Football Quarterfinals Recap: Bellevue West advances to state semifinals, break records


Sarah Wederquist

Freshman wide receiver Zavier Betts outruns Millard West defenders.

Nathan Hawkins, Reporter

What Happened: On Friday, Nov. 5, the No. 2 seed Bellevue West Thunderbirds defeated the No. 7 seed Millard West Wildcats 63-42 in record-setting fashion. The Thunderbirds’ season remains intact as the win puts them at 11-0. The Wildcats’ season comes to an end at 8-3, as the loss eliminates them from the playoffs.

By the Numbers: In a historic night, Bellevue West totaled 775 yards of total offense in a game, which breaks Class A and Nebraska record of 680 yards, previously set by Millard North in 2005. Leading the way offensively was senior running back Jaylin Bradley. He had 496 yards on the ground, which shattered both the Class A record of 410 yards set by Northwest Huskies’ Antaries Daniels in 2010, and the Nebraska record of 474 yards set by Class C Trevor Nichelson of Ashland-Greenwood in 2016. Bradley now also holds the Class A record of rushing touchdowns in a game with seven, breaking the previous record of six that he tied with 11 other people earlier this season. Bradley wasn’t the only one who had a stellar offensive night, as T-Birds quarterback Joe Dolincheck threw for 247 yards and two touchdowns. His main target on the night was Sylvo Johnson, who had four catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns, including a hook and ladder play to end the first half. For Millard West, quarterback Giovanni Guido led the way, tossing for 263 yards and 3 touchdowns in the loss.

Did you see that?: With 8.3 seconds left in the first half, the Thunderbirds wanted to try one more play as Millard West had brought the score closer less than a minute earlier to 28-21. Dolincheck took the snap from the Bellevue West 44-yard line and threw it 15 yards up the field to wide receiver Caleb Goetz. Goetz caught the ball and was quickly hit hard by a Millard West defender. Before he hit the ground, however, Goetz tossed a beautiful pitch to fellow T-Bird wide receiver Sylvo Johnson, who caught it in stride and eluded defenders on his way for a 55-yard touchdown as the time expired. The hook and ladder worked to perfection and increased the Thunderbirds lead to 14 going into halftime.

They said it: In an interview with Nebraska HSFootball, Bellevue West Coach Michael Huffman praised Bradley’s contributions to the team. “We’ve kind of had the philosophy that we can’t give the ball to number 9 next year.” Huffman said, “We call him the Escalade, because we call our skill kids Cadillacs. He’s the Escalade and we’re going to ride in style and we’re going to go as far as he takes us. So it’s a pleasure to have him on our football team.”

Next up: On Friday, Nov. 11, Bellevue West will host No. 6 seed Creighton Prep in the semifinals of the NSAA Playoffs. Kickoff is at 7 p.m., and tickets are $7 for adults, $5 for students. No activity cards or passes are accepted, as this is a Nebraska State Activities Association event.