If a Class B quarterback is breaking passing records, then Northwest must be the next team on the schedule.
At least that has been the case over the past four weeks.
After Hastings’ Jarrett Synek broke the Class B record with nine touchdowns in a game, the Vikings slowed him down the next week in 49-13 victory in the regular-season finale.
In last week’s opening round of the playoffs, Omaha Roncalli’s Jack Dotzler claimed the 11-man postseason records for passing yards (454 yards) and touchdowns (seven) in a game.
And, yes, the Crimson Pride are heading to Viking Field for a quarterfinal meeting Friday at 7 p.m.
“Both Hastings’ quarterback and the Roncalli quarterback are special,” Northwest coach Kevin Stein said. “They’re good. They throw well when they have timing and then they really extend plays and make you pay for it with big plays.”
A relentless pass rush helped the Vikings limit Synek to a 10-for-19, 93-yard performance. They will need a similar type of effort to try to slow down Dotzler.
“It’s a very similar offense (to Hastings’),” Stein said. “It’s maybe a more physical offense to where Hastings was built a lot more on speed and quickness, kind of getting the ball into (receivers’) hands and letting them work.
“These guys catch the ball and then run very physical and can run basically over you rather than around you.”
A balanced offense has helped No. 4-rated Northwest (9-1) have success against any type of defense it has come up against. That plan won’t change against No. 5 Roncalli (8-2), whose only losses have come to No. 1 Omaha Skutt and No. 3 Waverly in the first three weeks of the season.
“We still have to keep hopefully rushing for about 150 yards and passing for around 150 yards,” Stein said. “If we can stay in that balanced mindset where we can do both and keep people off-balanced and stay in front of the chains, we have a shot to put up some points.”
Northwest overcame a sluggish start to beat Lexington 34-3 in the first round. That should be a valuable lesson because the Vikings won’t be able to afford the same type of first half against the Crimson Pride.
“We just came in lackluster in that first half and weren’t mentally prepared,” Stein said. “Therefore we weren’t physically prepared to finish drives and to get stops on defense. We were just OK.
“When we buckled down in the second half, I was very pleased with how that went.”
The fact that the talk after the Lexington victory turned to the next opponent shows how Northwest’s program is making progress. Two years ago, the Vikings won their first playoff game in 30 years.
“We’ve just raised the level of our standard,” Stein said. “Before it used to be just make the playoffs. Then it was, OK, let’s try to win one. Then, wait, let’s try to have a home game in the first round.
“Now, it’s we’ve had a home game. We’ve got a win. What’s next? We keep raising the bar and are excited about how they laid the foundation for the future.”
And it is a major accomplishment for the program to stay at home throughout the first two rounds. This will be the home finale, as the Vikings will travel to the Scottsbluff-Norris winner if they get past Omaha Roncalli.
“It’s exciting to have the first couple of games at home,” Stein said. “Home-field advantage is big, especially for a teenager’s psyche. It’ll be fun to have them here.”