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Harvard denied the chance of defending state title

Cardinals ruled ineligible for six-man postseason
Published: Aug. 29, 2020 at 8:25 PM CDT
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HARVARD, Neb. (KSNB) -Every team add player dreams of it. A state championship.

Harvard was able to accomplish it for the first time in school history in 2019, winning by an average of 26 points per game in their perfect 13-0 season.

This year the talent was there to think about a repeat.

“I definitely think we could be top two again, and for sure have a run at state again,” senior Ethan Piper said.

Unfortunately they wont get that chance.

“The NSAA has an enrollment limit and it’s based on your 9th-11th grade boys,” Harvard football coach Scott Trimble said. “We were over by three boys last fall.”

Meaning the team would be ineligible to compete in the 2020 six man postseason

“We’re in the situation where we had too many boys in school, but as you can see we only have 12 players,” Trimble said. “Obviously moving to eight-man was not an option for us.”

The cardinals are well below that enrollment number this year and will be back to competing for a title in 2021.

That doesn’t make this year’s situation any better though. It’s a very tough draw for senior standouts Ben Okraska and Piper, who are expected to be one of the best one-two punches in the state this season.

“In any sports season that’s your goal,” Okraska said. “Playoffs are just so much fun and you just want to live it all, but it is what it is.”

They knew heading into the playoffs last year that it would be all or nothing.

“We definitely kind of felt just like the seniors did where like, this is our last shot we have to go out and play as hard as we can,” Piper said. “At the end of the day we did it and it was great.”

Harvard has gone 40-4 in the past five seasons. That success has to do with culture. A winning culture, that these seniors are committed to continuing

“Their biggest goal was winning a state title last year because that was their shot,” Trimble said. “Now this year they’re just coming back and busting their butts and just trying to help our program continue to grow.”

“It’s definitely hard realizing that we can’t do playoffs or win a state title or anything, but at the end of the day I really want the kids later on to be able to have a shot at winning a state championship,” Piper said. “So I try to push them as hard as I can so they can have a good future too.”

Playoffs or not, the cardinals presence will still be felt on the gridiron every Friday night.

Copyright 2020 KSNB. All rights reserved.

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