(Johnson) -- Johnson-Brock will play for the Class D2 state championship on Monday morning in Lincoln at Memorial Stadium.
The Eagles (12-0) look for their first state championship in school history when they meet Mullen (12-0) at 10:15 AM.
Coach Mitch Roberts’ team has been fairly dominant on their way to the final, beating Pender (82-3), Allen (76-0) and Bloomfield (72-32) by wide margins before nabbing a 58-44 win over Humphrey St. Francis in the semifinal.
“I’m just really happy for our kids,” Coach Roberts said. “They’ve been working very hard for this. This is something you dream about when you’re little – to go play at Memorial Stadium. There’s no one more deserving than our kids.”
Johnson-Brock advanced to last year’s Class D1 quarterfinals and returned much of the their production to set the stage for this run.
“They put in a lot of hard work because we thought we’d have a pretty good team coming back,” Roberts said. “The kids were ready to get back to work. We’ve put ourselves in a great position.”
Roberts says he really started to believe his team was capable of making a deep run in week three when they beat an eventual state semifinalist in Lawrence-Nelson by a 66-14 count. From there, it’s been all Eagles all the time.
Their toughest test of the season came in the final week of the regular season when they were able to escape with a 52-46 win over perennial power Falls City Sacred Heart. They’ve passed every test with flying colors since then.
Monday’s test is top-seeded and undefeated Mullen. The Broncos bring a terrific power rushing game, led by senior Lane Edis, who has rushed for 2598 yards and 42 touchdowns on the season.
“They run the ball extremely well,” Roberts said. “They have a pretty good line and are pretty athletic. We’re going to have to play really well to come away with the win. It all starts with the running game – at least containing their running back from some big runs.”
The good news for Johnson-Brock is that they’ve seen some very good power running games during the course of their postseason run.
“I think that helps us tremendously,” Roberts added. “All through the playoffs we’ve seen those power run teams. Our guys are getting that same physicality and mentality going in on a week in week out basis. I think that will be to our advantage.”
The aspect that has set the Eagles apart from the rest is that they don’t just have a great running game or a great passing game. They have both.
Five different players have rushed for over 200 yards on the ground while senior quarterback Cole Fossenbarger has thrown for 2,640 yards and 52 touchdowns. His top receiver can be any one of four guys on a given day.
There’s junior Ty Hahn, who has 55 receptions for 1,049 yards and 22 touchdowns. There’s also Kaden Glynn – a sophomore with 35 receptions for 808 yards and 13 scores. And there’s senior Dylan Rowe, who has pulled in 31 catches for 539 yard sand eight scores. Even the younger Fossenbarger – a freshman, Caleb – has eight touchdowns on 14 receptions for 218 yards.
“We’re pretty fortunate to have the athletes that we have right now,” Roberts said. “They make things pretty easy. Our lineman always makes things go, and we’re pretty balanced. Recently, we’ve thrown the ball a little bit more than we’d like, but we can always get that run game going, too.”
Ryan Matheny (@ryanmatheny16) will have updates on Twitter during the Class D2 championship on Monday morning.