Redemption for the Antlers

The Antlers show they're still one of the top Class B teams after defeating #1 Waverly.

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Lindsey Mulder

Aiden Young gives a speech of victory after the game.

Patton Engel, STRIV Editor

The Elkhorn Antlers came out to play Thursday for a highly anticipated game against the Waverly Vikings. After the cancellation of the Creighton Prep and Bellevue West game, the Antlers found themselves on the Thursday Night Lights held by KXVO, and the game was worth it. It was a tough, hard earned victory for the Antlers that sends them back into contention for the number one team in Class B.

It was a cold and misty night as the #1 Vikings faced against the #5 Antlers. The Antlers homecoming game started off, and the tone was set that this was going to be a defensive battle. The first offensive drive started off well for the Antlers, but as they entered the redzone they were unable to capitalize and capped the drive off with a missed field goal. Elkhorn’s third drive seemed like it would have a different outcome after a big run from Aiden Young, but the Antlers were stuffed in the redzone once more and missed another field goal. The players finally seemed like they were going to get the ball rolling with a touchdown in the first half, but this would end up being called back on a blocking penalty.

The Vikings found similar success in the first half. Both teams aggressive defense proved to be too much for either offense to handle. 7 offensive possessions for the Vikings and 6 for the Antlers combined for a whopping zero points as the first half came to a close. The Vikings run-heavy offense was held to just 66 yards on 21 attempts in the first half, while the Antlers saw their offense hit with 12 plays that lost yardage, many coming in the redzone. Both teams went into halftime looking to find a way to put points on the board in the second half.

The second half was a fresh start for the Antlers, but it didn’t seem that way in the beginning. The Antlers opening drive of the second half saw two plays lose yardage and a holding penalty give them a 3rd and 29. However, a pass interference gave the Antlers a more manageable 3rd and 14, and from there Antler quarterback Grant Gutschow would find tight end, Drew Christo for a 46 yard gain. The Antlers continued marching and capped their 13 play drive off with a 18 yard pass to Gannon Gragert in the back of the end zone to earn the 7-0 lead. The Vikings didn’t go out so easily though. After the five minute drive from the Antlers, the Vikings would respond with a seven minute drive compiled of 15 plays to even the score 7-7.

The Antlers didn’t get down on themselves however. Junior running back Hank Kroger lead the drive with a 51 yard run and Hayden Stec finished it with a one yard run to take the 13-7 lead after the missed PAT. Waverly and Elkhorn’s next offensive drives would result in three and outs, giving Waverly one last chance. Waverly seemed like they were building a strong drive, but faltered at the end after two first downs. A 34 yard pass to Christo on 3rd and 10 secured the game for the Antlers and allowed them to run out the clock.

Though a low scoring game, Elkhorn saw some players step up in major ways. On the offensive side, Aiden Young had 124 yards on 22 touches, Hayden Stec had 19 yards and a touchdown on five touches, Grant Gutschow had 235 yards passing on 12 of 22 passing, Drew Christo had 6 receptions for 105 yards, Gannon Gragert had 2 receptions for 36 yards and a touchdown, and Hank Kroger had two carries for 53 yards. Defensively, Mikey Hart, Isaac Robinson, and Drew Christo led the way with 13, 7, and 9 tackles respectively, as well as a forced fumble from Christo.

The Antlers are now 2-1 and back into contention for the number one ranking of all Class B teams in Nebraska. Elkhorn has done a great job of putting any doubts to rest after a disappointing loss in game one. Now the focus is on Blair as Elkhorn travels out to face them this Friday, September 18th.

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