Pawnee City to finish 2022 football season at state championship
PAWNEE CITY, NE — On a cold Thursday night in November after most teams have seen their season’s end, Pawnee City is still practicing.
Friday the team will have a chance to win its first ever football state championship in Kearney against Parkview Christian.
"Feels good," senior running back and linebacker Andy Maloley said. "We've been working for this for years and it's finally happening."
Maloley and his teammates haven’t had an easy road to the championship game. Between the quarterfinals and semifinals, the Indians traveled over 1,600 miles round trip to face Potter-Dix and Arthur County — two of the highest-ranked six-man teams.
Senior center and defensive lineman Joey Marteney talks about the confidence those big wins give the team heading into championship Friday.
"It shows that we've got heart, you know as a team and the grit and the want to win everything," Marteney said. "No matter what gets thrown at us, you know, 6-hour car rides, on a big bus. We've got to persevere through all that."
The championship game is a rematch from earlier this season, which Parkview Christian won 43-16.
With the stakes higher this around, Maloley says they’ll apply lessons they learned from that game this time around.
"Obviously we have a feel for them now and we can adjust to their stuff accordingly," he said. "We've made a couple different adjustments to our blocking scheme to try and catch them off guard and just do what we do."
That regular season loss to Parkview Christian put Pawnee City at 3-2 at the time. Since then, the Indians have won six games in a row. Head Coach Scott Brumbaugh the team has embraced the underdog mentality down the stretch.
"A lot of it starts with our older classmen," Brumbaugh said. "They've been through some really bad times as far as coming from no success to now success. They're kind of just laid back kids. They really don't ever get to high, get to low and that's really led to a lot of our success."
Now with one game left, and with Pawnee City as the lower-seeded team once again, Brumbaugh says they’re grateful the journey is ending in Kearney.
"I have these kids to be very thankful for," Brumbaugh said. "We tell them all the time this isn't a journey that happens very often so they need to be thankful for it. A lot of the guys have been on the staff coaching for quite a while and this is the first trip for all of us so it'll be an adventure. We hope it comes out the right way for us."
The six-man championship game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Ron and Carol Cope Stadium at UNK. It will be televised live statewide on News Channel Nebraska.