Friday nights during football season hold a special kind of magic, especially in Plattsmouth, Nebraska. This week is especially intense as Plattsmouth High prepares to battle Blair, a rivalry that has been steadily building over recent years. Two of the last three games were lopsided in Plattsmouth’s favor, but last year Blair scored more in one game than their prior two meetings combined. As Coach Larsen of Plattsmouth High shared with us, there’s a lot to dissect and anticipate about this game.
“In 2020 and 2021, Plattsmouth had two senior-heavy classes which helps things on a Friday night,” Coach Larsen started. The experience garnered by the players during these years played a pivotal role in their matches against Blair. And the tradition of playing Blair has remained constant. Coach Larsen reflected, “Regardless, Coach Soukup, Coach Dzuris, and now myself have always made it a point to try and play each other.” With a hint of nostalgia, he added, “Since I’ve been an assistant and now head coach it’s typically a Blair/Plattsmouth match up Week 1.” This has become a much-anticipated event for both schools. “I believe both programs have embraced this game, and it has become a small little tradition to play Blair in Week 1, despite having to play a Week 0 game this year for Blair.”
Last year, the dynamics shifted dramatically. Blair came back strong, defeating Plattsmouth with a score of 40-21. When asked about the sudden shift in Blair’s performance and strategy, Coach Larsen remarked, “Last year, we broke in 9 new faces on our team both ways. We were very youthful at a lot of spots, and it took some growing pains and experiences to get our players to understand the game.” He openly acknowledged Blair’s strengths: “Blair had a lot of speed, and they still have lots of speed in their skilled positions. That really took the game over early last year, and our team was trying to play catch up.” But this year, Plattsmouth is not the same young team. “I feel having our 9 returners back that the experience factor is important while preparing for this upcoming game. Still, our players have to perform at a high level and be able to execute.”
Defense, historically a strength for Plattsmouth, will once again be in the spotlight. “Defense has always been extremely important to our Plattsmouth Football program. Our players take a lot of pride in being tough and physical. We have to be fundamentally sound and execute,” Larsen stated.
For fans eager to know who to watch on the field, Coach Larsen didn’t hesitate to share. “Offensively – we have four of our five offensive linemen back, and return our quarterback and running backs as well as our receivers. Gabe Villamonte is our QB, Dominic Vercellino and Ethan Walker are our RBs, with Gage Olsen, Logan Wooten, and Lincoln Bradney as our WRs.” On the defensive side, Larsen detailed, “We are led by a solid linebacking crew with a solid defensive front. We also return all, but one defensive back in All-State TJ Fitzpatrick. Caleb Adkins and Parker Aughenbaugh are our LBs, while Dylan Eby, Orion Parker, Logan Betts, and Eli Michel fortify our DL.”
Plattsmouth plays Blair next at 7PM, Friday, 25 August, at Plattsmouth Football Field, Plattsmouth, Nebraska.