A gale force blowout of Hartington-Newcastle at Dwight.
Playing on field turf in Shelby to defeat Nebraska Lutheran - for the second time.
A 100-mile drive to knock out previously undefeated top-seeded Creighton.
Avenging an opening game loss to Howells-Dodge on a special final night on the Dwight field. Then Memorial Stadium.
The 2017 East Butler Tiger football season was a long strange trip that ended Monday with a 36-14 pummeling of previously undefeated South Loup. The Tiger seniors and scrappy underclassmen, hungry and confident, generated memories of a lifetime as they took care of business.
Through it all, Tiger fans fueled the fire, hosting playoff pep rallies and a fire engine escort out of Brainard on Monday.
Some people might have been surprised at the two-loss team’s success. Not these fans.
“I wonder if anybody has done that, come through the number one team and the number two team, and beat another undefeated team,” said Duane Pierce, whose son, sophomore Austin Pierce, got a chance to play on the field turf at Memorial Stadium.
“It’s a big honor for them to be able to come here and come home with a championship,” he said. The seniors on the team were known for their calm demeanor and confidence. Setbacks didn’t rattle them.
“They never worried,” he said. “I think the Palmer game was an eye opener.”
He was referring to the muddy loss 6-0 to the Palmer Tigers, when the game was called because of stormy weather right after Palmer scored. The next week: 94 – 36 over High Plains.
On Monday, a couple thousand East Butler fans turned up the volume as the team dominated on the field. “Tiger Power!” and “We’re number 1!” echoed through the home of the Huskers.
It was a special experience for some who are new to East Butler, including Tie Hollandsworth, who recently transferred from Raymond Central to East Butler.
“It was fun to come here and see how everything is,” Tie said. “It’s been really cool. I’m happy I transferred.”
Tyler Havlovic, a 2016 East Butler graduate, was in the front row of the East Stadium. He admitted living the football dream vicariously through his brother, Trevor, an all-state linebacker as a junior who excelled again on both sides of the ball. Injuries had forced Tyler out of football after his sophomore year.
“It is unreal. I cannot believe this is happening,” Tyler said. “I love watching him. Too bad it’s over. I thought that our boys stuck together really well.”
While there were other teams with a lot of talent, East Butler may have outworked them, he said.
“They changed a lot during the season. They watched a lot of film. They really prepared for it,” he said. “The other teams are good. We had the big guys up front.”
Also in the stands was Ted Bohac, the father of standout quarterback Dalton Bohac. Ted was a junior and all-state linebacker on the Tigers’ 1989 championship team in Class D1. Dalton’s grandfather Marvin Bohac was there too.
“It felt good to be there. It’s a good one for the kids. A lot of people worry about the parents, but it’s for the kids,” Ted Bohac said.
He said 1989 Tiger teammates Ryan Komenda and Chad Aldrich were there and “there could have been more I’m not sure.” The Tigers defeated Davenport 52-40.
Ted Bohac was glad his son mentioned “playing for the community” when he was interviewed during the playoffs.
“It draws the community together. It’s a group effort. You’ve got the mothers doing things for the boys. And the dads always got advice,” he said.
After receiving their state championship trophy and gold medals, the team met briefly back in the locker room. Before they could get back out on the field, however, Tiger fans converged under the southeast tunnel. Jubilation echoed under the south stadium as families finally got their hugs.
Earlier, waiting to receive his gold medal from coach Shawn Biltoft, Trevor Havlovic summed up the experience.
“This is everything you dream for as a kid, really,” he said.