solved some first-half blocking issues against a North defense that showed a few new twists by popping Ducker for a 42-yard touchdown on its first snap of the third quarter for a 38-6 lead.
Betts, a Nebraska pledge, had five catches for 69 yards. His highlight-reel play was taking a bubble screen 15 yards to turn on the running clock midway through the final quarter.
North (3-5) must beat Bellevue East (2-6) next week to return to the playoffs. Bellevue West faces Omaha Central, which is 3-5 heading into Friday’s game with Omaha South, to stay in the running for the No. 2 playoff seed.
Omaha North (3-5)................6 0 0 0— 6
At Bellevue West (8-0)..........7 24 14 12—57
BW: Jay Ducker 2 run (Cruz Jurado kick)
ON: La’Vaughn Luellen 1 run (kick blocked)
BW: Ducker 25 run (Jurado kick)
BW: FG Jurado 35
BW: Keagan Johnson 7 pass from Nate Glantz (Jurado kick)
BW: Johnson 15 run (Jurado kick)
BW: Ducker 42 run (Jurado kick)
BW: Betts 13 pass from Glantz (Jurado kick)
BW: Ducker 1 run (kick failed)
BW: Devin Mills 40 fumble return (PAT failed)
Rushing: ON, Tre’on Fiargood-Jones 9-60, D’Anthony Cribbs 1-19, Isaiah Tucker 4-17, Luellen 7-14, Keshaun Williams 1-1, Sam Scott 6-4, Darius Hagen 3-(minus 21). BW, Ducker 21-198, Glantz 9-60, Johnson 2-27, Wyatt Cooper 3-7, Evan Cleveland 1-2.
Passing: ON, Hagan 9-24-0 183. Glantz 15-24-0 145.
Receiving: ON, Marques Sigel 3-49, Williams 1-35, Fairgood-Jones 1-46, Carter Martin 1-23, John Farmer 1-13, unknown 1-11, Jaiden Long 1-6. BW, Betts 5-69, Johnson 4-39, Nate Sullivan 3-30, Ducker 3-2.