Lauren Dietrich, Editor-in-chief
It’s October 21st, a Thursday night, an away game for the Elkhorn South football team, but tonight is different. They are facing the biggest competitors they’ve had all season.
Loud senior boys, chests painted with jerseys, jumping up and down, lining the shaking fence right in front of the Gretna High football field. Cheerleaders striped in white, blue and gold skirts, cheer at the top of their lungs from the turf in front of them.
“Freshman! Freshman! Don’t be shy, stand and yell your battle cry!”
“V-I-C-T-O-R-Y, that’s our freshman battle cry!”
Followed by the infamous and much loved chant:
“This one’s over” clap clap clap clap clap “This one’s over” clap clap clap clap clap.
The Storm Cell doesn’t miss a game, and why would they? They have a lot to be proud of. The Storm varsity football team has been undefeated the past two seasons, winning isn’t anything new to them.
Tonight, they are facing the green dragons of Gretna High School, anything could happen.
The Storm secured the last two Class B state championship titles, and amidst the 2017 football season, the boys still haven’t lost a game.
“We are very confident, and rightfully so, I think. But we still take every game as a new challenge, we don’t want to overlook anyone,” senior receiver and safety Cade Pilkington said.
First quarter is over. The boys look up at the green and black score board and in gold glowing numbers, they are ahead, but not by as much as they have grown used to.
Pilkington played on the past two state championship teams and on varsity for the last three years. Like Pilkington, many seniors have been a part of varsity for several years now, however, new faces have emerged on the team in the form of underclassmen and even seniors.
“We have definitely had more talent this year than we’ve ever had before, and we’ve had a lot of guys step up that we didn’t know had that kind of talent,” Pilkington said.
The boys put everything they have into the game. Legs push further and further as fast as they can, and arms pump as quick as humanly possible. It’s halftime, the score is tied up, 7 all.
Despite the team’s success throughout the years, the boys haven’t let their victories go to their head.
“I do think it’s human nature to be satisfied when you’re successful. But I think our players have mental toughness; they’ve been able to overcome that, and I’m really impressed by that,” head coach Guy Rosenberg said.
The score is tied, but that is nothing to hold onto, there are two more quarters to go, the play is competitive, anything could happen.
Their success is nothing Rosenberg or players will be sorry about.
“I can’t control other people’s perceptions. So what we do is work hard and do things the right way, and let cards fall how they may,” Rosenberg said.
Third quarter rolls on, the dragons score a touchdown, their score moves up, and the Storms stays stagnant.
To Rosenberg and players alike, their success is nothing but a reward for the work they put in: practices five days a week, and training and speed camps all summer long.
“We make our practices harder than our games, so games come easy. We win our games at practice,” senior quarterback Cole Hanafan said.
Yet on Thursday Oct. 21, the boys faced something they haven’t had to deal with before: defeat.
Televised for all of Nebraska to see, the boys took a 24-14 loss against Gretna High School through harsh stadium lights. It was their first loss in nearly three seasons.
“It was weird because most of us haven’t lost a high school game before. It was good in a way because it was a wake up call and made everyone want to work harder,” Pilkington said.
The team agrees that this won’t stop them. They are now the number two seed for districts and the state championship, one being Gretna High school. The senior boys have been happy with their past victories.
However, two state championship titles isn’t enough for them; it is the team’s last year in Class B, and the seniors want to earn a third.
“We’re still going in to state expecting to go all the way. We expect to outplay everyone we go against,” Pilkington said.
The boys’ first loss may have been a shock, but it doesn’t affect the confidence the team carries in their abilities to compete at State.
“When you play people at state everyone comes to play so we will have to play really hard. You definitely leave a lot more on the field, because you know if you lose you are done for the season, especially as a senior you are done forever,” Pilkington said.
Still, the season isn’t done yet, and the boys still have a lot of preparing to do before the season is over. With underclassmen starting on the team as well, practice becomes a collaborative effort.
“Everybody is hungry to get better everyday, and although we do have a lot of talent, the coaches and players are all in agreement that we need to work hard, and that’s the only way we are going to be successful. We keep each other accountable to that,” Junior wide receiver and safety Cooper Jewett said.
The senior boys especially have been working hard this season, in order to leave a legacy. However, as their last year in Class B, the boys also want to prepare the underclassmen for their jump to Class A.
“I think they will do fine. I know a lot of people are worried about the jump to class A but we have a lot of younger guys that have gotten a lot of playing time. I don’t think we will be as dominant as we were in Class B, but we’ll be able to play with everyone,” Pilkington said.
The football has been in Class B since it’s opening in 2010, moving up a class is a change the boys are looking forward to.
“I think we’ll do fine, it will be at least a little more competitive. Even though we have Moses, the team isn’t based off single players, everyone has their job,” Jewett said.
Yet for now the boys aren’t worried about the future. They are just looking forward at what’s in front of them.
“For right now we’re just locked down on this season. And to me football is just football, and we are looking forward to the challenge,” Rosenberg said.
Everyone wants to take home the gold at least one more time, and undefeated or not, nothing is going to stop the team from putting in everything they have.
“We practice and prepare with a sense that we are just trying to beat ourselves, and just trying to get better, and not worrying about our opponents. That helps us going into state because we don’t really care who we are playing, we just play our football,” Jewett said. “If we just do the best that we can do, then there is no one in the state that can beat us right now.”