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Jaguars return to Lincoln after semifinal win over Central Valley

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Lance Brester

Howells-Dodge tailback Lance Brester runs into the end zone on Oct. 28 against South Loup in Howells. Brester scored five touchdowns in Friday's state semifinal win over Central Valley.

Howells-Dodge secured its second straight state championship appearance Friday with a 50-12 win over Central Valley in the NSAA Class D-2 state semifinals.

The Jaguars controlled the line of scrimmage, running the ball 44 times for 311 yards. Defensively, they limited the Cougars to 202 total yards.

"Offensively, we wanted to make sure we established the running game and the boys did a good job of adjusting to what Central Valley was doing on defense," Howells-Dodge head coach Mike Speirs said. "Defensively, we knew we had to be disciplined against Central Valley's option game and we felt the boys did an outstanding job of that."

Lance Brester spearheaded the Jags offense with 28 carries, 245 yards and four touchdowns. He also caught a 35-yard touchdown pass from Brittin Sindelar on the only Howells-Dodge passing play of the game.

Sindelar rushed for 44 yards and one touchdowns and Jestin Bayer entered the end zone on a rushing score.

"It is no secret that we are a tailback-oriented offense, so for Lance (Brester) to be able to get the production he did when the entire defense knows he will get the ball is a credit to him and the offense as a whole," Speirs said. "Lance did a good job of finding the creases in the defense and getting positive yards."

Defensively, Colton Klosen and Aiden Meyer led the team with 12 and 10 tackles, respectively. Each recovered a fumble and one tackle for loss.

Brester Bayer and Aandy Dominguez finished the night with seven tackles each. Howells-Dodge forced four fumbles with Connor Kreikemeier and Andre Martin recovering a fumble a each.

"As a whole, I thought our defense played very good. We had a few breakdowns, but were able to be aggressive and not let those mistakes multiply," Speirs said. "I thought our defense as a whole played great and Aiden (Meyer) and Colton (Klosen) tackled very well."

Colton Klosen

Jaguars junior Colton Klosen tackles Bobcats junior Cache Gracey on Oct. 28 in Howells. Klosen recorded 12 tackles and one fumble recovery in Friday's state semifinal win over Central Valley.

After winning the Class D-1 state championship last year, the Jaguars return to Memorial Stadium for the D-2 state title game at 10:15 a.m. Monday. They'll look to be the first eight-man team since Elgin Public/Pope John in 2011-12 to win back-to-back state titles.

"We are very proud of the boys in working to get to this point," Speirs said. The boys have been working hard to just be the best they can and to keep getting to play football, so that has been very satisfying as a coach to get to this point. We are just very proud of the boys for maximizing their time together."

Just like a year ago, Howells-Dodge will be featured in another No. 1 vs. No. 2 state championship game. The second-seeded Hitchcock County Falcons will make their first ever appearance in the state title game after falling in the semifinals last year.

The Falcons dominated this postseason, outscoring their opponents 230-6. In the semifinals, Hitchcock County defeated Bloomfield 48-0.

Howells-Dodge hasn't allowed more than 20 points in a game all season. Hitchcock County defeated South Loup 36-24 on Sept. 9. Since that game, the Falcons allowed a combined 20 points in nine games.

"We have watched a lot of film on Hitchcock County and they are a very solid team. They have good size in the lines and their skill players are very talented," Speirs said. "They will stress us on both sides of the ball and we have to match their physicality if we want to be successful in the game."

Sam Ficarro is a sports reporter with the Schuyler Sun. Reach him via email at SCHsports@lee.net.

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