Northeast Nebraska Football
Team: North Bend Central
Colors: Orange and Black
Head Coach: Ryan Stieren (2nd season)
2016 record: 4-4
Returning Starters: 6 offense 6 defense
North Bend Central returns 6 starters on both sides of the ball from last year's 4-4 squad. Head Coach Ryan Stieren says a couple of those returners are Joel Hines and Brock Ray. "Returning at Quarterback Joel Hines (5'9, 175 SR) this year, and he's a senior Quarterback, and he was our starter all year last year. So that's definitely nice to have. Got another year. And what we do offensively. And so I think his numbers should improve on last year, and he's a great leader for us. Other than that we got Brock Ray (5'10, 200) SR). Brock Ray's another solid player for us, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Offensively, he's going to move to center this year. We're a little bit light numbers wise on the offensive line so he's sacrificing for the team, which is awesome, and so he's done really really well there."
Stieren says Colton Mitties (5'10, 195 SR) is moving from tight end to fullback, and James Seymour (6'6, 245 SR) will start at tight end.
Other offensive linemen include seniors Jared Spiker (6'3, 255), Brendan Pojar (6'3, 210), Joe Bautista (5'11, 225), and Tyler Obershaw (5'9, 220), as well as juniors Jeremy Doernemann (5'10, 225), Zander Ziettlow (6'0, 250), and Trevor Nelson (5'10, 225), in addition to sophomore Cole Johnson (5'11, 190).
Wide receivers include John Emanuel (6'0, 170 JR), Peter Emanuel (6'1, 170 SR), and Brandon Wardman (5'10, 150 JR).
On defense, Ray, Mitties, Seymour, and Peter Emanuel will patrol things at linebacker.
Wardman and John Emanuel will see some time at defensive back, according to Stieren.
Hines and Jacob Ray are vying for the starting free safety spot.
The Tigers should have a lot of power and speed this season. North Bend Central has some big boys up front and some really nice players at the skill positions. I really think this Tigers' team could have a really nice year.
I think North Bend Central will fare at least the same as last year.
I don't see the Tigers going any worse than 4-4 this season. If anything, I see North Bend Central finishing 5-3.
The West Point-Beemer game will be big for the Tigers, in my opinion. That's the game that could decide if North Bend Central goes 4-4 or 5-3.
North Bend Central kicks off their season Friday night at home against Louisville. Stieren says his team has been working hard for and anticipating the start of this season. "Yeah I mean it's been a long haul. Since May we've been in the weightroom, and we've done the team camp in the summer time, and went off to a full contact camp. And we've done 7 on 7's. So it feels like we've been practicing for about 4 months."
The Tigers, who are in District C1-4 with David City Aquinas, Bishop Neumann, Wahoo, and David City, defeated Louisville 19-7 on the road in last year's season opener.
I don't know if North Bend Central will beat the Wahoo Schools and David City Aquinas this year, but I think the Tigers can definitely be more competitive against all three this season.
North Bend Central has to have a fire lit under them and play tenacious, nasty, physical, hard nosed, and aggressive football.
The Tigers have to be ready to hit hard and light people up.
Teams like Aquinas and Bishop Neumann and Wahoo know how to wrap up and hit people.
So North Bend Central has to be tough minded and try and emulate the types of things those teams do.
There's no reason the Tigers can't become one of those top teams that's feared in the area and throughout the state.
There was already so much improvement from 2015 to 2016 for North Bend Central, and I look for the Tigers to put an even better product on the field in 2017.
North Bend Central may not make the playoffs, but I think the Tigers can get pretty darn close to making it in if they don't earn a spot.
It's strange that North Bend Central doesn't play 9 games like the schedule is set up for Classes A through C-2, but perhaps the Tigers will earn a trip to the playoffs and at least play a 9th game.
It may seem like a long shot, but all the work these kids have put in this summer is going to pay off one way or another, in my opinion.
North Bend Central just has to stick with it, and continue to improve and play hard week in and week out, and let the winning and results take care of themselves.
2017 North Bend Central Tigers Football Schedule:
09/01/17 @ West Point-Beemer
09/15/17 @ Madison
10/06/17 @ Aquinas Catholic
10/13/17 Bishop Neumann
10/20/17 @ David City
Colors: Red and White
Head Coach: Andy Welsh (3rd season)
2016 record: 4-5 (lost to Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family in first round of playoffs)
Returning Starters: 5 offense 4 defense
Pender looks to reach the postseason again this year after going 4-5 and appearing in the playoffs last season. Head Coach Andy Welsh's team brings back 5 starters on offense. "Returning starters on the offensive side we're going to return, our quarterback will be, he was a starting receiver last year, Brady Oliver (5'10, 170 SR). So there's one returning starter. Tyler Nelson (5'10, 175 SR) was the starting running back...he'll be receiver now. Jared Tyrell (5'9, 160 SR)...one of the starting running backs. Lane Heese (6'1, 185 SR) the starting lineman. Jesse Thompson (5'10, 220 SR) the starting lineman. We just had to move a couple guys around to a couple new spots, but return those five starters."
Welsh says junior Jaydon Jump (5'11, 185) will come in on the line, Korbin Hardenbrook (5'9, 165 SO) will start at running back, and Sam Mailoux will start as well.
There are 20 kids out for this year's team with 8 of them seniors, according to Welsh.
I fully expect the Pendragons to put a good, competitive product on the field this season. Pender is veteran laden with almost half their team made up of seniors so that should result in good things for the Pendragons.
Pender has had good seasons the last two years, and I don't see why the Pendragons can't and won't be good again.
Pender has to continue to work hard throughout the season though. The Pendragons can never be complacent with where they are as a team.
Pender has to keep grinding and fighting until the final whistle of every practice and game, and must continually improve, get better, and give it their all until there is no more football left to play.
The Pendragons return a good amount of kids from last year and should go on to have a fine season.
Obviously losing James Bensen and Dylan Roth, among others, hurts Pender, but the Pendragons should still be a solid bunch.
I look for Pender to be a tough out this year, and give people fits. I think the Pendragons will be a very solid team, and a threat to do something in the playoffs.
All in all, I look for Pender to play good, consistent football week in and week out, and give themselves a chance to win every game they play this season.
Pender and Clarkson/Leigh meet on the gridiron in both teams' season opener for the second year in a row. Welsh says it figures to be an intriguing game. "The thing we just don't really know what we're going to get from them. Last year (Bradley) Bunner was still healthy when they played us, and everything ran through him. And they still got some good players. They got some good athletes. They're always coached really well. So it'll be a tough game. It'll just be one of those games where we both hope we're prepared, and can adjust to whatever the other team throws at them. And see who can outlast the other, and hopefully we play a little more defense than we did last year."
The Patriots took last year's contest 58-50 in a high scoring affair in Pender.
I think this year's game will definitely be different in terms of how many points are scored, but the Pendragons have their work cut out for them in this game, especially with the game being at Clarkson/Leigh.
This is a big game for both teams, and one I'm sure Pender wants very badly.
Games against Chambers/Wheeler Central/Ewing, Wakefield, GACC, and Neligh-Oakdale don't figure to be easy either, but I think the Pendragons can step up and win some of these contests.
I look for Pender to go somewhere between 4-4 and 6-2.
Beating CWCE and GACC will be very difficult, same with Neligh-Oakdale, but I think all the other contests are very likely wins for the Pendragons, and Pender could definitely defeat the Warriors.
Wakefield is never easy because it is a rivalry game so don't expect the Pendragons to have an easy time against the Trojans either.
With all this said, this is Pender's chance to do something. The Pendragons have had some nice success the last two years, now it's time to take that next step and do something in the postseason all while making memories that will last a lifetime.
Perhaps Pender can get to the playoffs and win a game or two this year.
I think the Pendragons may have to at least go 6-2 to host a first round playoff game this year though.
Pender played Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family tough in the playoffs last year, and I'm sure the Pendragons would like another shot at a home playoff game.
We'll have to wait and see where the chips fall for Pender this year, but the Pendragons should expect to have another playoff like type season with a lot of success.
I would say worst case scenario Pender finishes 3-5, but I don't see that happening.
I look for the Pendragons to be good and a force to be reckoned with this season.
2017 Pender Pendragons Football Schedule:
08/25/17 @ Clarkson/Leigh
09/15/17 @ Wakefield
09/29/17 @ Winnebago
10/13/17 @ Omaha Nation
10/20/17 Guardian Angels Central Catholic
Colors: Blue and Gold
Head Coach: Dan Maresh
2016 record: 3-6
Returning Starters: 7 offense 6 defense
The BRLD Football team returns 7 starters on offense and 6 on defense from last year's 3-6 team. Head Coach Dan Maresh says among the returners are a few offensive linemen and a skill position player. "We'll be returning our running back. He'll be a key piece in our offense this year as he had 800 yards last year. Especially early on in the season we'll be handing the ball to him to get everybody else settled down. We return a few linemen that definitely got a lot of playing time last year. And we'll reshuffle them around at positions, but we expect them to pick up right where they left off and be a strength there in the interior."
