With the state championship berth on the line Friday, both Blue Valley and Blue Valley West respected and relished the chance of playing a rival.
The Tigers wanted redemption for a narrow loss to the Jaguars a few weeks before that their leader, Logan Brettell, took especially hard.
“He was pretty hard on himself,” Blue Valley coach Eric Driskell said. “But he’s a unbelievable competitor and the heart and soul of our offense.”
And Blue Valley, led by Brettell’s five touchdown passes, helped take home the 38-33 victory at Blue Valley District Activity Complex to move on to the state championship game.
“I’ve seen so many older guys go to state, but I’ve never experienced it myself,” Brettell said. I can hardly explain how it feels. The only thing I could think was that this is not going to happen again to us again.”
Blue Valley West did not waste any time, with senior quarterback Ryan Ralston connecting with Luke Curtis in the right corner of the end zone giving them an early 7-0 lead. Ralston then went on to scramble for a score later in the first quarter extending it to 14-0.
“We felt like we had taken a shot, but we got back into it,” Driskell said. “It was looking a little scary, but I’m proud of our kids resiliency.”
After that the Tigers settled down with Brettell hitting tight end Beau Bequeath for their first score of the game. Then on an improbable play, Brettell connected with wide receiver Mikey Henson for a 19 yard touchdown pass on a 4th-and-9 play, tying the game at 14-14.
Just as Blue Valley seemed to be gaining some momentum, the Jaguars grabbed the lead again. This time Ralston ran a play straight up the middle for 47 yards giving his team the 21-14 advantage.
The Tigers made a final drive before halftime when Brettell led his team back down the field that ended with a 12 yard pass to Chance Nelson to tie the game at 21.
Having a game with constant momentum swings made it difficult for Blue Valley to stay calm.
“You just try not to have a heart attack,” Driskell said. “They’re a great football team. We’re so evenly matched. We knew it was going to be 48 minutes. We just made some extra plays at the end.”
Blue Valley did not waste any time in the third quarter, taking the first drive down the field where Brettell connected with Frankie Gomez on a 5-yard pass for a 27-21 lead.
Blue Valley continued to move the ball well throughout the third quarter. Brettell even kicked in the field goal extending the lead to 30-21.
But BV West was not finished. Ralston eventually hit Cale McMakin who broke a few tackles and streaked down the sideline for 65 yards, bringing the Jaguars within two points. A field goal gave them the lead later in the fourth.
Once again the Tigers responded. Brettell‘s high, arcing throw hit Henson in the back of the end zone for the deciding score.
The Jaguars looked like they might be poised for another drive, but an interception by Ryan Cyr sealed the game for Blue Valley.
Now with the a state championship on the line next week, the Tigers will take the momentum for hopefully the most important trophy.
“The great part about this team is I don’t have to get them focused,” Brettell said. “We all want that one game we’re playing in. I could say all the motivational stuff, but I’ll just say, ‘Hey let’s go get the real prize.’”