JEFF VAN PATTEN: Bearcats, No. 1 in our hearts

Scottsbluff football coach Jud Hall talks with Sabastian Harsh after the Class B state championship game on Monday, Nov. 25 at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson used to have this saying when he played football at the University of Miami that went, “I’m number 94 on the field, but Number 1 in your hearts.”

You can inject any jersey number from this year’s Scottsbluff Bearcats football team into that quote and you’d be right.

Over the last two seasons, this hard working group of young men have captured the hearts and minds of its community.

For photos highlighting Monday's game, scroll to the end of the story or click here.

That hard work culminated in the Bearcats reaching its second straight Class B state championship game on Monday, Nov. 25. Scottsbluff once again played Omaha Skutt, getting edged out 21-20.

The Bearcats never-give-up attitude was on full display in the championship game. They never gave up. They left it all on the field.

Down two touchdowns, they roared back behind two more scores by Sabastian Harsh. A failed two-point conversion proved to be the difference in the game. For those in doubt, I believe the two-point conversion attempt was the right call. When you have momentum on your side, you go for the win.

As evidenced in the title game, the Bearcats never give up on a play. It was evident in Harsh’s long punt on a botched snap in the title game. It was evident in Terrance Mokeac’s stripping the ball from the ball carrier while Jack Darnell recovered it. It was evident in Harsh’s interception.

It was on display earlier in the season as well. When Alliance seemed to complete a pass that was going to be an easy score, Jasiya DeOllos did his Deion Sanders impression and sprinted a long distance to pull down the ball carrier.

It was nothing new to DeOllos. He always seemed to come up with the big play the Bearcats needed at the moment even if his stats didn’t necessarily reflect the impact he had on the field.

Harsh’s impact was definitely felt, especially in the playoffs. In just the three games he played in the playoffs, Harsh accounted for a mind-boggling 16 touchdowns. He also added 737 rushing yards. Harsh left his imprint on the history books in these playoffs, too. His eight touchdowns against Norris are a Class B playoff record. Harsh would finish the season with 2,013 rushing yards on the season to lead Class B. He had 35 touchdowns on the ground for the season.

Harsh will have some big decisions to make in the coming months. He has several offers from colleges to extend his playing career including a preferred walk-on offer from the Huskers. I’m sure you will see other Bearcats playing on Saturdays next year as well.

Running back Jacob Krul formed a formidable 1-2 punch with Harsh. Krul ended the season in second place in rushing yards on the season with 1,571.

There are a lot of other immeasurables you won’t see in the stat column. None of the gaudy offensive stats would be possible without the work put in outside of the spotlight by the offensive line. The offensive line opened up the holes in the defense to allow Harsh and the other Bearcats to gain big yards.

Despite losing some key talent at the skill positions, the Bearcats have a bright future. They have two young, talented quarterbacks returning next year in Brett Hill and Jackson Ostdiek. Defensive playmakers Nick Maag and Evan Heggem will be back, as will Tony Mokeac.

Bearcats, you gave us, the community, plenty to be proud of on the football field. You give us more to be proud of off it. In addition to being great football players, you are also great people.

Coaches Jud Hall, Derek Deaver, Jeremiah Luber, Ben Treffer, Jake McLain and Trey Allison can all hold their heads high. You all helped raise a group of great young men. Many of whom you will see at Thanksgiving in the Valley, serving turkey and all of the sides that go with a traditional meal.

Thank you to the Bearcats for the memorable season. You represented the community well with your hard work ethic and resilience.

For those of you graduating and moving on, we wish you the best of luck. For those coming back, we look forward to seeing you on the field next year displaying your Bearcat Pride.

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Jeff Van Patten is the sports editor of the Star-Herald. Jeff can be reached by calling 308-632-9050 or emailing jeff.vanpatten@starherald.com.

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