Clint Head doesn't remember much from St. Cecilia's 2020 football season.
It was the coach's first year leading the Bluehawks, COVID-19 was still rampant and his team felt the effects through a 1-5 campaign.
Can you blame him?
"It wasn't fun," Head said.
It wasn't the St. Cecilia standard of football Head came to know coaching on the opposite sidelines before his days in Bluehawk blue.
But it was around that time he saw the resolve and character of the program, stemming from his then-sophomore quarterback, Carson Kudlacek.
At a breaking point — certainly a low one — Head watched kids transfer out of the program. It's no secret now that the numbers aren't where they once were.
"It's tough playing (11-man) football with only 24," said Kudlacek.
"But it's pretty impressive that 24 of us could make it to the Round of Eight."
It was hardly a thought after 2020 that the Bluehawks could make two playoff runs, reaching the quarterfinals this year and last.
But with Kudlacek — the 2022 Tribland 11-man Football Player of the Year — at the forefront, St. Cecilia did.
Head knew the turnaround was possible.
"This senior class, and Carson in particular, what they've done and he's done in these last three years since I've been here," said Head. "To see the resilience, to do what they did, to watch them go to work and it pay off the way it has, that's why you coach."
Likewise, Kudlacek said that's why he played.
"It was good to come back junior year and not be the laughing stock of St. Cecilia," he said. "It was nice to win games and have the school back on your side — not that they weren't not on our side, but like, 'Hey, we've got a football team here still.'"
By the end of his senior season, Kudlacek had helped the Bluehawks re-establish themselves as respectable opponents and peers.
"Football was overlooked a little bit," he said. "The girls programs have been doing a great job and it shows. Girls basketball has won championships, softball was runner-up. It was nice to get the football team back up to those standards."
Kudlacek's connection with Head was one reason for the magic that translated into 19 wins across the last two seasons.
"There were nights where I felt like I would call a play and he would look at me like he already knew, like, 'Yeah, I got you,'" said Head.
"We kind of got in a groove in that way."
During the Bluehawks' game against Kearney Catholic specifically, Kudlacek had his own ideas of what would help STC succeed offensively.
"There was something there that night where I could have probably just turned the play calling over to him," Head said. "He asked for a couple and we scored on the very first one he asked for.
"Sometimes kids on the field see things that coaches can't."
That type of football acumen helped Kudlacek throw for 2,553 yards and run for 776 more. He accounted for 46 touchdowns for the Bluehawks, who finished 10-1 on the year.
Kudlacek filled any role he could for a thin St. Cecilia roster, including on defense and as the team's kicker and punter. He averaged 30.6 yards per punt and made 27 PATs.
"I really didn't feel much pressure at all," Kudlacek said. "I just kind of did my job because I knew everyone else was going to do theirs."
That trust was put to the limit this season in Week 4 against Bishop Neumann. Kudlacek threw two pick-6s and had a punt blocked in a span of two minutes and five seconds. All three were returned for touchdowns.
"I knew we were going to find a way to get it done," he said.
And that the 'Hawks did after surrendering a 12-point lead into an eight-point deficit in that short window.
STC scored on each of its final three drives, twice via Kudlacek, who ran for a touchdown and threw for another.
Kudlacek, a true dual-threat QB, ran for his season-high 146 yards that night in Wahoo.
"We hadn't really showcased him as a runner going into it, but I knew we were going to," Head said, adding he was nervous for the outcome.
"There were a couple times where I'd call it and you'd hear this big collision and I was just like, 'Ah, I just ran him into the linebacker', and then he's the kid who's laying on top.
"When I saw that a couple times, I was like, 'OK, this kid has really got it going.'"
Where Kudlacek ends up is still a question. He said he wants to play college football over basketball and track and field — the latter he's already been recruited for.
A senior season like the one he put together on the gridiron is surely to catch some eyes. He solved all but one defense he faced — the outlier being Battle Creek's in the C-2 quarterfinals.
"We're not going to let one game define our legacy," Head said.
Kudlacek's stands at 4,572 career passing yards — he threw for more than 1,100 more as a senior than junior — and over 1,500 rushing yards (more than half of which came in 2022).