LINCOLN -- A perfect 13-0 season was the goal for the Sargent Bulldogs before and during the season. From one game to the next, the Bulldogs dominated their opponents with speed and physical play on both sides of the ball.
At 12-0, the Bulldogs had one final obstacle in the way of winning Sargent’s first state championship in three attempts. The Bulldogs, Class D2 runners-up in 2000 and 2005 were meeting Howells for the 2010 state championship.
Howells moved down to Class D2 from Class D1 where they have dominated the state playoffs for the past 10 years. In that 10 year span, Howells won eight Class D1 championships including the past two.
On this cold, November morning, it was the history and power of Howells that proved to be more than the Bulldogs could handle.
Howells received the opening kickoff and quickly rushed down the field using little time to score with a halfback pass play. The first drive by Howells was a showcase of what was in store for the Bulldogs on this morning.
Sargent gained control of the football after the Howells kickoff, a couple plays later, a dropped pitch rolled into the end zone where the Bulldogs recovered for a safety in favor of the Bobcats.
After the free kick by Sargent, Howells needed two plays and :37 to increase the lead to 16-0 after Trent Mastny bullied his way into the end zone from the 5-yard line. After forcing Sargent to punt, Mastny finished a 13 play, 69-yard drive for his second touchdown of the half from the 1-yard line.
With a 22-0 lead, Howells forced the Bulldogs to punt again after gaining just 12 yards in six plays. Howells overpowered the Sargent defense and drove 57 yards with Cory Brester exploding for a 1-yard score for their fourth touchdown of the half leading to a 30-0 advantage over the Bulldogs at halftime.
Sargent received the ball to start the second half. After picking up two first downs and moving the ball to the Howells 38-yard line, the Bulldogs were once again forced to punt. Horky produced a good kick which was downed by the Bulldogs at the Howells 3-yard line. Howells moved the ball to the 13-yard line then Howells quarterback Mitch Belina raced around the left end for a 67-yard score. Mastny added the 2-point run giving Howells a 38-0 lead.
With the running clock rule in effect, time was running out on the Bulldog’s season.
After another Sargent punt, Howells drove 54 yards for their final score. Brester scored from 6-yards away and Mastny added the 2-point run for a Howells 46-0 lead.
The two teams traded punts after 3-play drives. Howells sent in their reserve players allowing the Bobcat starters to begin their celebration on the sideline.
Sargent, after receiving the Howells punt, went 44 yards in three plays ending with a Tyke Kozeal 3-yard touchdown run. Kozeal added the kick for Sargents seventh point.
With about four minutes to play, Sargent relieved their starting players allowing the reserves to take some snaps on Tom Osborne Field.
Howells power and size overwhelmed the Bulldogs. For most of the game, Sargent was unable to break through the line as they were overmatched in size.
As the game concluded, the teams met at midfield to shake hands before lining up for the medal presentation.
After being awarded the runner-up medals, the Bulldogs were on the receiving end of the season’s final pass, the passing of the Class D2 State Runner-up Trophy.
Howells strength and size overwhelmed the Bulldogs through the first three quarters of play.
“We knew they were really big up front,” said Sargent’s Guy Fenske. “We didn’t score when we needed to and that really affected us.”
Also lost in the first half was Sargent’s leading rusher Jed Fenske. Fenske sat out of the semifinal game against Mullen and was ready to play against Howells.
“I felt about 90 percent healthy but then I got stepped on,” said Jed. “I am proud of our team and how they came together today and this season, we did not take anything for granted.”
Sargent head coach Mike Kozeal also commented on Fenske’s injury.
“I just wish people would of been able to see him play,” said Kozeal. “He is a special player, he is the real reason we’re fast.”
Coach Kozeal hopes that the Bulldogs will be back in Lincoln next year. Getting back to Lincoln is very possible as many key players return on offense and defense.
“Playing a bigger team like this shows us what we need to work on,” said Sargent’s Tanner Balfour. “We need to get in the weight room and we have a lot of young guys that will help on the line next year.”
“I am really proud of how our team worked all year,” said Coach Kozeal. “It was a fun year and we will work yard to make it back here.”
Score by Quarters
Sargent 0 0 0 7 - 7
Howells 16 14 8 8 - 46
HOW - T. Brester 6 yd pass from Mastny (Mastny run)
HOW - TEAM safety HOW - Mastny 5 yd run (run failed)
HOW - Mastny 1 yd run (run failed) HOW - C. Brester 1 yd run (Belina pass)
HOW - Belina 67 yd run (Mastny run)
HOW - C. Brester 6 yd run (Mastny run)
SAR - Kozeal 3 yd run (Kozeal kick)
Rushing: SAR - Kozeal 13-81, Viers 5-36, G. Fenske 13-19, J. Fenske 1-3, Pomplun 1-0. HOW - Mastny 26-181, C. Brester 10-64, Belina 4-63, Gooch 4-5, Coufal 1-4.
Passing: SAR - G. Fenske 3-9-54. HOW - Belina 2-3-28, Mastny 1-1-6.
Receiving: SAR - Williams 2-32, Kozeal 1-22. HOW - C. Brester 1-22, Schlautman 1-6, T. Brester 1-6