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The Elkhorn Valley football squad cruised to its first win in over two years with a 56-0 shutout victory over Niobrara/Verdigre Friday evening.
“It feels really good, especially after the emotion that was spent in the loss to Elgin Public/Pope John (in week one),” said Elkhorn Valley coach Brendan Dittmer. “It feels good to have the emotion on the other end of it and feel what they (EPPJ) felt. It’s good to take the drama out of it, take care of business early and enjoy it.”
The Falcons scored early and often throughout the contest. After turning the ball over on downs in its opening drive, Elkhorn Valley scored on its next eight drives to claim a 54-0 lead.
"We had a real good prep and practice," stated Elkhorn Valley senior Brock Schaecher. "We did stuff we hadn't done before and we put in the hard work."
Josh McFarland and Brayden Ollendick were a potent 1-2 punch rushing for five combined touchdowns in the first half.
With under a minute remaining in the half, the Falcons drove 48 yards and ended the drive with a Ollendick scoring pass to Damien Knight to claim a 42-0 halftime advantage.
McFarland opened the third quarter with a 21-yard TD run and the Falcons followed up with a 56-yard Schaecher touchdown scamper.
After Elkhorn Valley turned the ball over in downs at Niobrara/Verdigre's one-yard line, Hunter Klinetobe broke through the line and tackled Trey Sucha in the end zone for a safety.
The Falcons ran out the clock for their first win under Dittmer.
"We haven't had this feeling in a long time," Schaecher said. "I knew coming into this season that these were a different set of boys that we haven't had in two and a half years. We had a good feeling coming into this game and we got it done."
A big key to the win was field position. All but four of Elkhorn Valley's drives started inside Cougar territory.
“Field position was huge in the first quarter,” Dittmer noted. “I told the guys jokingly that when we had the ball in the second quarter on the other end of the field, it is good to work on this because we hadn’t done it in a while. We had a methodical drive, but it was really good to have short field position and punch it in.”
The Falcon defense was stifling in the win, giving up just 60 of total offense and holding the Cougars to -9 yards rushing.
"We have been working a lot more of defense than we had," Schaecher said. "We used to split it up in days during the week, but this week we strongly worked on defense. We went over game plans, watched film, came up with a game plan and stuck with it tonight."
The offense was explosive for Elkhorn Valley, recording nearly 350 yards of total offense. Ollendick went 11 of 13 passing for 121 yards and a TD and also rushed for 69 yards and two scores. McFarland ran for 87 yards and four touchdowns, while Schaecher had 81 yards of total offense and a TD.
“It was really good to execute the way we did and still be able to spread the ball around so we could stay as balanced as we need to be,” Dittmer spoke.
Niobrara/Verdigre (0-3) has a bye week next week and travels Creighton Sept. 21.
Elkhorn Valley (1-1) hosts Osceola/High Plains Friday.
“We have a tough test ahead of us with Osceola/High Plains,” Dittmer concluded. “They are a really good consolidated team. Down the road, this is going to keep us motivated. The biggest thing moving forward is that our practices will have more purpose to them. Our practices early have had purpose to them and this is a different team than we’ve had in the past. All the credit goes to them.”