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11/24/2012 - From The Press Box: Norris' Great Football Run, Looking Ahead To Basketball

Jeff Motz

Call it a great run, literally.

The famed Maryland "I" offense executed by the Norris football team allowed them to run over opponents and to a spot in the Class B state football championship game, only to come up short in what has been declared as a memorable season.

The Titans (10-3) were playing in their second championship game in school history under the playoff format.  Their first appearance was in 1979, when they won the Class B title over Plattsmouth 20-19 and Lennie Hoover was the starting quarterback.

This year, much different than it was 33 years ago, the stage was set at Memorial Stadium/Tom Osborne Field, with it's glitz and glam of College Football Americana and Nebraska football players such as Taylor Martinez and Ron Kellogg III in attendence watching Norris take on once-beaten Omaha Gross.

The tale of the game was defense, but it was Gross who won out in the end, capturing that school's first football title.  Needless to say, it was a bittersweet ending for Norris, who worked so hard to keep the dream season alive.

Jim Jacobsen has turned a program around in just three years and next year looks to be just as competitive and exciting as this year.  The goal has been set and now it's time to work on it over the next nine months before kickoff of the 2013 season. 

To the Norris players, coaches, fans, parents, faculty and student body, I say thank you for the hospitality shown to me and other members of the media during the season and playoff run.  The school spirit demonstrated is what should be used as a template at many other schools across the state.  Best of luck to you next season.

To the rest of the Lincoln area football teams, I say thank you for the great competition you demonstrated on the field this year.

Lincoln football showcased great talent this year.  Najee Jackson, Devin Washington, Devonte Madlock, Desmond Robinson and DJ Foster at Southeast; Josh Banderas, Jordan Brown and Christian LaCouture at Southwest; Austin Rose, Noah Houch, Brook Bolles, and Maurice Moore at North Star; Brandon Wallman, Dalton Hegeholz and Jake Wells at Northeast; Mason Tyrell at East; Payton Helmstadter at Lincoln High; Leighton Chicoine and Ben Plambeck at Lincoln Christian; Jaret Polivka at Parkview Christian; Dylan Schlamann at Waverly; Micah and Marshal Oetting at Lincoln Lutheran; Jakson Reetz and James Kruger at Norris; and Tom Schneider at Pius X are just some of the names we mentioned through the course of the season.

The Road To Devaney starts Thursday

Our journey along the road to the Bob Devaney Sports Center begins Thursday night with a boys and girls doubleheader featuring Waverly at Pius X.  Believe it or not, this will be the final state championship setting to be played at Devaney before moving to the new Pinnacle Bank Arena next season. 

The first event ever held at the Devaney Center was the 1976 Boys State Basketball tournament, with Class A playing the entire tournament there, while others played quarterfinal and semifinal games at the old NU Coliseum and Pershing Auditorium.  The "A" section bleacher seats were not installed yet and generic lines had to be drawn on the court to play the tournament. 

The first sellouts ever were Lincoln Northeast vs. Hastings in the Class A quarterfinal and Northeast vs. Omaha Creighton Prep in the semifinals the next night.  Prep, behind all-state center Ted Parks and guard Chris Salerno, defeated legendary Mike McGee and Omaha North 48-44 to win the Class A title.  Aurora edged Holdrege 53-52 in Class B, while Geneva claimed the Class C crown and Nelson won the "D" championship.

1975-1976 Omaha Creighton Prep Class A Boys State Championship Basketball Team

(Creighton Prep's 1976 basketball team was the first to win a Class A title at the brand new Nebraska Sports Center, later named Bob Devaney Sports Center in 1978.)

East was the first Lincoln team to win the inaugural girls Class A basketball title in 1977, while the Spartan boys were the first capital city team to win a state title at Devaney in 1978, along with being the first wild-card team to claim the top prize.

Norfolk was the first non-Omaha and Lincoln team to win the Class A boys state basketball title at Devaney in 1987.  Columbus did it in the old Coliseum in 1972.

Lincoln Northeast, Wahoo, Clearwater and Falls City Sacred Heart are the only boys schools to win four state titles in a row at Devaney, while Omaha Central has claimed three in a row, two separate times.  South Sioux City girls also lay claim to great state championship runs inside "The Bob."

Let's make this final season of Championship Saturdays at Devaney worthwhile to remember!  Onward we go!
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