The running back is Jacob Zuhlke (5'9, 180 SR) while the linemen are juniors Nick Ronnfeldt (6'2, 220), Dustin Burgett (5'10, 220), and senior Tyler Kroger (6'2, 230).
Junior Seth Totten (6'1, 250) is another potential starter for the Wolverines while sophomore Will Gatzemeyer (5'10, 150) will start at Quarterback.
Koby Lyons (5'10, 180) is also expected to contribute in the offensive backfield at running back for BRLD.
Senior Trent Gatewood (5'10, 170), and Sophomores Jaxon Johnson (6'4, 200) and Darwin Snyder (5'8, 130) help make up the receiving corps.
The Wolverines lost some good players like Cole Christoffersen and others, but I look for BRLD to be good and competitive this season.
The Wolverines were competitive in every game they played in last year, and didn't really get blown out by anyone.
Sure they lost by double digits to Hartington Cedar Catholic and Crofton, but last time I checked those two teams are among the best in the state in C-2.
So I'd say BRLD held their own last season, and has a chance to do even better things this year. The Wolverines don't have an easy path there's no denying that, but I look for BRLD to be a hard nosed, physical football team this year that gives everyone on their schedule their best shot.
The Wolverines lost a tough game to Logan View to end last season, but BRLD will get their shot at redemption this year.
I would say losing that game had to be disappointing, but it's last year and in the past, and all the Wolverines can do now is move forward and prepare for this season.
BRLD opens up the season on Friday at Hartington Cedar Catholic. Maresh says the Trojans along with the next two teams the Wolverines play after that are powerhouses. "Yeah we start off with a real tough schedule there. Especially Hartington CC, they'll have a lot of kids out for football, and ready to compete and uphold that tradition that they've been building for years. And then Crofton...they know how to win and they know how to play tough physical football, so that'll be another challenge right afterwards. And then we go to a very athletic Ponca that comes to Bancroft. So we're going to find out a lot about our young kids real early."
The Wolverines lost to all three teams in the first year of the co-op last season.
I wouldn't expect BRLD to knock off the Trojans or Warriors, but I think the Wolverines can beat the Indians, especially with the game being in Bancroft.
BRLD only lost 43-36 to Ponca last year, and I think the Wolverines can find a way to beat the Indians this time around.
That would be a huge win for BRLD, but first things first, the Wolverines have to worry about and focus on Hartington Cedar Catholic.
You can bet the Trojans will be locked and loaded and ready to go Friday night. BRLD will be breaking in some new players, but a lot return so I expect the Wolverines to hold their own and compete.
BRLD is in District C2-3 with Logan View, Oakland-Craig, Fremont Bergan, Tekamah-Herman, and Wisner-Pilger.
I think the District will come down to Oakland-Craig and Bergan, but I would say the Wolverines are equal to Logan View in that they are either the 3rd or 4th best team in the District.
BRLD might be a couple of years away from making the playoffs or winning a district title, but I look for the Wolverines to take some steps this year and win 4 or 5 games.
I would say either 4-5 or 5-4 is likely for BRLD.
The Wolverines are good and talented, just not elite yet, in my opinion.
BRLD has good size and speed though, something you definitely need in Class C-2 Football.
I look for the Wolverines to compete with everyone on their schedule again, and perhaps surprise a team or two and upset them.
It wouldn't surprise me to see BRLD upset one or two of the powers on their schedule.
With that said, the Wolverines have to beat the teams they're supposed to and keep fighting and grinding throughout the season in order to be good.
2017 BRLD Wolverines Football Schedule:
08/25/17 @ Hartington Cedar Catholic
09/01/17 @ Crofton
09/15/17 Omaha Brownell Talbot
09/22/17 @ Oakland-Craig
10/06/17 @ Wisner-Pilger
10/13/17 Archbishop Bergan
10/20/17 @ Logan View
Colors: Red and White
Head Coach: Anthony Ruzicka (7th season) (19-31 career record)
2016 record: 1-7
Returning Starters: 3 offense 5 defense
Scribner-Snyder returns 3 offensive and 5 defensive starters from last year's 1-7 team. Head Coach Anthony Ruzicka tells KTIC Sports who the starting quarterback and fullback will be. "Quarterback we're going to try Austin Peters (6'0, 160). He started at tight end for us last year. He's a Junior. Very football smart. Good athlete. Has improved his running form very much. And he'll do well there. And Sebastian Arnold (6'0, 190) will step in at fullback. Probably will do a very large portion of the ball carrying for us I would think. He's about 190 pounds. And runs well. He's a hard runner. Goes downhill, nothing fancy. And he likes to hit and likes contact."
Ruzicka adds the Trojans have some size. "Strengths as far as offense we're going to be very big across the front line. If we played tonight from end to end we would be 265, 300-315 somewhere in there, 300 at the center, 180 at the guard, and 195 at the other tight end."
Ruzicka says the linemen are big and athletic too, not just big. They include Harrison Riggle (6'5, 300 SR), Hunter Adams (5'10, 185 SR), and Victor Zamora (5'10, 310 SR).
Another running back that returns is Josh McMillen (5'10, 145 SR).
15 kids are out for the team this year, and Ruzicka says 9-10 kids will be relied upon to play most of the time.
There are 4 freshmen and a sophomore out for the team.
He adds his squad won't have a lot of speed.
Ruzicka expects his team to win at least a couple of games with a chance to win 4.
I think a couple of wins is a definite for this team, and I think the Trojans can make the playoffs.
Scribner-Snyder has a tough schedule, but I see the size of Scribner-Snyder being able to wear down some opponents.
The Trojans must tackle well in space, and not allow big plays given the fact they don't have a lot of speed.
You can bet teams will try and run to the outside against Scribner-Snyder as opposed to the interior of their defense.
I'd say the Trojans' best bet is to spread out some guys on defense and rely on their big defensive linemen to control things in the trenches.
It's important for the Trojans to avoid injuries and stay healthy given their lack of depth and how many kids are out for the team.
Scribner-Snyder gets their season started on Friday at Mead. Ruzicka says the Raiders will be short on numbers and young for the most part. "Looking at what they return...I know they're going to be a little shorter on numbers again. I mean they had a really good senior class last year. They graduated a boatload of production. But I know Quinn, very very good player, gave us a lot of fits on running some of the jet sweep type stuff. He's fast, he's got good vision, he's a good athlete, he's going to be tough. But they're going to have to rely on a lot of the younger kids I think, and yeah on paper it looks like it should be a good game, and I think we'll be competitive with them. And so hopefully it's one we can get back this year."
Mead shutout Scribner-Snyder 63-0 in Scribner last year.
I definitely think Friday's game, and most of the Trojans' other games this year for that matter, will be closer than they were last year.
Scribner-Snyder got off to a slow start last year, and was inconsistent to say the least you could say.
I think the Trojans got better as the year went on though, and so I think Scribner-Snyder should be ready and firing on all cylinders to start this season.
I would expect the Trojans to have a strong showing in all of their games this year.
Scribner-Snyder is in District D2-3 with Humphrey St. Francis, Osceola, Cedar Bluffs, and Fullerton.
You can bet no district game will be easy, but I fully expect the Trojans to compete and give all four of those teams everything they have.
I think everyone on the Trojans' schedule will get Scribner-Snyder's best shot.
The Trojans ought to be able to smack and rough up some of their opponents at the very least.
I think the playoffs are a very likely possibility for Scribner-Snyder. Losing Jadyn Smeal to GACC definitely hurts, but if Peters and Arnold can run behind that big offensive line, and take care of the ball, the Trojans should go on to have a good season.
Scribner-Snyder has to execute, not commit silly penalties, and not turn the ball over though. The Trojans also must force turnovers themselves.
Scribner-Snyder is no doubt relying heavily on their top guys to produce, but if all 15 guys can find a way to make some sort of contribution every game and throughout the season...then the Trojans should be a tough out.
2017 Scribner-Snyder Trojans Football Schedule:
08/25/17 @ Mead
08/31/17 @ Bloomfield
09/22/17 @ Fullerton
09/29/17 @ Humphrey St. Francis
10/20/17 Cedar Bluffs
Colors: Orange and White
Head Coach: Joe Anderson (8th season) (56-19 record)
2016 record: 9-2 (lost to Battle Creek in State Quarterfinals)
Returning Starters: 8 offense 7 defense
Oakland-Craig returns 8 starters on offense and 7 on defense from last year's 9-2 State Quarterfinal team. One of those players is Garrett Seagren (6'2, 180 WR/DB SR), according to Head Coach Joe Anderson. "Yeah Garrett's a great player. He's just a great all around athlete. He's an all-state basketball player. Last year he was an All-state football player for us. So if you look at the last two years he's had big years in receiving, and we expect more out of him on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. And he's definitely going to be one of our leaders of our team."
Seagren has compiled 775 yards receiving on 38 receptions with 11 touchdowns for the Knights.
Anderson adds Seagren is a very integral part of the team. "Garrett is a very explosive athlete. His combination of good speed, allusiveness, great hands, and leaping ability really make him hard to cover one on one. He has 1,375 yards receiving in his last two seasons. Also good leader back at safety, and very good punt returner. Great athlete who also excels on the basketball court."
