KEARNEY — With a win Friday in North Platte, Kearney High owns the A-3 District championship.
No sharing. No tie-breakers. No coin flips.
That will be the goal for the Bearcats (6-2, 3-0) when they take the field at 7 p.m. to face the Bulldogs (3-5, 2-1). Lincoln Southwest also has a 2-1 record.
“We have to beat North Platte or it would be a three-way tie. … Our goal is to be the outright district champion. We have to win this game to get the district title. That’s been our goal all season long,” Kearney High football coach Brandon Cool said.
What it means
A victory over the Bulldogs seals the district title for the Bearcats and gives Kearney a chance at a home game in the first round of the playoffs.
“There are about three or four games of interest we can’t control which will jockey certain teams in certain seeding positions,” Cool said. “Things would have to happen for us to get the opportunity to host.”
With a win, Kearney would likely land somewhere in the middle fo the playoff point standings, somewhere between eighth place, which is the last spot to earn a home game in the playoffs, and 10th place.
“Anytime we can play at Foster Field in the first round of playoffs that’s a huge advantage for our program as far as getting off on the right foot as far as a playoff perspective,” Cool said.
But there won’t be a home game for the Bearcats if North Platte wins on Friday.
Switching gears on defense
North Platte has won three games this season, all in the last three weeks.
In spite of the 3-5 record, the Bulldogs are averaging 26 points per game while running a double-wing, power/option, run-oriented offense.
“We’ve seen so many spread offenses in the last few weeks, North Platte poses different look for our defense,” Cool said.
The offense is designed to control the ball, move the chains and keep the ball away from the other team’s offense.
Cool said the key to disrupting the Bulldog offense will be to limit the yardage on first and second down so North Platte faces third-and-long, not second-and-short.
“We have to keep them in long-yardage situations,” he said.
Defense has been Kearney’s strength this year. The Bearcats have shut out half their opponents this year. Cool isn’t afraid to rely on that defense.
“That’s how you’re going to win district championships and games in playoffs,” he said.
Wrapping it up
The Bearcats have a successful season in the books.
The junior varsity went undefeated. The sophomore team went undefeated.
Now those players are contributing by helping prepare the varsity for the playoffs.
“In order to do that, we have to have great practices,” Cool said. “I like where we’re at from a practice perspective.”