Sidney Title Hopes Slip Away with Loss to Wahoo
Red Raiders End Season With 10-2 Record, Play-Off Win
November 16, 2023
WAHOO-- A season to remember came to a close Friday afternoon as the Wahoo Warriors defeated the Sidney Red Raiders 21-to-0 in the semi-final round of the NSAA Class C1 Football play offs. The Red Raiders end their season with a 10-and-2 record, and a 3-and-1 record in C1 District 7, earning them second place in the district. The team improved from last year's 5-and-4 mark and third place finish in C1-7, mainly on the improved play of their offensive line and passing attack.
Friday's semi-final matchup with Wahoo brought out a large and loud contingent of Red Raider supporters that made the five and a half hour drive across the state. Even as the game started, there were clearly more Sidney fans than Wahoo fans in the bleachers. Sidney was well-represented as the Sidney Band, Cheerleaders and Danz Team were all in attendance for the game. It was Sidney's first semi-final game since 1993, and it seemed that half of Sidney was there to make sure they didn't miss the action.
Sidney won the opening coin-toss and elected to defer and get the ball first in the second half. Although the weather was perfect, with just a slight chill in the air and practically no wind, the field was surprisingly wet, but only in certain areas of the field. In pre-game warm ups, the Sidney boys seemed to slip quite a bit while running pass routes, and this continued into the game. It was a curious condition that the field was wet, especially from the hash marks to the sidelines, as looking at the past week's weather in the area showed no rainfall of note.
Wahoo took the opening kickoff and had a good return, bringing the ball up near mid field at the 47 yard line. On their second play from scrimmage, sophomore quarterback Jase Kaminski connected with senior Sam Edmonds for a completion down to the Sidney 22 yard line. A few plays later, Kaminski connected with senior wide receiver Josh Edmonds for a 12 yard touchdown pass, and after a successful point after kick, the Warriors were up 7-to-0.
Sidney started their first drive from their own nine yard line, and after a long pass to junior Landon Riddle was called back due to a Sidney penalty, the Raiders were forced to punt. A holding penalty on Sidney forced a re-kick, and Wahoo then started their second drive on Sidney's 49 yard line. Throughout the first half, neither team could generate much offense, with Sidney's defense holding down the Wahoo attack and the Raiders not doing much better, with many of their running plays stymied by Isak Doty and Luke Holly slipping on the wet turf when trying to make cuts, especially around the edges. As the first half wound down, Wahoo had a drive going, but then failed to convert on a fourth down pass that had their receiver and junior Reid Fiscus get tangled up going for the ball. Sidney responded with a drive where Luke Holly had a few good runs, but the Raiders turned the ball over on downs when they could not convert on a fourth down and three attempt. Wahoo had the last drive of the half, getting down to the Red Raider 19 yard line when they ran out of time. The first half ended with Sidney down just 7-to-0, having withstood Wahoo's best shots, and the Red Raiders receiving the kick to open the second half.
Sidney started the second half with the ball on their own 17 yard line. Three straight running plays earned Sidney a first down, before Luke Holly was finally able to break through the Warriors' line and linebackers, running deep into their secondary for about 30 yards, down to the Wahoo 29 yard line. The drive stalled, and a fourth down and four pass fell incomplete. Wahoo followed with their own drive, gaining a first down. Moments later, senior McGuire Rolls burst through the line on a second and four yards to gain play, tackling the Wahoo runner in the backfield. Sidney held on third down, forcing a punt by the Warriors which resulted in a touchback. Sidney started their next drive on the 20 yard line, but literally could not gain any traction on the wet field, and punted again. Isak Doty punted, and his line drive kick was returned to the Sidney 25 yard line where senior Landon Hanes hit the returner hard, eliciting gasps from those watching on the sidelines.
Wahoo started their drive from the 25, and had two false start penalties in a row. On third down and 18, Kaminski connected on a 17 yard pass. On fourth down and one, the Warriors ran for six yards to keep their drive going. They got down to the five yard line and junior Noah Bordovsky ran the ball over the right tackle for a touchdown, and a good extra point kick moved the Wahoo lead to 14-to-0. Sidney avoided disaster on the ensuing kick off when freshman Rhys Dorsey fumbled the ball, but Landon Riddle was there to fall on it, keeping it in Sidney's possession. On Sidney's first play, Doty slipped and lost a yard. Doty then ran up the middle for two yards, and on third down Doty went back to pass and slipped down again when he tried to scramble. Sidney was again forced to punt the ball, and the kick had the Warriors start their next drive on their own 34 yard line. Wahoo was able to gain one first down on their next drive, before the Sidney defense stiffened and forced a punt on fourth down and two yards to gain. The kick placement was excellent, pinning the Red Raiders on their own five yard line to start the drive. With a little over five minutes left in the game, Sidney had to hurry to get a score. On first down, Doty ran for three yards, followed by a second down run up the middle, stopped for no gain. On third down, Doty dropped back to pass, then slipped down again, ending the play in a loss of seven yards. Sidney was forced to try to convert on fourth down, and Doty rolled out to his right to pass. With nobody open down field, Doty tried a flare pass to junior Patrick McCartney, but Wahoo senior Barrett Lavaley was trailing the play and jumped the route, intercepting the ball and turning upfield for an easy touchdown. The good extra point kick moved the score to 21-to-0, and with a little over four minutes to play, Sidney had run out of time. The game ended shortly thereafter with a final score of 21-to-0 in favor of Wahoo.
This game was much closer than the final score indicated, but Sidney's inability to muster any big plays was the difference in the game. Although Wahoo's defense played well, Sidney was unable to capitalize on their over-pursuit of Sidney running backs due to the slippery conditions, making cutbacks and counter-plays practically impossible. It seemed that the Wahoo players had no trouble with the field conditions, however a field that wet, when there was no rain at all in the area for at least a week prior to the game, raised suspicions. Doty completed just 3 of 16 passes for 45 yards on the day, and had two interceptions. He rushed 14 times for only 5 yards. Luke Holly rushed 14 times for 75 yards.
The Sidney team and coaches poured their hearts out in this game, only to have their opportunity for a state title slip away. It was a humbling end to a season for Isak Doty and Luke Holly, as the seniors who had broken open so many big plays all year long could not keep their feet under them, and were unable to get into the end zone. However, even with the defeat, the Red Raiders could hold their heads up on a season that will be remembered for many years to come. Victories over Cozad, McCook and Gothenburg were all highlights, and the playoff win over defending state champion Pierce was a great achievement. The Red Raiders will have to go back to the drawing board next season, as they will lose a big part of their offense with Isak Doty and Luke Holly graduating, but the team is stocked with talent and coach Smith and his assistants will find a way to get the best out of their players next year. Best believe if Sidney gets another opportunity to play for a title, they will not let it slip away again.