Anderson says he expects big things out of the skill guys besides Seagren. "What's going to really compliment him is we have some other really good receivers. Kobe Benne (5'10, 165 WR/DB SR) had a really breakout year his first year playing football last year, and he's going to really do some big things. If people key on Garrett he's going to have a chance to make some big plays. Garrison Dodge (5'8, 160 WR/DB JR), Robby Mayberry (5'10, 170 RB/S JR) are some other guys that our Quarterback's been finding a way to get them the ball. Ben Smith (6'9, 160 RB SR) who's a kid in the backfield. Not a real big kid, but he had 300 or 400 or 500 yards last year. He looks really good from the backfield right now. He's a senior, a kid that's played a lot of football. Is just a tough kid."
Smith and Mayberry figure to shoulder more of the load at running back this season after All-Stater Hoss Smith was lost to graduation.
Returners on the offensive line include Marcos Quintero 5'10, 195 OL/DE SR), Tyson Harney (6'3, 220 OL/DL SR), and Cole Bures (6'3, 190 OL/DL JR). The Knights also have 260 pound JR Justyn Hale and 6'5 220 pounder Laurence Brands.
On defense, Oakland-Craig Wyatt Uhing (5'9, 160 JR) and Daniel Sechler (5'10, 175 JR) return at linebacker while Jefferson McNeill (5'11, 160 JR) will see some time at cornerback. Ian Lundquist (5'9, 170 SO) and Jared Mulder (5'11, 180 JR) are also expected to be in the mix at linebacker as well.
Anderson gives this assessment of his team. "Smith and Robby Mayberry give us some good experience at RB. Up front we are lead by Quintero. Harney and Bures also started all 11 games last year on the line. Hale and Brands give us two big bodies to plug into the missing spots. John Werner and Max Ward could also help there as well. Defensively our front three should be solid with Quintero (64 tackles), Hale, Harney and Bures. Uhing, Smith, Sechler all have starting experience at LB with Werner and Mulder ready to step in as well. Our DB return 4 guys with starting exp in Seagren, Mayberry, McNeill, and Benne. Overall it should be a solid year. We will still be relying on quite a few sophomores and juniors to step up as our senior class is not very big (5 kids). Our schedule will test us early in the year."
Oakland-Craig begins the season next Friday at home against Malcolm. Anderson says the Clippers are a solid team. "Yeah one game at a time. Malcolm's had a good program. So Coach Amen runs a really good program over there. They always have a winning record. So we're going to have to be ready to go in that first game you never know a lot of things can happen. Turnovers, penalties, and you never know what to expect in that first game."
The Knights won last year's game 34-3 in Malcolm.
I don't think Oakland-Craig will have a whole lot of trouble with the Clippers in the end, but the next two games could be very tricky.
The Knights have out of district games at Battle Creek and at home against defending Class C-2 Runner-up Crofton the following two weeks.
I think this Oakland-Craig team will be tested early, but look for the Knights to weather the storm and go on to have a fine season.
I think Oakland-Craig will hit their stride come District Play.
Oakland-Craig is in District C2-3 with Logan View, BRLD, Wisner-Pilger, Fremont Bergan, and Tekamah-Herman.
I feel the District will come down to Oakland-Craig and Fremont Bergan with Logan View in the mix.
All of Oakland-Craig's road games are very tricky this year. The Knights will definitely have to figure out a way to win at least a couple of games away from home to make the playoffs.
The good news for Oakland-Craig is they have a lot of experience and talent back. The Knights will use two quarterbacks in Evan Reinert and Mulder so I look for each of those players to perform at a high level.
Making the playoffs is never easy, especially in Class C-2 with the field being only 16 teams, but when it is all said and done I look for Oakland-Craig to be right there.
Losing Hoss Smith at running back definitely hurts, but I look for Ben Smith and Mayberry to pick up the slack and help lead this team to the playoffs.
The Knights definitely have their work cut out for them this year, but look for Oakland-Craig to have a typical Oakland-Craig like season, which is going 8-1 or 7-2, or something like that.
I think a first round playoff win is very possible for this team too, and the Knights might even be able to make it farther than the quarterfinals this time around.
2017 Oakland-Craig Knights Football Schedule:
09/01/17 @ Battle Creek
09/15/17 @ Ponca
10/06/17 @ Logan View
10/20/17 @ Archbishop Bergan
Team: Guardian Angels Central Catholic
Colors: Blue and White
Head Coach: Dave Ridder (15th season)
2015 record: 12-1 (Lost State Championship Game to Burwell)
Returning Starters: 3 offense 3 defense
The Guardian Angels Central Catholic Football Team aims to have another big season this year after finishing runner-up in Class D-1 a year ago. Head Coach Dave Ridder says the Bluejays bring back quite a bit of talent. "Derek Petz (5'9, 175) will be Quarterback, and (Jared) Minnick's (6'0, 180) back at running back. And we have Jacob Yosten (5'7, 240) and Michael Baumert (5'6, 190), and Jaden Rahn (210). And then Ross Klitz is back also, and we also have Casey Doernemann (6'4, 245) as a Sophomore, who played a lot last year as a freshman. We have some pretty good talented guys coming back. It's going to be a mix of sophomores, juniors, and seniors."
Teams like GACC don't rebuild, they simply reload. I think a lot of people underestimated the Bluejays last year, and they proved a lot of doubters wrong.
I look at this season as a similar type situation. I've been hearing from some that they don't expect GACC to do what they did last year. I would say the Bluejays have another opportunity to prove doubters wrong and have another fantastic season.
I think GACC will be a team that gets stronger as the season goes along, and will play their best football at the end of the season, and make another great postseason run.
The Bluejays graduated a lot from last year, there's no doubt about that, but GACC has a lot of pride and tradition, and always finds a way to be good.
I look for this year to be no exception. I think the Bluejays will put a quality product on the field just like they have for a long time prior.
Last year's motto was average ordinary guys so we'll see what GACC's motto or slogan is for this year.
One thing is for sure though...I fully expect the Bluejays to bring the lunch pail to work every day in practice and in games, and work their tails off throughout the season.
I'm sure GACC is hungry to get another shot at a state title after losing out in last year's game.
GACC, who went 12-1 last season, starts their year next Friday at Nebraska Christian.
Ridder says the Eagles are a hard nosed team. "Oh they're a good physical team, and they like to run the ball. Obviously a lot of teams like to run the ball. And I believe they have their Quarterback back, and he did a nice job for them last year. So we'll have some things we have to finish up with them, and I think we want to try to move the ball on the ground a little bit more this year than last."
The Bluejays won last year's game 28-14.
GACC has a couple of challenging games right off the bat against Nebraska Christian and Clarkson/Leigh. Road games against Nebraska City Lourdes and Pender could prove to be very difficult as well.
GACC had their tough games at home last year, and this year they are on the road so we shall see if that makes a difference.
Ridder says his team needs to play sound football week in and week out to make another playoff run. "We need the kids to be consistent and play well every game. And there's some games that might not be as challenged as much as we'd like, and those are the games that are tough where you have to make yourself better for when you get into that playoff run. And take care of the ball and play good defense. Anytime you play good defense you always have a chance to win things."
The Bluejays have made it to the quarterfinals or further in each of the last three seasons.
I would say the key to making that 4 years in a row is not taking the "cupcake" opponents lightly.
GACC has to respect every opponent, and work hard at getting better each and every week.
I'm sure the Bluejays would like to play a tougher schedule, but all GACC can do is play the hand they are dealt.
The Bluejays have to take things one game at a time and really focus in on who they are playing each week.
GACC can't look past anyone, and has to stay humble and committed to excellence.
With all this said, it's GACC, and I'm sure the Bluejays will find a way to be a great team once again this season.
GACC is in District D1-2 with Pender, Homer, Omaha Nation, and Winnebago.
2017 GACC Bluejays Football Schedule:
08/25/17 @ Nebraska Christian
09/15/17 @ Lourdes Central Catholic
09/22/17 Omaha Nation
10/06/17 @ Homer
10/20/17 @ Pender
Colors: Green, Black, Silver
Head Coach: Mike Speirs (22nd season) (199-41 record)
2016 record: 7-3 (lost to Nebraska City Lourdes in Second Round of Playoffs)
Returning Starters: 6 offense 6 defense
Howells-Dodge is expecting big things this year as the Jaguars return 6 starters on each side of the ball from last year's 7-3 playoff team. Head Coach Mike Speirs says three players return on the offensive line. "We've always kind of tried to build our teams in our offensive line, and that's nice we return three starters there in Ryan Macholan (6'2, 225 SR), starting at Center for his 3rd year. Lane Hegemann (6'3, 215 JR), will be starting at Guard. And then Kade Hegemann (5'11, 165), who's only a junior, but he's started since he was a freshman."
Speirs says the entire offensive backfield returns, including QB Dax VanLengen (6'2, 210 SR), Jordan Brichacek (5'11, 170 SR) at Fullback, and Dylan Horejsi (5'10, 175 JR) at Running Back.
