PLATTSMOUTH – The Viking football team rediscovered its winning formula as it stymied the Plattsmouth Blue Devils on its way to a 29-7 win on the road Friday night.
Waverly rebounded from its first loss of the season with a withering second half attack as its defense was suffocating and its offense found some points through the air.
The first half of the game was slow going.
Waverly was able to find the end zone on a 50-yard pass to senior receiver Barrett Skrobecki and convert a two-point try to make it 8-0 Vikings but that would be the only scoring in the first 24 minutes.
Skrobecki took a five-yard pass up the right sideline, bounced of a Blue Devil or two and sprinted past the rest for the opening score.
Head Coach Reed Manstedt said the reasons for the Vikings’ lack of offense in the first half were two-fold.
“First off, credit (Plattsmouth) defensively. They’re a very good run-stop defense, that’s what they do well,” Manstedt said. “We’re definitely a tough team to stop and in that first half we just kind of shot ourselves in the foot a few times and then just ran out of time there in the first half.”
Waverly’s powerful running attack might not have yielded rewards in the first half but the physical nature of the Vikings’ attack took its toll on the Blue Devils in the second half.
It what is becoming a welcome theme for the Waverly season, the Vikings got off to a dynamic start to the second half thanks to its stifling defense.
“Our defense got a good stop coming out of halftime and we were able to force them to have to punt,” Manstedt said.
That early stop gave the Vikings good field position from which to start.
The good field position yielded some results as senior quarterback Mason Nieman took a snap from 13 yards out went right then switched fields around the left side and slipped inside the pylon for another Viking touchdown.
A successful kick made it 15-0 in the third quarter.
Manstedt said that he won’t take the credit for the team’s success in the second half of games throughout the year.
“We come out very strong in the second half and that’s a testament to the kids,” Manstedt said. “Because I can assure you every head coach in the state gives their kids the same speech at halftime but it’s the kids that come out and get going.”
Plattsmouth would answer in the third quarter with its lone score of the game.
A 69-yard touchdown pass from Blue Devil quarterback Hunter Adkins to Andrew Rathman exposed the Vikings’ high-pressure, high risk/high reward defense.
The touchdown pass accounted for more than 60-percent of Plattsmouth’s 114 total yards on the night.
The Vikings’ defense was effective all night, holding the Blue Devils to only 33 yards rushing and did not allow Plattsmouth to convert a third down all night.
Manstedt credited senior nose guard Porter Burklund with disrupting the Plattsmouth running game all night.
“(Burklund) played his best football game of the year. He really did a phenomenal job of creating havoc in the backfield,” Manstedt said. “(Plattsmouth’s counter trey offense) takes some time to develop and anytime you get penetration it really screws up its timing.”
On the other side of the ball, the Vikings started finding the end zone as Waverly’s depth at the skill positions started to wear down the Plattsmouth defense.
Senior running back Ethan Kastens, one of four Vikings with 10 or more carries Friday night, took a handoff and followed the lead block of junior running back Evan Canoyer to the end zone to stretch the Waverly lead back to 15, 22-7.
Canoyer led all rushers with 68 yards on 10 carries in the game, followed by junior running back Zane Schawang’s 66 yards, Nieman’s 58 yards and Kasten’s 55.
Nieman also added three pass completions, two of those to Skrobecki for 78 yards and a 31-yard completion to senior receiever Noah Stoddard for the final score of the game.
Just outside the redzone, Nieman threw a high arcing ball to Stoddard who outjumped a Blue Devil defender for the highlight reel score.
Manstedt said that the Vikings’ heavy run attack should continue to open up opportunities for the Viking receivers in the pass game.
“Anytime you can run the ball effectively, it’s going to force teams to start loading up the box and that was one thing we took advantage of,” Manstedt said. “Our run game is going to open up our pass game and one of the great things in this game was we were able to get some of our play action stuff going.”
The Vikings’ 29-7 win pushes their record to 7-1 with one game remaining in the regular season.
Waverly will host the Ralston Rams, Friday Oct. 25 and will celebrate the team’s seniors in their final regular season home game.
The Vikings will almost assuredly host its opening round state playoff game as it sits at No. 3 in the NSAA’s playoff point standings in Class B.
Waverly also maintained its rating in the Omaha World-Herald prep football ratings at No. 3, trailing only undefeated Scottsbluff and Omaha Skutt.