Stormdogs magical season highlights top 10 list

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From overtime thrillers to walk-off winners, 2019 had something for everyone to enjoy.
It’s always hard to narrow down all the games from the entire calendar year to just 10. But, that’s the fun of it all.
We’ve got football, basketball, softball, volleyball and some soccer, too.
Here are your top 10 games from 2019:
1. Stormdogs rally to win Clash in Clarks
Sure, this wasn’t the finals. But boy, did it have everything that makes high school athletics great.
Two teams within shouting distance of each other playing for a shot at the state finals. Several fourth quarter lead changes. A final drive to remember.
I’m sure the number will grow with the years, but some say there could have been 2,000 people in Clarks that night to see OHP and Cross County play, and I wouldn’t argue.
OHP was up 27-14 in the second half before Cross County took a 30-27 lead in the fourth.
The Stormdogs put all the trust in one of the best Nebraska high school backs in recent memory as Keaton Van Housen carried the final drive in the run game and scored with 1:28 to go, giving his team a 34-30 lead. Cross County had one final chance, but the Stormdog defense turned them away on four straight plays.
2. Huskies fall to Roncalli in 2OT during state semis
These are the games your hands shake down the stretch. Looking back now, Aurora should have won this one.
Aurora was up four -- 65-61 with 2:30 to play in the final overtime. Roncalli used a 10-0 run to ice it.
Going back to the fourth quarter, Baylor Scheierman threw one down with authority to put Aurora up three. Once Roncalli tied it, then held for the final shot and missed.
In the first overtime, Scheierman scored all seven points for Aurora, including a pair of foul shots that gave the Huskies a 59-56 lead with under a minute to go.
Another Roncalli three tied the game under 30 seconds as Aurora held for the final shot.
Everyone in the building thought Scheierman would take the shot, but he dished off to a wide open Jordan Stevenson in the paint who missed from close range.
3. OHP ends co-op with state title win over Burwell
Not all state final games deliver in the thrilling and excitement factor, but the D-1 final this year certainly did. OHP could have dominated this list more than they did.
At one point, OHP led Burwell 40-20, but needed a final defensive stand to hold off the Longhorns and win the first football state title for Osceola and High Plains.
Unfortunately for Van Housen, he suffered an injury in the first half that limited him the rest of the day. However, Dylan Soule and Kyle Sterup came to play.
Soule rushed for 145 yards and four touchdowns as well as 11 tackles. Sterup blocked a punt and forced a fumble with nine tackles.
However, Burwell made it a one-possession game with 4:11 to go and got the ball back shortly thereafter. On a fourth and two from the OHP 22, Burwell rumbled up the middle and was met by a gaggle of players as Jarrett Parsons popped the ball loose and Carter Boden recovered for the Stormdogs. The play was reviewed and upheld with 1:34 left.
Needing one first down, Soule rumbled forward from the fullback spot for 11 yards and iced the game.
4. Scheierman buries Seward in 2OT
Seeing Scheierman call game from the baseline was all-time stuff.
He pulled up from the left wing and hit nothing but net to lift Aurora past Seward 66-63 in double overtime of the Central Conference semifinals.
It wasn’t as easy as it sounds, however, as Scheierman nearly turned the ball over, dribbling it off his knee and having to recover. Heck, that’s not even what they drew up, but it’s all good.
Aurora trailed by as many as 12 points at different points of the game, including early on in the third quarter.
The Huskies fought back and had a shot to win it on the last possession, but couldn’t do it.
Aurora never led in regulation with its first lead coming in the first overtime. The Huskies led by four at one point in the first overtime, but Seward rallied to tie it up again as Aurora missed a second final shot.
5. Eva Fahrnbruck 3-run homer in subdistricts
This wasn’t quite a walk-off but it was thrilling nonetheless.
Eva Fahrnbruck slapped a three-run homer in the eighth inning to defeat GICC 10-9 in subdistricts.
It was a towering shot over the left field fence, just staying on the fair side, in a crucial spot in the game from the nine-hole batter.
After coming up with a three-run homer in the eighth, the freshman clocked three consecutive outs to keep Aurora’s season alive on the mound.
Aurora trailed 4-0 early before rallying in the late innings.