Speirs adds the Jaguars returns all of their DB's, two defensive linemen, and one linebacker on defense.
This should be a monster year for Howells-Dodge. The Jaguars had a very good 2016 campaign, and quite honestly Howells-Dodge should be ready to rock and roll again.
You never want to get too ahead of yourself, but don't be surprised of the Jaguars are playing at Memorial Stadium come November.
Howells-Dodge has to be considered a legit favorite to make it to the Class D-1 title game, and win a state championship.
The Jaguars should be able to make a deep playoff run at the very least.
Expectations couldn't be any higher for Howells-Dodge. The Jaguars have to be humble and confident, but not over confident, about their chances of being a very good team this year.
Howells-Dodge has to work hard week in and week out, and do everything in their power to have a great season.
The sky is the limit for the Jaguars as far as I'm concerned. It could definitely be a banner year for the boys in Green, Silver, and Black.
It really could be Howells-Dodge's year. I truly believe that. This team is built to win, and built to win now. But again, the Jaguars have to remain humble.
Howells-Dodge begins the season on Friday, August 25th at home against East Butler. Speirs says his team will be challenged by the Tigers. "I really expect East Butler to be one of the top teams in D-1 this year. They return a ton of experience. They have some very talented kids. Their tight end/linebacker the Havlovic kid is probably as good as anybody in 8-man football. And then they couple him with their Quarterback, who last year we got lucky. He had been injured in 2015. So he'd come back, we played him first game back, after a year off, and maybe he was a little bit rusty. But he's a quality kid."
Speirs says East Butler returns all 8 starters from last year.
The Tigers figure to be a tough challenge as does Osmond, Neligh-Oakdale, Clarkson/Leigh, and Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family.
We'll see what happens, but one thing is for sure...the Jaguars will be battle tested come playoff time assuming they make the playoffs.
I think Howells-Dodge has an opportunity to go undefeated in the regular season, but the Jaguars have to take things one game and one week at a time.
Howells-Dodge can't get too overconfident and cocky and too ahead of themselves.
The Jaguars have to be ready to work hard every day in practice, and in every game.
Howells-Dodge can't have anyone take a play off at any point in the season, although things like that do happen.
The Jaguars have to find a way to achieve the glory that great Howells and Dodge teams did in the past.
These are two very proud communities, and I'm sure it would mean a lot to both of them for Howells-Dodge to win a state championship this year.
The Howells Bobcats and Dodge Pirates had a ton of success from 2011 and before, but now it's time for the Howells-Dodge Jaguars to lay claim to fame, and have a great season that hopefully culminates in a state championship.
The schedule has it's challenges, but I look for Howells-Dodge to be a very tough team week in and week out.
I think you will see the Jaguars bring and play their best every week they take to the field, making it very difficult for teams to beat them.
Howells-Dodge was a very strong offensive team last year, and had some great defensive games. If the Jaguars can consistently turn in strong defensive performances this year though they should be in great shape to have an undefeated regular season and make a strong playoff push.
Howells-Dodge is in District D1-4 with Clarkson/Leigh, Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family, Elgin Public/Pope John, and Neligh Oakdale.
Tough district, but the Jaguars have a really good chance of winning it, in my opinion.
2017 Howells-Dodge Jaguars Football Schedule:
08/25/17 East Butler
09/01/17 @ Osmond
09/08/17 @ Omaha Nation
09/29/17 Elgin Public/Pope John
10/06/17 @ Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family
10/20/17 @ Clarkson/Leigh
Team: West Point-Beemer
Colors: Red and White
Head Coach: Troy Schlueter (2nd season)
2016 record: 4-5
Returning Starters: 9 offense 7 defense
The West Point-Beemer Football team brings back 9 starters on offense and 7 on defense. 2nd year Head Coach Troy Schlueter says two of the starters lost are significant losses though. "A couple guys that you won't see that you saw last year are Riley Berg and Dylan James. They were some of the key contributors that we'll pry miss a little bit. And there were 7 seniors last year, miss all them a bunch, but those two were pry the main contributors."
Schlueter says this year's backs are more straight ahead physical runners while Berg was more of a gamebreaker speed guy.
The Cadets return starting quarterback Cole Hughes (6'0, 160 JR) as well as junior receivers Ben VanderGriend (5'10, 155), and Kade Hughes ((6'1, 160).
At running back, Hunter Pilakowski (5'9, 160 SR) and Gage Vance (5'9, 160 JR) return for West Point-Beemer.
Ronny Petersen (5'10, 170 SR), Chase Streeter (6'1, 200 SR), Austin Streeter (6'2, 195 SR), Devon Priestly (6'1, 260 SR), and Gustavo Villasenor (5'9, 1270 SR) all return on the offensive line for the Cadets.
Blake Anderson (6'2, 190 JR), Chase Streeter, and Austin Streeter will help make up the defensive line for the Cadets while Petersen, Vance, and Pilakowski will patrol things at linebacker for West Point-Beemer.
Kade Hughes and VanderGriend along with Cole Hughes will help make up the Cadets' secondary.
The time is now for West Point-Beemer, in my opinion. The Cadets have a lot of senior experience and leadership up front, and a lot of juniors at the skill positions.
How well these kids come together from now until the start of the Arlington game could dictate how the season goes for West Point-Beemer.
I think the Cadets have an opportunity to have a very respectable season. I think it all comes down to how hard West Point-Beemer wants to work, and how physical of a team they are.
The Cadets can't be afraid to hit and light people up.
West Point-Beemer's season opener against Arlington should provide for a very stingy test for the Cadets, and help prepare them for what they are going to see down the line in district play.
I look for West Point-Beemer to be a team that plays hard nosed football until the whistle, and doesn't ever give up.
West Point-Beemer opens up the season next Friday at Arlington in a game that will be carried on 107.9 the Bull. Schlueter says the Cadets respect the Eagles a lot and like how they play. "Arlington we respect a lot. I really have enjoyed talking with their Head Coach...Gubbels. He's a track coach too so I talk to him during track season quite a bit. And a little bit this summer too actually at 7 on 7, stuff like that. But I love how they play to be honest with you. They're physical and they want to hit. That's football to me. And I think it's a great opening game for us because last year it showed us hey we are not close to being physical. And then we got more physical."
Arlington beat the Cadets 41-0 in last year's season opener in West Point. West Point-Beemer finished last season with a 4-5 record, but lost their last three games.
I think how last season ended has to leave a sour taste in the Cadets' mouths, especially given what transpired at the end of the Wayne game.
The good news is West Point-Beemer has had an entire year to digest what went wrong at the end of last season, and should be ready to fix the problems this year.
It's not how you start it's how you finish, and the Cadets just need to work on finishing stronger this year, in my opinion.
West Point-Beemer got off to a respectable start last year....now it's just a matter of sealing the deal in games at the end of the season this time around.
I look for the Cadets to go 5-4 or 6-3 perhaps, possibly upsetting Norfolk Catholic or Pierce.
West Point-Beemer is in a very strong district C1-5 with O'Neill, Norfolk Catholic, Pierce, Wayne, and Madison.
The schedule certainly presents a lot of challenges for the Cadets, but to be the best you have to beat the best, and that's what West Point-Beemer will try and accomplish this season.
You want to always take steps forward and progress as a program, and for the Cadets to do that this season I think they need to finish with a winning record.
4-5 is respectable, but I think West Point-Beemer would feel like no progress was made if they go 4-5 or worse this year.
It's important for the Cadets to keep making strides and improving as a program, and if West Point-Beemer could finish with a winning record, I think it would be a big deal for this program and the two communities.
It's been a long time since the Cadets have had a winning season, but I think West Point-Beemer has a chance to do that this season, and turn some heads.
I definitely think this program is headed in the right direction.
2017 West Point-Beemer Cadets Football Schedule:
08/25/17 @ Arlington
09/01/17 North Bend Central
09/15/17 @ Fort Calhoun
09/29/17 @ Madison
10/06/17 @ Wayne
10/20/17 Norfolk Catholic
Colors: Purple and Gold
Head Coach: Ken Swanson (8th season) (28-33 record)
2016 record: 4-5 (lost to Humphrey St. Francis in first round of playoffs)
Returning Starters: 5 offense 6 defense
Emerson-Hubbard looks for another successful season in 2017 after making the playoffs for the 4th straight year a season ago.
Back for the Pirates on offense and defense are Blake Eriksen (230, SR RB/LB), Josh Sebade (175, SR TE/LB), Jacob Kneifl (215, JR TE/DL), and Connar Newton (180, JR TE/DL),
Keaton Wriedt (200, SR OL/DL) is a returning starter on offense while Nolan Ostrand (150, JR RB/LB) and Spencer Burcham (150, JR RB/DB) are returning starters on defense.
Head Coach Ken Swanson says his team is almost set except for at QB and one of the RB spots. "We have some very talented and experience players returning at several positions, however we must replace our QB and one of our RBs this season on offense. Defensively, we return 6 players including all of our LBs who should be the strength of our defense."
