A great season with high hopes came skidding to a halt for the Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing football squad.
After racing to an undefeated regular season and two big playoff wins, the Renegades ran into the top-ranked Palmer Tigers and were unable to keep up with their high-powered attack.
The Tigers jumped out to a 32-14 lead by the end of the first quarter. Every time the Renegades pulled closer, the Tigers countered to extend their lead. They continued that trend to enter halftime up 54-33.
The second half was much more quiet, with neither team finding the end zone in the third quarter. In the fourth, Palmer scored twice with CWCE scoring just once to reach a final score of 68-41.
The loss is the first of the year for the Renegades and ends their season at 10-1.
Chambers/Wheeler Central may get a rematch with Holt County rival St. Mary's yet this season.
To do so, the Renegades will have to navigate a tough tournament field, but that tournament will be the state tournament in Lincoln. CWC qualified for their third state tournament since the two schools began their co-op by virtue of wild card points. Their 22-6 season was good for the sixth seed.
The Renegades will start the championship quest on Thursday when they take on 31-1 Potter-Dix, the third seed. Game time is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Lincoln Northeast High School.
In what has become one of the tougher rivalries in Holt County, the Renegades were able to squeak out a 36-21 victory over the West Holt Huskies Wednesday night to advance in the Class D1 playoffs.
The Huskies got the scoring started in the first quarter, scoring a short touchdown run to go up 7-0.
Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing countered in the second quarter on a short touchdown run of their own. The two teams continued their strong defensive play throughout the quarter, making it difficult for either team to advance the ball much. However, Jordan Tasler was able to tiptoe down the sidelines for a Huskies' score to give them a 13-6 lead with just a minute to go in the half. It looked as if West Holt would go into half with a touchdown lead before Carter Croxen hooked up with Zane Patrick to score just seconds before halftime, making it 13-12.
Coming out of the break, the Renegades once again got on the board thanks to a Croxen pass, this time a short strike to Connor Croxen on the side of the end zone to give CWCE their first lead of the game. CWCE scored once more in the third to enter the final quarter up 24-13.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Huskies took it in from just one yard out to bring the score to 24-21. However, just a couple plays later Patrick struck again, this time on a 61 yard reverse to give the Renegades a 30-21 lead. CWCE scored once more with just 2:35 remaining in the game to put the game out of reach and earn the victory.
Carter Croxen led the Renegades on the night, gathering up 198 yards through the air and 41 on the ground to go with his four total touchdowns.
The win sends CWCE on to a third-round showdown with top-seeded Palmer next Tuesday.
Behind yet another big night from Regan Dierks and Jacie Laetsch, Chambers/Wheeler Central dominated Stuart to advance to a showdown with St. Mary's.
The Renegades beat the Broncos 25-12, 25-21, 25-12.
Laetsch was spectacular on the attack, recording 17 kills and 13 aces along with three blocks. Dierks hit on 16 of her 26 kill attempts to keep the Renegades dominance alive.
They will now take on St. Mary's, a team they beat in the NVC Tournament, on Tuesday for the chance to move on to the district final.
Jacie Laetsch has led the Renegades all season and on Friday, when they needed it most, she stepped her game up even more.
Laetsch put down an incredible 30 kills to lead Chambers/Wheeler Central to a straight set win over North Central, 26-24, 25-17, 25-23, to take home first place in the Niobrara Valley Conference Tournament.
Laetsch scored from a variety of spots on the court, even bringing the ball up from the backcourt and coming up to the front court to put it down. She was excellent at avoiding the North Central block attempts, sliding the ball down the net for points.
Along with her 30 kills, Laetsch also recorded five blocks and 12 digs.
Regan Dierks was also strong at the net, recording seven kills and six total blocks. Freshman Taylor Peter had a strong all-around night, putting down three kills, recording an ace, completing four total blocks and bringing up 11 digs.
The Renegades now will get a weekend to celebrate before subdistricts begin on Monday.
The Chambers Community Center will hold a fish fry on Friday, November 18th from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m.
Attendees have the choice of deep fried or grilled fish, fries, salad, roll, dessert, and drink included. Adults under 65 eat for $15, over 65 for $10, and kids under 10 eat free.
The event will benefit the Chambers Community Center Foundation.
Chambers School One Act Team will be performing their community preview in The Community Center at 8 p.m. following the fish fry.
Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing entered the 2016 playoffs with full confidence.
Nothing that happened Thursday should change that.
That's because the Renegades dominated Sutherland 54-12 in the first round to stay undefeated and move on to the next round.
The win sends CWCE to a second round showdown with fellow Holt County foe West Holt.
The Renegade earned a home game to start the Class D1 playoffs on Thursday.
No. 4 Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing (8-0) will host No. 13 Sutherland (3-5) in the first round of playoffs.
In the final game of the regular season, the Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing Renegades faced an unexpected struggle.
After going into halftime with a 22-6 lead, the Renegades found themselves in a tie ball game when Clearwater-Orchard scored near the end of the third to bring the score to 28-28.
However, once the fourth quarter started, it was all CWCE. An interception return for a near-score, a fumble recovery in the endzone and a couple of short touchdown runs gave the Renegades a 52-28 win to finish out he regular season 8-0.
Statistics for CWCE will be added to this story when they become available.
The Renegades now await the announcement of their opponent for the first round of the playoffs, which are set to begin Thursday.
In other Holt County action Thursday night:
West Holt tops Ainsworth 51-24.
Stuart falls to Bloomfield 62-23.
St. Mary's squeaks past Osmond 30-28.
Chambers/Wheeler Central continued their strong late-season run Thursday, adding two more wins to their season total with wins over Clearwater-Orchard and Wausa in Clearwater.
In the first match of the night, the Renegades took down the Cyclones handily, winning 25-17 and 25-20.
Jacie Laetsch paced the Renegades offensively, recording five kills and six aces. She also added seven digs to lead the defense.
In the second match of the night, against Wausa, CWC absolutely dominated, winning 25-13 and 25-15.
Laetsch once again led the Renegades, putting down eight kills. Regan Dierks added five kills as well.
The Renegades hit the court again on Tuesday when they take on Burwell.