6. OHP reigns over defending champs in playoffs
This is the last Stormdogs game, I swear. Although, their entire playoff run could have been in here.
The Stormdogs held on 4th down and added an insurance score, toppling the defending Class D1 champs Creighton in their house, 46-32 as the snow flew in early November.
Creighton led 24-6 in the first half before OHP finished the game on a 40-8 run.
It was a big afternoon for Van Housen on both offense and defense with 275 yards rushing and two scores while also recording an interception in the third quarter.
On 4th and inches from the OHP 35-yard line, Creighton ran up the middle and was promptly met in the backfield by Soule for a slight loss of gain and a turnover on downs.
From there, Creighton got a heavy dose of the Van Housen rushing attack before the senior barreled in from five yards out, his third total touchdown of the day, capping the 40-8 run and giving the Stormdogs a 46-32 lead with three minutes to play.
7. Giltner loses CRC title in five-set thriller
This match was nearly a sweep for BDS but turned into an improbable comeback for Giltner.
Giltner was a match point away from being swept in the CRC championship game against BDS. However, the Lady Hornets nearly won in five.
After losing the first two sets, Giltner rallied to take sets three, four and even had a match point opportunity in the fifth before BDS came back to defeat the Lady Hornets, 25-9, 25-23, 25-27, 22-25 and 17-15 in the CRC finals at the York City Auditorium.
Giltner led 7-3 in the fifth and at one point led 12-8 later on. The Lady Hornets had match point at 15-14 after a Whisenand kill, but a Giltner net violation gave BDS a second match point at 16-15 and the Eagles would get the victory after a Lady Hornet error to end the match.
8. Aurora wins district title over Central City
A Huebert family reunion on the Central City sideline was nearly an upset over Aurora.
A late fourth quarter touchdown drive and a final defensive stand catapulted the Huskies to a 30-29 win over Central City, securing Aurora’s fourth district title in five seasons.
After completing a 60-yard bomb to begin the fourth quarter, the visiting Bison took a 29-22 lead.
Trevor Dvorak found Nate Boerkircher on a big 3rd and 15 to move the sticks as Aurora scored later on that drive late in the fourth. The Huskies went for two and took the lead, 30-29.
When the Huskies needed a stop, Mack Owens showed up. The sophomore came barreling in off the left side, sacking CC’s Michael Rutherford on a third and two.
Owens again brought pressure on fourth down, forcing Rutherford to his right and had to get rid of the ball early, which led to Kaleb Moural breaking up the pass with 51 seconds left to secure Aurora’s fifth consecutive win.
9. Aurora loses a shootout to Holdrege
This was the first time I’d seen the Husky soccer team play in a shootout, and they are over-the-top intense.
The Huskies were on the wrong end of a 2-1 shootout with Holdrege to end the regular season.
Holdrege, which already had the advantage by going last, was one up on Aurora going into the fifth attempt, which was unsuccessful.
The disappointment for Aurora in the loss stemmed from not being able to finish the game in overtime as the Huskies had several quality chances to win it from guys like Jameson Herzberg and Eli Warnke.
10. Giltner’s final shot goes awry in CRC finals
Trailing by a single point, 47-46, against top-seed Shelby-Rising City, the Hornets rebounded a missed free throw with 23 seconds left in front of a loud, emotional, jam packed house at the York City Auditorium.
Giltner put the ball in the hands of his best playmaker and when senior Dane Hinrichs started to drive the lane with 10 seconds left it looked like the Hornets had the advantage.
Hinrichs, who finished with a game-high 25 points, put up a floater from inside 10 feet, which bounced back to him in time for one last putback just before the buzzer. That shot rimmed away as well, sealing the deal for the Hornets’ runner-up finish.
We also need to recognize our state champions from the 2019 calendar year as the Giltner girls track team won an unprecedented 5th state title in May.
There was also the Aurora boys cross country team winning gold in October as well as Danica Badura winning an individual gold in girls golf earlier that month. Last but not least, the Osceola/High Plains Stormdogs with their run and several mentions earlier.
It was so much fun to see all of those athletes compete at such a high level on a pressure-packed stage.
Here’s to another solid list of thrillers to come in the new decade. See everyone on the sidelines.  
RICHARD RHODEN can be reached at sports@hamilton.net.

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