Swanson says Sebade is a very versatile player. "Josh is a two time All-Distrct LB in both his Sophomore and Junior seasons. In both of those seasons he lead our team in tackling. As a junior, Josh recorded 79 solo, 28 assists and 107 total tackles. He had 2 sacks, 4 TFL, and 1 INT. As a sophomore, Josh recorded 60 solo, 32 assists and 92 total tackles. On offense, Josh played at Guard and TE and was mostly used as a blocker. Josh's role could expand as we could easily play him at any position on the field."
Sebade's versatility should no doubt make Emerson-Hubbard a force to be reckoned with this season.
Swanson adds Erisken is a good hard nosed player. "Blake was an All-District LB last season in his junior season. He recorded 39 solo, 13 assists, and 52 total tackles. On offense Blake rushed for 325 yads on 56 carries averaging 5.8 yards a carry from his FB position. Blake is a strong and physical kid who plays with an aggressive mentality."
Eriksen will no doubt bring some toughness and physicality to the Pirates' attack.
Swanson says Kneifl is another valuable member of the team. "As a sophomore, Jacob was the leading receiver on our team with 11 catches for 178 yards and 2 TDs. We were not a team that threw the ball very often but when we did Jacob was a main target. Jacob also started at DE where he recorded 34 solo, 15 assists and 49 total tackles and 2 sacks. Not bad for a defensive end. Going into the coming season we anticipate that Jacob will be a major part of the success of our team."
These three players ought to to be big contributors for Emerson-Hubbard this season.
Emerson-Hubbard is looking to reach the playoffs for the 5th straight year, and that's something that is very attainable and possible for the Pirates, in my opinion.
Emerson-Hubbard opens the season with winnable games against Hartington-Newcastle and Scribner-Snyder.
A September 15th home date with Humphrey St. Francis figures to be very tough, but the Pirates should be able to win the next two weeks against Wausa and Winside.
Wynot and Randolph are always tough, and Allen might be tough like they were last year.
So I look for Emerson-Hubbard to go 5-3 or 4-4, but perhaps 6-2 if they can beat someone like Randolph and take care of business against the non juggernauts on their schedule.
The Pirates are in District D2-4 with Allen, Randolph, Wausa, Winside, and Wynot.
Emerson-Hubbard has a lot of experience and veteran leadership back, and that should help out their cause tremendously.
I think the Pirates will be a very tough, hard nosed team this season, and will give everyone their best shot week in and week out.
Like any team, Emerson-Hubbard has to limit turnovers, penalties, and must avoid injuries.
The Pirates also have to catch breaks and create turnovers and good field position for themselves.
The opportunity for a very solid campaign is there for Emerson-Hubbard....the Pirates just have to play up to their potential and fight hard all season long.
Emerson-Hubbard's first game isn't until September 1st so the Pirates will no doubt benefit from some extra practice time before their first game.
We'll see how things shake out, but I fully expect Emerson-Hubbard to be playing in the postseason come the end of October.
The Pirates host Hartington-Newcastle on Friday, September 1st to begin the year.
2017 Emerson-Hubbard Pirates Football Schedule:
09/08/17 @ Scribner-Snyder
09/15/17 Humphrey St. Francis
09/29/17 @ Winside
10/06/17 @ Wynot
10/20/17 @ Randolph
Colors: Blue and White
Head Coach: Adam James (9th season) (20-52 record)
2016 record: 3-5
Returning Starters: 4 offense 4 defense
The Winnebago Indians hope to build off last year's success that saw them go 3-5.
Returning starters include Tyrese Gorrin (5'10, 165 JR RB/DB), Derrell Zagurski (6'2, 280 SR OL/DL), Prosper Gilpin (6'0, 235 JR OL/DL), and Zeke Walker (5'11, 175 SR TE/DL).
Another player likely to play for Winnebago is T.J. Frenchman (6'0, 150 JR QB/DB).
One player the Indians must replace is Drake Gorrin. He was a monster for Winnebago last year.
The Indians' base offense is Ace while the base defense is 3-4.
The good news for Winnebago is they return half their starters on offense and defense.
Now it's just a matter of the newcomers and underclassmen developing, growing, and getting better as the season goes along.
The Indians are ineligible for the playoffs due to playing in a lower class than they would normally be classified, but that doesn't mean Winnebago's season doesn't matter.
These kids are playing for Bago pride, and I'm sure the Indians would like to have a season to remember....something that makes everyone proud.
I'm sure the Winnebago Community is already proud of the players and coaches no matter what, but if the Indians can win more games than they're predicted to then it could make for something special in these kids' lives....something they will remember for years to come.
I look for Frenchman and Gorrin to light things up offensively, and for Zagurski, Gilpin, and Walker to anchor things up front.
I think these 5 players, among other players, will do special things for the Indians this season.
It will be interesting to see who else starts and takes the field for Winnebago this year. It's unclear what positions may be up for grabs and who is going to get a starting spot.
Winnebago won 3 games a year ago, and is no doubt looking to win more this year.
The schedule isn't exactly a cakewalk though, and five of the Indians' games are on the road.
Winnebago has three games on the road in a row following the season opener at home against Wakefield.
The Indians are in District D1-2 with Guardian Angels Central Catholic, Homer, Omaha Nation, and Pender.
I think Winnebago has a chance to go at least 2-2 in District Play.
The Indians' non district schedule includes contests against Wakefield, Plainview, Johnson-Brock, and Hartington-Newcastle.
I think Winnebago has a chance to win one or two of those games as well.
When it's all said and done I look for the Indians' final record to be between 4-4 and 2-6.
Winnebago has to be much better defensively than they were last year. The Indians gave up over 60 points in 4 of their games, giving up 91 against Wakefield. Winnebago also allowed 52 points against Plainview and 44 against Pender. The Indians gave up 36 to Omaha Nation.
So Winnebago has to be more physical this year, tackle better, take good angles to the ball and ball carriers, and has to keep their offense on the field as much as possible.
The Indians had a pretty impressive offense last year...now it's a matter of getting both the offense and defense to gel in order to win more games this season.
Winnebago also has to be balanced on offense...running and passing the ball effectively while getting the ball to their playmakers out in space.
Winnebago opens up the season at home on Friday, August 25th against Wakefield.
2017 Winnebago Indians Football Schedule:
09/01/17 @ Plainview
09/08/17 @ Johnson-Brock
09/15/17 @ Hartington-Newcastle
10/06/17 @ Omaha Nation
10/13/17 @ Guardian Angels Central Catholic
Colors: Orange and Black
Head Coach: David Stoddard (4th season) (20-9 career record)
2016 record: 6-4 (lost to Wilber-Clatonia in first round of playoffs)
Returning Starters: 3 offense 5 defense
The Stanton Mustangs look to be good again this season after upsetting Battle Creek in last year's regular season finale to make the postseason.
Head Coach David Stoddard says the Mustangs have plenty of talent and experience coming back on offense, but will be breaking in new some newcomers too. "Although Stanton loses 8 starters on offense, the three returning starters are in the offensive line. Ashton Flood (5'10, 180 SR), Nathan Arens (6'4, 215 JR), and Ben Wilke (6'0, 180 SO) started all 10 games for the Mustangs last year. Rounding out the offensive line will be candidates Sam Bates (6'4, 250 JR), Jackson Benson (5'8, 225 SO), and Jakeb Myers (5'9, 230 JR). Returning skill players include Beau Wilke, Kadyn Fernau, (5'10, 165 JR RB), who saw a lot of varsity action. Also look for Cade Goger (5'9, 165 JR) to be in the mix. Gauge Erickson (5'8, 155 SO), Issiah Borgman (5'10, 170 SO), and Alek Reese (5'10, 175 JR) look to compete for the starting fullback job. Stanton's TE positions are open...look for Sutton Pohlman (5'11, 165 FR), Morghan Prusa, and Zak Hansen (5'5, 120 JR) look to fill the void. The starting QB job is also up for grabs. Marcus Spotanski (6'1, 170 JR), T.J. Larson (5'9, 130 SO), Sutton Pohlman, and Matt Reese (5'7, 135 FR) will all have an opportunity to compete for the job."
Stoddard adds the Mustangs should be solid on defense. "On Defense Stanton returns 6 starters. The defensive line returns Ben Hansen (6’1-240 SR.), Tayton Liermann (6’0-240 SR.), and Arens, all are a physical presence. The second level will rely on LB's Flood, Gauge Eriksen, Borgman, and Alek Reese. Erickson started last year as a freshman recording 40 tackles and 2 sacks. The secondary will be led by Senior Beau Wilke who had 44 tackles and 1 int. Look for Fernau, Goger, Spotanski, Prusa and Pohlman to step in as well throughout the season. Team Weakness: Stanton will need to create depth at each position on both sides of the ball (young inexperienced)."
It sounds to me like Stanton has a lot of raw, inexperienced talent ready to take the field. The Mustangs will need to figure things out in non district play in order to be ready for the gauntlet district they are in.
Stoddard says Beau Wilke is the Mustangs' do it all everything player. "Beau has all the physical tools for a breakout 2017 campaign. He started at CB and played a lot of running back in Stanton's 3 back offense. His ability to cover one on one, tackle in space, and exhibits great footwork. Wilke is also the leading candidate to take over the kicking and punting duties for the Mustangs heading into next season. He is also a leader and will do whatever is asked from him on and off the field."
