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Wolves end season with win over Red Cloud

HAYES CENTER, Neb. -- Grab a dictionary and find all the superlatives you can.

No matter what you come up with, it won't match the description of Bryar Gerlach's night.

 

Playing in his final game as a Maywood/Hayes Center Wolf, Gerlach ran for 271 yards and seven touchdowns to lead M/HC past Red Cloud 54-26 Monday night in Hayes Center.

 

All of this came after Friday's mysterious 22-20 score that was reported to the Nebraska School Activities Association. M/HC and Red Cloud officials were baffled by the score, which claimed M/HC won Monday's game on Friday, Oct. 21.

 

No matter.

 

When asked about Gerlach's "pretty big night," M/HC head coach Loren Wagner laughed as if to say that wasn't good enough to describe his night.

 

Not even close.

 

"Bryar was huge," he said. "At one point, I turned to one of the assistants and said, 'you've got a horse, just keep riding him.' He did everything we asked of him tonight."

 

Before Gerlach and the Wolves got going, Red Cloud jumped out to a 13-0 lead with 3:07 left in the first quarter.

 

According to Wagner, he was most proud of his team's comeback from that opening deficit.

 

"After the season we've had and how much we struggled early on, the kids, at that point, could have felt, 'well, here we go again,'" Wagner said.

 

Instead, M/HC fought back in a big way.

 

Gerlach started his night with a 32-yard touchdown run to make it 13-7 with 2:14 left in the first quarter. He followed that up with a one-yard touchdown plunge on M/HC's next series.

 

Two possessions, two scores. Just like that, it's 13-13.

 

"I felt like that was huge at that point," said Wagner.

 

Red Cloud would regain the lead with a 25-yard scamper by Wes Vance with 3:55 left in the half to make it 20-13. At that point, it looked like the Wolves were heading into intermission down by seven.

 

However, Gerlach and the Wolves had other plans.

 

The senior scored on a 13-yard run with 2:54 left to cut the deficit to 20-19. Then, as time expired, he scored again on a tough, two-yard burst.

"I thought the biggest point of the night was when we managed to stick that one in the end zone right before halftime," Wagner said. "I was pretty proud of the kids."

 

Out of timeouts on its final drive of the half, M/HC had to spike the ball to stop the clock at 0:08 to set up two plays in the redzone. Wagner was pleased with his team's composure and execution in a 'two-minute offense.'

 

"We hadn't worked on spiking the ball or anything like that, really. We've just worked on basic stuff to make sure basic plays work."

 

If the score right before halftime was a blow for Red Cloud, what happened at the start of the third quarter was the knockout punch.

 

Getting the ball to start the second half, M/HC drove in a three-yard touchdown run by Tyler Schleeman to make it 35-20 at the 7:31 mark of the quarter.

 

"Being able to get the ball right after halftime and stick another one in was huge," Wagner said. "I think that took a lot of wind out of their sails."

 

For the entire second half, M/HC shut out Red Cloud's offense. The Warriors' only score came on a 75-yard kickoff return by Vance late in the fourth quarter.

 

In the final quarter, Gerlach had three more touchdowns to put the game away. His final two touchdown runs of 55 and 43 yards were the final carries of his high school career.

 

After averaging six points per game, the Wolves exploded for 54 Monday night. Their 366 yards of offense and 185 yards allowed were also season-bests for M/HC.

 

A key factor, according to Wagner, was also the mental mistakes. M/HC had four penalties and no turnovers the whole night.

 

"That was the difference for us."

 

Aside from Gerlach, Devon and Dayne Littell also played in their final football game Monday night. The Littells may not have put up the stats Gerlach did, but their contributions were still impactful.

 

"Devon and Dayne did a great job on the offensive line as well as on defense," Wagner commented.

 

With a win to close out the 2016 season, Wagner thinks Monday's performance will help carry some momentum into the offseason. 13 of the 16 players on the roster are underclassmen, including eight freshmen.

 

"This (win) is big tonight," Wagner said. "I think we ended on a positive note and we're headed into the right direction, and the kids just gotta carry that through into the offseason."

"There's a lot of young talent on this football team. But they (the underclassmen) have got to get in the weight room, they've got to get stronger, they've got to get faster, and they've got to keep working. Get to the camps this summer, and make themselves better. The sky's the limit for them in the future if they decide to get it done."

 

Maywood/Hayes Center head coach Loren Wagner

"It was a hard-fought win, and a lot closer than the score indicated."

 

"I thought the biggest point of the night was when we managed to stick that one in the end zone right before halftime. Being able to get the ball right after halftime and stick another one in was huge to make it 35-20. I think that took a lot of wind out of their sails."

 

"Bryar was huge. At one point, I turned to one of the assistants and said, 'you got a horse, just keep riding him.' He did everything we asked of him tonight."

 

"They've got a heck of a running back, that No. 22 (Wesley Vance), he did a real nice job. I never really felt like the lead was comfortable, even when we were up 20 in the fourth quarter. That kid (Vance) can kill ya from anywhere, he can break loose and hurt you from anywhere."

 

"I had a visit with the kids. We have 16 kids out and 13 of them will be back next year. Eight of them are freshmen, so there's a lot of young talent on this football team. But they've got to get in the weight room, they've got to get stronger, they've got to get faster, and they've got to keep working. Get to the camps this summer, and make themselves better. The sky's the limit for them in the future if they decide to get it done. If they decide to work harder than everyone else, then they're gonna be better."

This article was taken from Gabe Gauthier's story in the McCook Gazette on October 25th, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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