KEARNEY — Kearney Catholic started slow but had a bounce-back performance against Lincoln Christian on Friday in Lincoln.
The Stars overcame a seven-point halftime deficit to prevail 30-21 for their second victory of the season.
The Stars (2-1) have experienced mixed results through the first three weeks of the season. After an overwhelming victory against Broken Bow in their first game, the Stars had no answer in a Week 2 road contest against Aurora, who’s the defending Class C1 state champion but features a vastly different team this season.
On Friday, the Stars’ defense stepped up early in the second half to allow the offense to take control against Lincoln Christian. They outscored the Crusaders 23-7 in the second half and will try to carry that momentum into a matchup against undefeated Ogallala (3-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Kearney Catholic High School.
Here are three areas to watch in the Stars’ contest against Ogallala:
First half struggles
The Stars showed tremendous ability on offense against Broken Bow and jumped out to a 42-0 halftime lead. They haven’t recreated that production in their other two games, however, as Aurora and Lincoln Christian created challenges for the Stars.
Aurora scored 22 points on the Stars in the first quarter and stormed out to a 38-3 lead at the half. The margin was too significant for the Stars to overcome, as they lost 45-10.
In their Week 3 matchup, the Crusaders used a flex-bone offense and dominated the possession in the first half. The Crusaders limited the Stars to one possession in the first quarter, as they drained a significant amount of time off the clock throughout the first half. Despite the disparity in time of possession, the Stars only trailed 14-7 at halftime against the Crusaders.
Starting fast on offense has been the Stars’ focus all season. Accomplishing that goal while also being the more physical team against Ogallala are the Stars’ top priorities.
“We just have to do our assignments this week,” KCHS coach Rashawn Harvey said. “We are playing a different beat this week. We are going from playing the flex-bone to a spread offense. We have to do some things to get to the quarterback this week.”
Ogallala balanced attack
The Indians are averaging 272.7 passing yards and 209 rushing yards per game this season. They also are outscoring teams by an average margin of about 27 points per game.
Leading the Indians’ offensive attack is senior quarterback Clayton Murphy, who has passed for 795 passing yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception this season. He also is the Indians’ second-best rusher, accumulating 214 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries.
Senior running back Alex Patrick is leading the Indians with 224 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 23 carries.
This season, the Indians have victories over Holdrege (0-3), Valentine (2-1) and Broken Bow (1-2). They defeated Broken Bow 53-38 last week after being tied at halftime.
“Their offense runs through their quarterback,” Harvey said. “They have some good skill guys. All of those guys are threats, but everything goes through him.”
Last season’s game
The Stars defeated the Indians 43-26 in Ogallala last season. The Stars had 462 total yards of offense compared to Ogallala’s 345. Their success on offense even came without dynamic dual-threat quarterback Heinrich Haarberg playing a significant role. He split time with Kamden Schwartz last year but is the full-time starter this season and has the skills to pick apart opposing defenses through the passing game and with his feet.
Harvey has confidence in the Stars’ offense but said the defense has to play smart, fundamental football in order to limit Ogallala’s offensive attack.
“I think we played a pretty good game against them last year,” Harvey said. “We got the win, but what we can recognize is that this quarterback is a real deal quarterback to go against. If we stay stationary, he will have a good chance to pick us apart. We have to be great in the secondary this week.”