It certainly sounds like Wilke could have a very nice season for Stanton.
Stoddard says Fernau has an opportunity to contribute in a big way. "Fernau rushed for 13-188 yds and 2 TD's before his season was ended due to injury. He has the ability to run with speed and power as he simply has a knack for the position. Fernau will move from a Nickel corner to a full time starter in the secondary where he is as equally gifted. Look for Fernau to have a breakout 2017, and is one of the TOP underclassmen in C2."
Stoddard is looking for Ben Hansen to have a big season on the lines for the Mustangs. "Hansen is a returning letter winner on the defensive line. He has tremendous footwork and hands at his size. Ben will be a force once again in the interior defensive line and will also start at offensive tackle. The Mustangs will lean on Hansen as one of 3 returning starters on the defensive line and will join an offensive line that returns 3 starters as well."
Stoddard says Goger is a valuable speedster for Stanton. "Goger has the speed to be a dangerous perimeter runner, a state track qualifier in sprints, look for Goger to come onto the scene his junior year as a starting RB in Stanton's 3 back offense. Cade will also start on defense in the secondary where he is a great cover corner, while developing his reads."
I look for this raw talent to develop over the course of non district play, and be ready to go toe to toe with the big boys and powerhouses in District C2-4.
Stanton is looking for another solid campaign that would no doubt include another trip to the playoffs.
It appears the Mustangs have a lot of young talent that needs to be developed to hang with some of the big boys and powerhouses in District C2-4.
District foes include Battle Creek, Crofton, Hartington Cedar Catholic, Lutheran High Northeast, and Ponca.
Stanton gets three of their district opponents at home so that should help the Mustangs' chances of reaching the playoffs.
I think only time will tell how good this Stanton team is. It's important for the newcomers and underclassmen to develop quickly and get things figured out as soon as possible.
I think if the Mustangs play up to their potential and maximize their potential...they'll be there in the end.
Everyone has to mature fast though as teams like Crofton, Hartington Cedar Catholic, Battle Creek, and others figure to be locked and loaded once again.
The schedule is very challenging for Stanton so the Mustangs have to be ready to rock and roll each and every week they take to the field.
The non district slate includes matchups with Elmwood-Murdock, rival Wisner-Pilger, Cross County, and Logan View.
The Cross County and Logan View games could be tricky, but should serve as very good tests heading into district play.
Both games are on the road though so things certainly won't be easy.
The good news though is the first two games of the season are at home against teams that won a combined 3 games last season so Stanton should be fine.
The Mustangs have to stay healthy though. Stanton can't afford a lot of injuries given the fact they need to create depth on both sides of the ball. The Mustangs will need to be at full strength come district play.
The Mustangs open up the year on Friday, August 25th at home against Elmwood-Murdock.
2017 Stanton Mustangs Football Schedule:
09/08/17 @ Cross County
09/15/17 @ Logan View
09/22/17 Lutheran High Northeast
10/06/17 @ Ponca
10/13/17 Hartington Cedar Catholic
10/20/17 @ Battle Creek
Colors: Green and White
Head Coach: A.J. Burki (1st season)
2016 record: 1-8
Returning Starters: N/A
The Wisner-Pilger Football team is coming off a 1-8 season, but has a new Head Coach in A.J. Burki. Burki says his squad is ahead of the eight ball when it comes to practicing and transitioning. "We are putting in a new system offensively and defensively. And really luckily we went to camp right before we got going with the season and so we've kind of been able to keep the ball rolling. The boys have done a great job picking up on everything we've put in thus far. And so I feel like we're a little bit ahead of schedule from where I kind of expected us to be I guess on our first day. And so that's a great start to our season where we can get the ball rolling that well."
Burki says the Gators will run a 4-4 defense, and a pro set offense with a tight end and two backs, as well as a three back set once in a while.
Keegan Ruskamp is switching from wide receiver to quarterback. "Keegan Ruskamp has actually been our backup quarterback the last two years, which was when I came to Wisner. And the whole time he has played wide receiver cause we've needed somebody to give us another look and depth at that position. And so to be honest he's kind of been a natural quarterback for us from day one. And so even though we've got a new guy back there and we lost Cooper (Von Seggern) we've got somebody that's played the position so we don't feel too nervous in having a new guy there just for the sole fact that he's been playing quarterback as far as I know all four years of high school in some regard," Burki said.
Junior Jayden Raabe will be back to anchor the offensive and defensive lines after getting injured last season.
Mason Dimon will play Center and Dylan Uhing will play Guard. Colby Heller and Jacob Borgelt are expected to play defense for Wisner-Pilger.
Trenton Liermann is also expected to see playing time for the Gators.
I think Wisner-Pilger can be competitive and better last season, but the schedule is still very difficult.
With that said, I think the Gators would of had a much better season last year had they not been so banged up.
Wisner-Pilger went out with a bang against Tekamah-Herman to end last season, and I look for that win to carry over and help the Gators this season.
The biggest thing is winning the battle of the trenches, in my opinion. Wisner-Pilger has to be physical up front, and has to get off blocks and tackle well to have a good season.
Equally important is taking care of the ball and limiting penalties while forcing turnovers.
The Gators also have to be ready to bounce back and respond when hit with adversity. Wisner-Pilger can't just give up and fold when someone like Oakland-Craig goes up 7-0 or 14-0.
The biggest things for the Gators this season are laying a foundation and playing competitive football, in my opinion.
If Wisner-Pilger can be in ball games and not be out of contests by halftime then the season should be much more enjoyable for everyone involved.
Wisner-Pilger plays four teams that made the playoffs in Class C-2 last season, including defending C2-3 District Champion Oakland-Craig. Burki says teams have to be at their best every week in high school football. "The biggest thing I think is football is kind of that interesting entity in high school sports where game one is just as important as game eight unlike, and I might be speaking incorrectly, but unlike all of the other seasons. If you're not perfect at the beginning it's okay because come district tournament time that's when you need to peak...that's when you need to hit your stride. And so what our district does for us in football is it's a tough district. I mean there's no games where you can look past anybody. You're going to have to week-to-week compete at your very best."
Burki adds the key defensively to competing with and beating the tough teams on their schedule is holding teams to as few points as possible, which involves not giving up big plays and forcing teams to drive the length of the field. And offensively the key is controlling the ball and lengthening time of possession.
I look for Wisner-Pilger to be more competitive against teams like BRLD and Logan View, and maybe knock off the Wolverines.
There are five very tough games on the schedule those being Crofton, Stanton, Hartington Cedar Catholic, Oakland-Craig, and Fremont Bergan.
The Gators' best chance at wins figure to come against West Point-Beemer and Tekamah-Herman.
I think Wisner-Pilger is looking at something like 2-7 or 3-6, but being more competitive in their losses if they lose any games.
I think the Gators can be a good team, I just don't think they're going to become good overnight.
It takes time to develop and build a program, and I think if Wisner-Pilger can win more games than they did last year then that's a positive step in the right direction.
It's important for the Gators to play with confidence against the big boys, and don't get so down on themselves after falling behind if that's the case, in my opinion.
Wisner-Pilger is capable of becoming a good football program....kids just have to buy into what Burki is teaching them. And so far it sounds like that's what kids are doing.
The Gators open up the season at home against defending C-2 Runner-Up Crofton on Friday, August 25th.
2017 Wisner-Pilger Gators Football Schedule:
09/01/17 @ Stanton
09/08/17 @ West Point-Beemer
09/15/17 Hartington Cedar Catholic
09/22/17 Archbishop Bergan
09/29/17 @ Oakland-Craig
10/13/17 Logan View
10/20/17 @ Tekamah-Herman
Colors: Red, Blue, Gray
Head Coach: Jim Clarkson (18th season) (85-82 career record)
2016 record: 3-6 (lost to Nebraska City Lourdes in first round of playoffs)
Returning Starters: 5
The Clarkson/Leigh Football team is coming off a 3-6 season in which they made the playoffs. Head Coach Jim Clarkson says his team is experienced and fast, but not very big. "We did get a lot of experience this last year so I think we have I think about 5 starters, I think about on each side of the ball, 5-6 kids that at least played quite a bit. So yeah a little bit thinner...our offensive line will be a little smaller than we're used to, but we have some good speed, and we really got a good group of guys so hopefully we'll be able to compete."
The Patriots are also low on numbers this year, and have to replace Bradley Bunner, who was lost to graduation.
Clarkson/Leigh did sustain an injury during summer camp. Jacob Gall (5-10, 185 SR) the starting RB and LB will miss the start of the season, torn meniscus,, and Clarkson is hopeful the Patriots can get him back after the Bye. QB - Anthony Bruhn, started or rotated last year, moved to QB after Bunner injury last year. Has become a good runner and a very nice passer, according to Clarkson.
RB - Tommy McEvoy, Hector Mendoza (5'7, 135), Isaac Wiese (5'9, 145) - With the Gall injury the Freshmen McEvoy will probably be the feature back, Hector and Isaac are both explosive and get their share of carries.
