Area football: Flyers bond on ‘Booyakasha’
Whenever Humphrey St. Francis scores a touchdown the whole team has a tradition where they yell ‘booyakasha,’ an exclamation used often in the Nickelodeon reboot of “The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”
Tuesday in Falls City, the Flyers are hoping to holler out ‘booyakasha’ as much as possible.
Humphrey St. Francis travels south on Tuesday afternoon for a 4:30 p.m. game at Jug Brown Stadium against Falls City Sacred Heart. The Irish ended the Flyers season a year ago in a 34-30 second round victory.
In this year’s contest, Humphrey St. Francis comes in undefeated with a 10-0 record, as the 1-seed and the No. 4-ranked team according to the Lincoln Journal Star. Sacred Heart is 9-1, the 5-seed according to the NSAA and No. 2 according to the LJS.
“What a great opportunity for us,” said head coach Eric Kessler on Monday after practice. “Falls City Sacred Heart is a great team. They’ve kind of been the preseason favorite. They’ve been pretty dominant overall. Extremely talented on both sides of the ball. They have a hall of fame coach and just a great team. At this stage of the year, you expect big challenges and we’ve got one for sure tomorrow.”
Jarret Weidner is one of two seniors for the Flyers this year. According to Kessler, Weidner has done a little bit of everything to help the Flyers get to where they are right now.
“We just have a great team,” Weidner said. “We all just bond really well. Nobody tries to do too much, everybody does their job. Everyone just gets along. I love being a part of the team. It’s just so fun playing.”
When Weidner isn’t playing football he can be found on his family’s farm where he helps raise corn and soybeans. If he’s not in the field, he’s often playing one-on-one basketball with his older brother.
Weidner mentioned how close the team is. With only 19 players on the team, he said that the team is always hanging out and bonding, and there isn’t much that they don’t know about each other.
“Falls City Sacred Heart has a lot of good athletes,” Weidner said. “We might not be the most athletic team out there, but we like to work hard, so sometimes teams that have some really good athletes like Falls City does, it can give us some problems.”
Even though the Irish knocked the Flyers out of the playoffs last year, Weidner and his teammates aren’t focused on revenge or a state title.
“It’s just about getting to the next round,” he said. “We’re ready to get it done this year. I know that. That’s what we want.”
One of the strengths of Humphrey St. Francis has been their physical offensive line, one that Weidner and the rest of the team take pride in.
“I like our line a lot,” he said. “They put in a lot of work over the summer. We all had 40-plus days in the weight room. Our line is in really good shape. That’s what we like to do at St. Francis, we like to pound it down people’s throat.”
In the first two games of the playoffs, Humphrey St. Francis defeated Wausa 54-12 and Hartington-Newcastle 54-8.
“Usually being the 1-seed, the 16-seed is kind of iffy, but we’ve been kind of fortunate to have played some pretty good teams to start out the playoffs,” Weidner said.
“It’s been kind of easy to take it one game at a time. The first two teams that we played have a similar offense that Falls City does, so it’s kind of been preparing us for this game.”
This year’s Irish look quite a bit different from the team that defeated the Flyers in the playoffs last year. But one thing that remains is all-state quarterback Drew Bippes.
“They’ve got some skilled guys that are just difference makers,” Kessler said. “They have an all-state quarterback that is tremendous and was all-state last year. They lost a lot of seniors from last year, but they’ve replaced them with more athletic guys.
“They’re really young, they’re aggressive. They do a lot of different things offensively so they’re hard to prepare for. They’re kind of the whole package, so they present a lot of challenges on both sides of the ball.”
The biggest advantage Humphrey St. Francis might have is their attitude, according to Kessler.
“I like our mindset and how we’ve prepared,” he said. “We’re a confident group. We’re playing our best football. I think we’re physical up front. I think that will be key if we can maintain the ball and march the ball on them.
“Overall, I like our confidence and how we’re playing and I think the kids are focused. I think we’ll play well, whether that’s good enough I don’t know, but I do think we’ll play well.”
Peter Huguenin is a sports reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at email@example.com