North Platte Outslugs Milan in Class 1 Semifinal

A swing in momentum late in the first half and early in the second half allowed the North Platte Panthers to defeat the Milan Wildcats 54-34 in a Class 1 Semifinal Saturday afternoon. The game was a defensive affair for much of the first half with the Wildcats going ahead 7-0 on a five-yard touchdown run by Carlos Cotto at the end of the first quarter. The Panthers responded with a three-yard touchdown run by Liam Servaes and a successful two-point conversion early in the second quarter. With just over three minutes to go in the first half Milan committed a turnover on downs in their own territory and as a result, the Panthers pushed their lead to 16-7 with 1:01 remaining in the first half. The Wildcats needed just one play to cut back into the deficit.

Colin Schowe with the call on Superstation KRES and The Panthers took the momentum back when quarterback Colton Kirkham got a five-yard touchdown run with one second remaining in the half to lead 24-14 at the break. The Panthers pushed the advantage to three scores to start the third quarter.

The Panthers were successful again on the two-point conversion to make it 32-14. The second half was a slugfest with the Wildcats getting back within eleven points but the Panthers answered by scoring on all but one drive in the half and going a perfect 6-6 on two-point conversions. Milan coach Mark Cole discussed the challenges of facing the North Platte offense.

Kirkham racked-up 377 total yards for the Panthers. Cotto once again led the Wildcat ground game with 29 carries for 181 yards and three touchdowns. Reed was 12-20 passing for 153 yards and two touchdowns, both to Weter. Cole said his sophomore quarterback showed his potential in the game.

Weter finished with nine catches for 116 yards in the game. The Wildcats graduated 14 seniors from this year’s team. Cole said this senior class was special.

The Wildcats conclude the season at 11-2 with the semifinal defeat. This was the deepest playoff run for Milan since winning the Class 1 Championship in 1993. North Platte will play in its first state championship game since 1998 when they face Marionville on Friday.

Milan coach Mark Cole