TE - Haden Held (5'10, 175) is a returning starter solid player who has really made himself better in the weight room. Good hands but a solid blocker. Tim Zimmerman (6'0, 180) will see snaps at other TE when in double tight, Tim spent the summer in the National Guard, a physical kid.
OL- the O-Line is not 100% set as far who will play where but it looks like Cort Pokorney (5'11, 170) will play center, a little smaller than Clarkson/Leigh is used to but a smart kid who plays with heart. Alex Machmueller (6'2, 310) is the Patriots' big guy and he will probably play at one of the Guard spots, he did start at Center last year. John Langhorst (5'9, 185) - will be a first time starter at the other guard spot. Zimmerman may play some guard as well.
Defense - DL - Machmueller, Langhorst, Zimmerman, will be our main guys up front and we move them around a bit. If we want to get quicker we will put in Travis Stanley who is a scrappy kid who has really improved himself in off season workouts. He play numerous positions and will be our "quick" NG. LB - Pokorney will step in for Gall, and Gall will be missed while out a very good LB, Held started last year and is a very nice run stopping linebacker may play some DE against a spread team.
None of the guys are true three year starters, but Clarkson/Leigh does return pretty good experience from last year. The loss of Bunner will be impossible to replace, but Freshmen Tommy McEvoy looks the part coming in and Clarkson is expecting big things from the young guy.
Clarkson/Leigh begins the season on Friday, August 25th with a home game against Pender. Clarkson says the game figures to be a toss up and dog fight. "Yeah we really think it's a pretty even fight it looks like on paper. We actually saw them at summer camp this year. Just from our knowledge of them and we're very similar type teams. They got a little bit better size than us, but yeah I think it's a very important game for us, and probably for them as well. So I expect to have a donnybrook right there to open the season, and our kids are excited for that first game."
The Patriots won last year's game 58-50.
Clarkson/Leigh is seeking their 6th consecutive playoff appearance. Clarkson says the road won't be easy given who's in his team's district. "Our District is very solid. I know Neligh-Oakdale lost a lot of guys, but they're very well coached, and Coach Beacom really has a really unique system up there, and they do a very good job. And of course then there's Howells-Dodge, they're our rivals to the East of us here. They look pretty loaded. We're in for a rough go, but again our guys aren't going to back down from the fight, and we'll coach them up, and hopefully we'll be able to maybe sneak out a win or two, and maybe we can get a chance at the playoffs. But we got to win some of those games...some of those coin toss games. Like the Pender game for example. Those are going to be very important if we want to have any shot at seeing the postseason."
Clarkson/Leigh is in District D1-4 with Howells-Dodge, Neligh-Oakdale, Elgin Public/Pope John, and Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family.
The Patriots ended last season with a 52-8 loss at Nebraska City Lourdes in the first round of the playoffs.
Making the playoffs again will certainly be a difficult task. GACC, East Butler, and Howells-Dodge figure to be the toughest games on the schedule with Neligh-Oakdale, Pender, and Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family being the toss up games, in my opinion.
The Patriots probably would of had a better finish to last season had Bunner not gotten hurt. With that said, last season just goes to show a team can't rely on one player to do everything.
So I expect more players to step up individually for Clarkson/Leigh, and make a big impact this season.
Injuries are something the Patriots can absolutely not afford any more of though. I think Clarkson/Leigh has a good shot to make the playoffs again if they remain healthy.
I think Clarkson/Leigh could go 2-6 or 5-3. It really depends on how well the Patriots do in their toss up games.
Clarkson/Leigh has to take care of the ball, limit penalties, force turnovers, and win the field position battle to have a good season this year, in my opinion.
I think it will most likely be a typical 4-4 or 3-5 regular season for the Patriots as long as they stay healthy.
I'm sure it would be a big accomplishment to make the playoffs for the 6th year in a row.
2017 Clarkson/Leigh Patriots Football Schedule:
09/01/17 @ Guardian Angels Central Catholic
09/15/17 @ Omaha Nation
09/22/17 East Butler
09/29/17 @ Neligh-Oakdale
10/06/17 Elgin Public/Pope John
10/13/17 @ Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family
Team: Logan View
Colors: Blue and Gold
Head Coach: Dustin Sealey (2nd season)
2016 record: 4-5
Returning Starters: 6
The Logan View Football Team has their sights set on a good season in 2017. The Raiders went 4-5 in Head Coach Dustin Sealey's first year last year, knocking off BRLD 49-48 to end the regular season. Sealey says his team brings back quite a bit of talent on offense. "Yeah we got our Quarterback in Jacob Polk coming back, and our running back Brady Hull. And another kind of he's a slot receiver you could say, he's more of a utility guy for us, Nolan Miller. Eric French is going to play a little bit of a different position this year, coming back. And Lucas Schneck is also coming back. He should really help us on the offensive line and defensive line."
Returning Starters include Polk, Nathan Taylor (SR OL/LB 3 year starter), Miller (SR - Our utility man - 3 year Starter), Alex Miller (SO OL/DL 1 year starter), French (FB/OL/DL - 2 year starter), and Hull (RB/LB/ -3 year starter).
Logan View figures to be poised to make a run this season with lots of firepower back on offense. The Raiders lost some studs from last year though.
They include Brett Hull - OL/DL, Grant Meyer -RB/DB, Connor Miller -OL/DL, Max Christensen - WR /DB, and Andrew Poppe -WR/DB.
Logan View had a solid campaign in 2016, winning the games they were supposed to, but losing the difficult games on the schedule.
With that said, I look for a lot of those losses to tough teams to turn into wins this year. I think Logan View has a very good shot at making the playoffs, and it would be a tremendous accomplishment to play past October 20th without a doubt.
The Raiders have a fairly tough schedule, but if Logan View can take care of business against the teams they're supposed to beat, and spring an upset or two and win a couple of their toss up games, there's no reason to think the Raiders won't be in the postseason.
Logan View opens up the season at home against Palmyra on Friday, August 25th.
That should be a win for the Raiders.
Logan View is looking to make lots of progress this year. Sealey says his team has to learn how to deal with adversity to become a great team. "We just got to focus on how we respond to situations like that. The teams that are 8-1 or 7-2 aren't that way by chance. There's a behavior, and there's kind of a culture of how they are. And that's what we're trying to shape these guys into in our Football program is how to respond in situations like that. And we'll work through that in practice so hopefully in a game we're used to responding well in those situations."
Logan View is in District C2-3 with Oakland-Craig, Fremont Bergan, BRLD, Wisner-Pilger, and Tekamah-Herman.
Sealey feels the Raiders can compete with anyone in the district.
I think Logan View can hang with the big boys too. Easier said than done though. The Raiders have to be physically and mentally tough at all times this year if they want to compete with the best teams on their schedule.
Central City, Yutan, Stanton, Fremont Bergan, Oakland-Craig, and BRLD figure to be the toughest teams on Logan View's schedule.
If Logan View can find a way to win at least half of those games, and take care of business in their other contests, the Raiders should be playoff bound this season.
That's much easier said than done though. All of those teams I listed above figure to be very salty this season.
Logan View can be a very good team, there's no doubt about that. The Raiders just have to be physical at the line of scrimmage, and be ready to execute the run and pass game.
Everyone has to know their roles and assignments, and must play their tails off every play. There can't be one player that takes a play off ever. Each and every player has to put the team above themselves, and be unselfish.
Great teams put the team ahead of them, and that's exactly the type of attitude Logan View has to have this season.
The Raiders have a lot of talent....now it's a matter of everyone being unselfish and everyone coming together.
If Logan View can do the little things like eliminate penalties and turnovers they could very well find themselves in the playoffs come the end of October.
2017 Logan View Raiders Football Schedule:
09/01/17 @ Central City
09/22/17 @ Tekamah-Herman
09/29/17 @ Archbishop Bergan
10/13/17 @ Wisner-Pilger
Colors: Purple and Vegas Gold
Head Coach: Graig McElmuray (3rd season) (1-17 record)
2016 record: 1-8
Returning Starters: N/A
The Tekamah-Herman Football Team figures to be improved over a year ago. Head Coach Graig McElmuray says the Tigers are experienced up front, but will be breaking in some new guys in the offensive backfield. "We have a strong offensive line back. Everybody that's coming back on offensive line has played at some time during the last two years for us. Most of them have started at least one game at a position on offensive line. They aren't four-year starters obviously, but they ended up starting a position. And fullback and tailback this year are new obviously again after last year's graduation we lost Ben Metzler and Cody Hopkins last year to graduation."
McElmuray says his team has 11 seniors and 13 juniors out this year.
I think being an experienced and veteran team will help Tekamah-Herman out this year tremendously. Last year's Sophomores and Juniors are now Juniors and Seniors, and the time to win is now for Tekamah-Herman.
The offensive line has to be physical and must be ready to open up holes for the running game. The defensive line has to have a tough, hard nosed mentality, and must be ready to stop the power run game that many of their opponents possess.
The Tigers also have to be able to pass the ball effectively, and must tackle well defensively. Defending the pass well is also going to be important for Tekamah-Herman, in my opinion.
