By BUCK MAHONEY
Hub Sports Editor
KEARNEY — Papillion-La Vista South got off to a rolling start, thumping Papillion-La Vista and Gretna.
Then the Titans got derailed by No. 1-ranked Bellevue West in their first road game of the year.
The Titans will hit the road again Friday when they travel to Kearney to face the Bearcats in a clash of two 2-1 teams.
Here are three things to watch in the 7 p.m. game at Foster Field:
Kearney, which has entered the Omaha World-Herald rankings at No. 10 in Class A, has shut out its last two opponents while putting 85 points on the board.
“We continue to improve. Right now we like the combination with how the defense is meshing with the offense and vice versa,” Kearney coach Brandon Cool said. “But I still think there’s another couple steps we can take in the improvement.”
Senior running back Miko Maessner continues to be the Bearcats’ primary offensive weapon, rushing for 131 yards per game. He’s scored six touchdowns — two more than the Kearney’s opponents have scored.
Through the air, quarterback Colin Murray has completed 22 of 48 passes for 344 yards.
Papillion-La Vista South will challenge the Bearcats with their passing game. Quarterback Connor Crandall has completed 36 of 56 passes for 439 yards. Receiver Landon Jewell has 16 catches for 199 yards. Six-foot-5 tight end Will Swanson has committed to Kansas State.
To balance the offense, running back Nick Sich is averaging 90.7 yards per game.
“They run a different offense than we’ve seen the last three weeks, and a different defense than we’ve seen last three weeks. So it’s going to be a challenge,” Cool said.
The Game Turns on Turnovers
The Norfolk game produced one area of success that made Cool ecstatic.
“We won the turnover battle 3-0. If you win the turnover battle you have a high percentage of winning a high school football game,” he said.
.Jackson Miller, Alex Schall and Will RIchter intercepted Norfolk passes to create the turnover advantage. They tacked on 92 return yards that added to the Bearcats’ domination of the Panthers.
Kearney defenders had one interception in the first two games, which required the offense to go the long way time and time again.
Cool said the interceptions came as a result of pressure by the pass rushers and positioning by those covering the receivers.
“We’re trying to get kids in position where they can be successful,” he said.
Back at home
Papillion-La Vista South is only the second team to make the trip to UNK’s Ron and Carol Cope Stadium at Foster Field. Grand Island visited Kearney for the season opener, but the Bearcats have been on the road since then.
Cool said his squad is looking forward to playing at home.
“It’s a great venue to play a high school football game,” Cool said. “It gives us the opportunity to get in front of our student body and our home crowd. ... Anytime you get tremendous support like we do, we try to make that an advantage.”