The annual Blair-Plattsmouth match has grown in significance, resonating with the locals and setting high expectations for the season opener. However, for Coach Bryan Soukup of the Blair Bears, the match holds a consistent approach. “We have played Plattsmouth week 1 for quite a few seasons but we treat it just like any other game,” he explains. “You prepare as much as possible but there are always a lot of unknowns that come with a season opener.”
Revisiting past games, the Norris match remains an emotional topic, particularly the controversial interception call. “It was definitely a big play in the game that shouldn’t have happened,” Soukup recalls. “We needed to overcome that situation a little better as there was a lot of game to be played. But we went from probably going into halftime with the lead and momentum to all of sudden being down 19-13.”
It was definitely a big play in the game that shouldn’t have happened…Blair Coach Bryan Soukup on the controversial interception call in the Norris game.
Coming off a solid victory against Plattsmouth last season, Coach Soukup notes that while previous successes form a foundation, this season presents new challenges. “We got off to a pretty solid start against Plattsmouth last season. It’s a whole new season and Plattsmouth definitely provides some challenges,” he mentions, keeping his cards close to his chest.
Juggling roles as both a father and coach is no small feat, especially when his son, Bode, takes the helm as Blair’s Senior starting quarterback. “It’s been good. We’re both focused on the same thing and working on getting better each day,” Soukup shares with evident pride.
While Bode garners significant attention, the Blair Bears are far from a one-man show. “We have a number of players that return with experience and can do some exciting things on the field,” says Soukup, listing off names like Ethan Baessler, Brady Brown, Crayton Macholan, and others, before adding that “Cooper Sorensen is one that has emerged this fall and will do some good things as well.”
Many might view the Blair-Plattsmouth match as a rivalry, but Soukup offers a different perspective. “I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s a rivalry,” he remarks. Acknowledging the strength of both teams, he stresses that “One of our strengths this season is the amount of varsity experience from previous seasons. However, Plattsmouth returns a lot of players from last season as well.”
Drawing on both teams’ experience, Soukup candidly admits, “More than anything, we have to be more physical this week than we played against Norris. Both teams will have veteran experience. They will have a lot of size and a solid running game. We need to create stops on defense and eliminate mistakes on offense.”
With the season ahead, Coach Soukup’s poignant message to the seniors resonates: “Relax and have fun.” Recognizing the fleeting nature of their final season, he advises, “Season goes fast…need to stop and take it all in every once and a while.”
Blair plays Plattsmouth next at 7PM, Friday, 25 August, at Plattsmouth Football Field, Plattsmouth, Nebraska.