Last year’s Class A State Championship game left a sour taste in both Omaha Westside and Gretna’s mouths. While the Dragons were victorious in a 7-3 game, the title was later vacated due to them having an ineligible player. Both teams fought hard all season to get back to the championship game, and it did not disappoint.
The one-seeded Omaha Westside Warriors defeated the two-seeded Gretna Dragons 43-41 after senior kicker Tristan Alvano hit a 45-yard field goal as time expired. This game featured everything a football fan could desire and will not be forgotten soon.
Westside started the game strong, going 61 yards in five plays on their first drive. Junior quarterback Anthony Rezac topped off the drive with a 31-yard rushing touchdown.
Gretna answered back right away with a 52-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Zane Flores to senior wide receiver Tyson Boganowski. The three play, 80-yard drive tied the game 7-7.
Westside was able to score again on their second drive. After a 27-yard completion from Rezac to junior tight end Trevor Spady got Westside to the five-yard line, junior running back Jahmez Ross was able to punch it in to give the Warriors a 14-7 lead.
Westside’s defense was able to force a massive turnover as junior defensive back Caleb Benning picked off Flores and took it all the way to the four-yard line. Benning was playing in his first game since suffering an injury in week three of the regular reason, but he looked like he had not missed a stride.
“It’s been super, super, super hard to watch my guys on the sideline,” Benning said. “With the way they battled, I knew I couldn’t let them down.”
Anthony Rezac was then able to connect with his brother, junior receiver Teddy Rezac for a 6-yard touchdown to extend the Warriors lead to 14. This meant a lot for the brothers to share a moment on the big stage.
“I know we’re going to be talking about that for years, like when we’re thirty at Thanksgiving dinner,” Teddy said.
It only took Gretna one play to cut the lead back to 7 as Flores found senior receiver Blayke Moore open for an 80-yard touchdown. The Warriors responded with a deep shot of their own as Rezac hit the sophomore receiver Keynan Cotton in stride for a 64-yard touchdown to bring the Warrior lead to 28-14.
Benning ended the wild first quarter in style as he picked off Flores for a second time. The Warriors were ready for whatever the Gretna offense had planned.
“Coach Limongi has been around for a long time, and he said this was the best week of preparation he’s ever been around,” Benning said. “So, we had no doubt that we could make some plays.”
The offenses cooled down in the second quarter after Alvano hit a 44-yard field goal to give the Warriors a 31-14 lead. Gretna was able to establish a productive drive to end the half, ending with Flores finding a wide open senior tight end Ethan Stuhr for a two-yard touchdown. Westside headed into the locker room with a 31-21 lead.
Gretna began the second half with solid drive, but it ended in frustration with Dragon’s receivers dropping three straight catchable balls that would have resulted in touchdowns. Westside capitalized off of Gretna’s mistake with another deep field goal from Alvano, this time from 50 yards out.
Gretna then marched the ball down the field in a drive that was capped off with Flores fighting his way into the endzone from seven yards out. However, a blocked extra point kept the Westside lead at seven.
After being backed up on a 3rd and 21, a 38-yard pass to senior running back Curt Cubrich kept the Warriors drive alive which resulted in Alvano converting on his third field goal on the night, this one from 26-yards out. Westside forced Gretna to go three-and-out their next possession and tacked on a 42 yard field goal to extend their lead to 13.
It was near desperation time for the Dragons which led to Flores throwing his third interception of the game to senior defensive back Ty Keifer. However, a Westside three-and-out gave Gretna the ball back. Two costly penalties by the Warriors kept the Dragons hopes alive with junior running back Isaiah Weber scoring from four yards out.
Gretna forced another three-and-out to get the ball back with 2:32 left in the fourth and on second and three where Flores delivered a beautiful ball while being hit to Moore for a 56-yard gain. Weber ran it in from 14 yards out the next play and the extra point gave Gretna their first lead of the game 41-40.
This left Westside with 1:49 to win the game. They traveled all the way to the Gretna 27-yard line leaving it up to Alvano to attempt a 45-yard field goal with just four seconds left. Alvano drilled his NSAA State Playoff record fifth field goal and Westside emerged victorious in an all-time championship game.
“I was praying and didn’t even watch the field goal,” Teddy said. “We have one of the best kickers in the nation and I had faith in him.”
Rezac led the Warriors, completing 27 of his 36 passes for 337 yards and two touchdowns as well as rushing for 83 yards and a score. Benning had 14 catches for 103 yards as well as two interceptions.
Despite the three interceptions, Flores threw for 414 yards and three touchdowns. Boganowski and Moore each had over 100 yards receiving and a score.
This completes the revenge tour set out by the Warriors, who have now won their second title in the last three years.
“It feels great,” Benning said. “It’s been a long two years and we’ve been waiting for this.”