Last week's furious comeback win over Norfolk was one to remember for Grand Island Senior High.
Unfortunately for the Islanders, with a huge district game against Lincoln North Star tonight, they have no choice but to put that game well behind them.
The teams enter the 7 p.m. kickoff at Senior High with identical records and join Lincoln Northeast in a three-way tie atop the district.
"North Star is 4-2 and 2-0 in the district," Grand Island coach Jeff Tomlin said. "This is a big, big game for us. This is big in the playoff race."
But one reason it is so big was last week's rally. The Islanders scored 30 unanswered points in the second half to beat the Panthers 37-30. That kind of performance gave Grand Island an education about itself.
"I think it taught us a lot," Tomlin said. "(The players) learned something I've always known — we have a lot of heart on this team and a lot of leadership.
"We also learned something the hard way. We have got to show up for the first snap. We could not match their intensity in the first half, they couldn't match ours in the second half."
No. 9-rated Grand Island can't afford a slow start against the Navigators. They have won three in a row since being shut out by Lincoln Southwest.
"They are a good football team," Tomlin said. "Their quarterback (Jake Iverson) is a three-year starter, and he's one of the better quarterbacks in Class A. He's savvy and has a good arm.
"Their lines are solid on both sides of the ball. And they have some gamebreakers like their running back (Adrian) Lawson and (wide receiver Tyler) Bullock."
That trio has put up impressive numbers so far this season. Iverson is 49-for-107 for 998 yards passing. Bullock has 23 catches for 655 yards, and Lawson has carried the ball 150 times for 863 yards.
"We can allow no big plays," Tomlin said. "We have to play great defense and get some pressure on the quarterback. On offense, we have to put together physical, time-consuming drives."
With only three games left to decide the district title, the Islanders appear to be getting everything put together.
"We are right in the hunt obviously," Tomlin said. "I feel we have a good football team. The good thing is we are starting to get healthy again. Our attitude is real good, and I think we're ready for the stretch run."
After missing last week's game with a broken arm, running back Brandon Krecklow will be available to play this week with a cast. Lineman Jake Riha and running back Pete Lewis are closing in on 100 percent after battling nagging injuries, and some illnesses that hit members of the team last week.
GINW (4-2) at Hastings (0-6)
After having an open week to try and digest a 55-0 loss to Holdrege, Grand Island Northwest will return to the road to take on Tri-City rival Hastings at 7:30 p.m. at Hastings College.
The Tigers have struggled this season, but improved play in recent weeks suggests they may be primed to pull off an upset.
Hastings held to within 31-23 of No. 1-rated McCook two weeks ago, then was haunted by early turnovers in a 34-14 defeat to No. 8 Holdrege last week.
Central City (0-6) at GICC (3-3)
Grand Island Central Catholic shoots for a third straight victory when it hosts winless Central City at Grand Island Northwest's Viking Field at 7 p.m.
The Crusaders put themselves in the middle of a wild Class C-1, District 7 race with their last two wins. They join St. Paul, Boone Central and Centura atop the six-team district with 2-1 records.
Avoiding an upset bid by the Bison would set up a final-week showdown with Centura.
A young Central City squad has given up more than 41 points in each of its last three games. The Bison have only scored 48 points on the season. GICC only has 62 points, but the offense has clicked lately to average 19 in the last two wins.