Tigers set to play in state semifinals for first time in 20 years
Hastings one win away from first championship appearance since 1994
HASTINGS, Neb. (KSNB) - The Hastings High football team will play in the state semifinals for the first time since 2000.
The Tigers (9-1) defeated Northwest last week in the quarterfinals 45-42 to keep their dream season alive. As the second seed in Class B, Hastings will play host to third seeded Elkhorn (9-2) at Lloyd Wilson Field Friday night with a trip to the state championship on the line.
To be able to play the game in front of their home fans means even more.
“We started out this season working our butts off to make it to the finals and we have that shot against a really good Elkhorn team, and we get to play them at home which is a really good feeling," Senior Quarterback Jarrett Synek said. "You probably get it once in a lifetime so it’s a great feeling for us.”
“I think it’s going to be a great atmosphere. Hopefully the kids kind of take that in,” Hastings Football Coach Charlie Shoemaker said. “To be able to host a semifinal game is a great opportunity. It’s a great reward for the body of work they’ve had all year long and they should be very proud of that.”
While the team is thrilled to be playing in this game, they’re focused on taking that next step and getting to the finals for the first time since 1994.
“Our kids had this goal all along, and for it to be here and the battle that we’ve had all year long to get here, the kids should be very proud,” Shoemaker said. “But obviously, as we’ve talked, they got some unfinished business and they’re ready to take care of it.”
The Tigers have dominated on both sides of the ball this season, averaging 38.9 points per game and allowing just 18.5 points per contest. Elkhorn should challenge both sides of the ball, but if Hastings can slow down their run game, they feel confident heading in.
“They’re a power running team and are going to try and control the clock. They have some big play ability as well, they have some players that can take it the distance. We’re going to have to be very good on defense and really tough - guys are going to have to step up and I think they’re ready for the challenge with that," Shoemaker said. "We feel real good offensively about the things we can expose on them, we just have to go out there and execute it.”
“If we stop the run and score the ball, we’re going to win. That’s just how I feel," Synek said. "If we make them throw, which they haven’t had to do very often this season, we’re going to win this game.”
The game is set to kickoff Friday night at 7 p.m.
Copyright 2020 KSNB. All rights reserved.