Recap: T-Birds win Class A State Football Championship


Gauret Stearns

Captains from Bellevue West and Omaha North meet on field at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln prior to kickoff.

Nathan Hawkins, Reporter

What Happened: On Monday Nov. 21, the Thunderbirds did something they’ve never done: they won the Class A Nebraska State Activities Association Football Championship. They achieved this by routing the previously undefeated Omaha North Vikings 43-6. The win for the Thunderbirds puts them at 13-0, ending their historic season with a perfect record.

By the Numbers: Another game, another record breaking night for Thunderbirds running back Jaylin Bradley. Bradley wrapped up his T-Bird football career by accounting for 247 rushing yards and 5 TD’s against the state’s best defense. Those five touchdowns gave him 50 rushing touchdowns on the season, which breaks the state record previously held by Todd Uhlir of Class-C Battle Creek High School who had 49 in 1992.

A lot of Bradley’s snaps came in the wildcat formation, as quarterback Joe Dolincheck was on a limited snap count due to a thumb injury. Even on those limited plays, Dolincheck excelled and had 168 yards and one touchdown on nine attempts. His primary target was junior Cedric Johnson, who had a season high 106 yards on 3 receptions, one of which resulted in a touchdown. The T-Bird defense were the outspoken heroes, as they allowed only one touchdown–a season low for the Vikings. The running game that is usually one of the Viking’s biggest strengths (averaging 339 yards per game), was held in check to only 186 yards. The linebacker corps was a huge part of that, as linebackers Diego Galvan had 11 tackles and Malec Roum had 12. Cornerback Kevin Ponec also had 11 tackles on the night.

Did you see that?: Up 36-6 with 2:02 left in the game, the Thunderbirds were knocking on the door for another touchdown. Dolincheck took the snap in the pistol formation from the 11 and handed it off to Jaylin Bradley. Bradley went between the left guard and left tackle and ran into the end zone untouched to put the T-Birds up 43-6. The touchdown not only put the nail in the coffin, but it was Bradley’s record-breaking 50th touchdown of the season. It was also the final of both the season and Bradley’s career, in which he has accounted for a total of 5,310 yards and 83 touchdowns.

They said it: In an interview with the NSAA after the game, a joyous Bellevue West Coach Michael Huffman talked about the championship.

“It really hasn’t sunk in yet,” said Huffman, “I’m proud of the kids. The way we went out and did business tonight both offensively and defensively– we couldn’t be more proud. We do pride ourselves on the weight room and the way we ran and hit tonight is a testament to those kids out there to hit the weight room and great things can happen. Have high expectations and work your butt off and great things can happen.”

Final Game: The win on Monday was the last time that 19 of the players will ever play in the purple and gold. The seniors who played their last game were: Kevin Ponec, Sylo Johnson, Christian Finn, Jaylin Bradley, Myles Ingram, Caleb Goetz, Brandon Butler, Micah Davis, Joel Savich, Diego Galvan, DeArch Stubblefield, Nate Frazier, Samuel Vanderslice, Drew Davidson, Tre Morris, Tyler Ciurej, Christian Hiltbrunner, Henry Farnan, and Malcolm Lee.