Some of the toughest football in the state is played in Northeast Nebraska, and the Tigers have to step up their game to be one of the best.
I think Tekamah-Herman made some tremendous strides last year, and I look for the Tigers to be even better in 2017.
Replacing an entire offensive backfield is never easy, but it appears Tekamah-Herman is filling the void left from last year's departing seniors with players with varsity experience.
The cupboard isn't exactly bare at Tekamah-Herman so look for the Tigers to be much more competitive and win their fair share of games this upcoming season.
I think this team can turn a few heads and surprise a few people. Only time will tell how good Tekamah-Herman can be this season though.
Tekamah-Herman opens up the 2017 season on Friday, August 25th with a home game against Madison. McElmuray says the Dragons will be no pushover. "Madison is a unique experience for us. They are a C-1 school coming down here for one game after Omaha Brownell-Talbot had to forfeit their season. And we've been watching a little bit of film on them, and got some big young men on the front line, they have some speed. Seen them at conference track, and we seen them at different places. And I think they're going to present a unique instance for us to play our first game."
The Tigers are coming off a 1-8 season last year.
Looking at the schedule, Tekamah-Herman has at least a few winnable games on the schedule. But even if the Tigers only win a few games this year I think they will be much more competitive against the juggernauts on their schedule than they were last year.
The Madison, North Bend Central, and Wisner-Pilger games appear to be very winnable, but none of those games will be easy for Tekamah-Herman, especially since two of the teams are C-1 foes.
Ponca, Doniphan-Trumbull, Logan View, BRLD, Fremont Bergan, and Oakland-Craig figure to be very good this year.
Doniphan-Trumbull has a new coach, but I still expect them to be very tough.
Logan View and BRLD are interesting matchups. Logan View had a new coach last year and BRLD was in their first year of 11-man so it will be interesting to see what those two teams have learned coming into this year.
Tekamah-Herman definitely has their work cut out for them, there's no doubt about it, but there's no reason to think the Tigers won't be tough minded and competitive.
The Tigers are in District C2-3 though, and McElmuray says his team is going to have to stay healthy to be a factor at the end of the season. "Tough District...Oakland-Craig, Fremont Bergan, Logan View, BRLD, Wisner-Pilger. All those teams are very capable of putting together a playoff team. A lot of it's just going to be staying healthy. Keeping our offensive line intact. Not having to put freshman out on the field this year for us in situations where we've had to put freshman in before."
McElmuray feels the District Favorite is Oakland-Craig.
I agree with McElmuray...I think Oakland-Craig is still the cream of the crop in the district. However, there's no reason to think their Burt County rival won't make some noise this season.
The Tigers are experienced and veteran laden so that should help out their cause tremendously this year. All those freshmen that played two years ago when everyone was hurt now reap the benefit of that experience when they take to the field this season.
2017 Tekamah-Herman Tigers Football Schedule:
09/08/17 @ North Bend Central
09/15/17 @ Doniphan-Trumbull
09/22/17 Logan View
09/29/17 @ BRLD
10/06/17 Archbishop Bergan
10/13/17 @ Oakland-Craig
Beemer-The Guardian Angels Central Catholic Football team outlasted Creighton 48-44 at home in the State Semifinals Monday night.
Jared Minnick led the Bluejays' rushing attack with 63 yards on 15 carries. Quarterback Nolan Plagge added 52 yards on 19 attempts.
Plagge was 6-11 passing for 170 yards passing with two interceptions. Cole Kreikemeier went 1-1 for 54 yards.
Kreikemeier hauled in 6 passes for 139 yards, and scored three touchdowns. Andrew Guenther had 2 catches for 57 yards while Kobe Slaughter hauled in a 55-yard TD pass.
Plagge made 18 tackles while Gage Herbert and Connor Klitz notched 16 and 15, respectively. Casey Doernemann added 9.
GACC amassed 349 yards of total offense, including 220 through the air.
Creighton had 441 yards of total offense, 307 coming on the ground.
Head Coach Dave Ridder.
"We've had this motto all year long...we don't have anybody great, we just have a bunch of kids that love to play together. Great team chemistry. Young kids, they really put in the effort this year. And they play well together. And basically our motto all year has been just ordinary average guys."
The Bluejays (12-0) advance to the Class D-1 State Championship Game against Burwell next Monday at 2:45 p.m. at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln.
The Longhorns topped Palmer 26-24 at home in their semifinal game on Monday.
Ridder says his team will approach this game with Burwell just like any other.
"We're just preparing to do as best we can. And the game is whatever happens, happens. And if we win a state championship that's great, but hopefully we can play our best game. We still haven't played our best game yet."
Ridder's seen Burwell play before.
"I did go watch them play last year. They're a tough physical team. So we'll have our work cut out for us again."
Ridder says the Longhorns are talented.
"They like to run the ball a lot, and they're a very physical team. They have a pretty good defense, and their offense is very good. And they're very physical up front with their line, and they have a very good running back. A big kid about 6'1, 205."
The Longhorns will certainly challenge GACC, there's no doubt about it, but time and time again, the Bluejays have rose to the challenge and been successful.
There's no doubt GACC can win again on Monday.
It would be such a special feeling for these players, coaches, and fans to experience another state championship.
I'm honestly excited for the Bluejays to play in another state championship game. This is what these kids have dreamed about their entire lives...playing at Memorial Stadium is a once in a lifetime experience for most teams.
GACC has to take it all in and play their game.
Burwell has more state championship experience from a player standpoint having been there last year, but the Bluejays should still be fine.
I really do think GACC has a good chance to bring home another state championship.
It would be quite the accomplishment for the Bluejays to win another state title, and I definitely think it can happen.
The players just have to be focused for four quarters and play their hearts out.
The higher the stakes, the better it seems GACC plays.
I'm sure there will be some pre/early game jitters and all that goes with playing in a state championship game, but once the Bluejays get all the butterflies out of their system, they should be ready to go.
The game will be carried on 107.9 the Bull.
The Guardian Angels Central Catholic Football Team advanced to the Class D-1 State Semifinals by defeating Heartland 56-34 at home in the State Quarterfinals Tuesday night.
The Huskies led 14-8 after one and won the second quarter 20-18 to take a 34-26 lead into the locker room.
The Bluejays shutout Heartland 16-0 in the third quarter to lead 42-34 at the end of three.
GACC blanked the Huskies 14-0 in the fourth quarter.
Cole Kreikemeier paced the Bluejays with 98 yards rushing on 11 carries, including a score while Jared Minnick had 88 yards rushing on 13 carries, including a score. Nolan Plagge notched 78 yards on the ground on 16 attempts.
Plagge was 10-14 passing with 69 yards and four touchdowns.
Connor Klitz made a game-high 21 tackles while Michael Baumert and Plagge had 15 and 14, respectively. Damien Birchem and Andrew Guenther notched 10 apiece while Kobe Slaughter and Kreikemeier totaled 9 and 7, respectively.
GACC amassed 415 yards of total offense, including 298 yards on the ground.
Heartland totaled 444 yards of offense, including 306 rushing.
Head Coach Dave Ridder says the Bluejays really came to play in the second half.
"Yeah we had to make some adjustments at halftime defensively, and well we weren't keeping our responsibilities as far as our defensive responsibility. And offensively we decided we needed to run the ball, and run at them, and mix in a little play action pass, and that seemed to work well for us."
GACC outscored Heartland 30-0 in the final 24 minutes after trailing 34-26 at the break.
The Bluejays (11-0) advance to take on Creighton (10-1) at home in the Semifinals on Monday at 6:00 p.m.
Creighton won 90-54 at home over Nebraska City Lourdes in the State Quarterfinals on Tuesday
Ridder says the Bulldogs have a diverse offense.
"It's going to take a great defensive effort because I think they have the number one offensive stats in the state. They pass it well, but they run the ball very well. And they move it around. Their quarterback does an excellent job of distributing the ball."
This game is definitely a battle between two heavyweights. This is a game for men, and for all the marbles.
Everything is on the line in this game. A chance to represent the East at the Class D-1 State Championship game at Memorial Stadium.
It's every players' dream to play at the Huskers' stadium.
Well GACC is now one game away from doing so.
Creighton is a really good team, there's no denying it, but so are the Bluejays.
GACC has defied the odds and played really well this season, and I think they can win on Monday.
It should be a good game. I think the game will come down to the fourth quarter, and perhaps be decided in the final minutes or even seconds.
Every possession, every play is critical and counts, so the Bluejays have to be focused and locked in on every play.
Emotions will no doubt be running high throughout the game, but GACC has to do their best to remain composed and poised throughout.
The Bluejays can't afford to commit any costly and silly penalties like personal fouls and late hits.
GACC has to be the smarter team and force the Bulldogs to make mistakes.
This should be a great game, and I'm really looking forward to it.
Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. in Beemer, and the game can be heard on 107.9 the Bull with pregame starting at 5:40.
The Guardian Angels Central Catholic Bluejays advanced to the Class D-1 State Quarterfinals again this year by knocking off Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family 53-18 in the second round of the playoffs Wednesday night.
GACC led 14-6 after one and outscored the Bulldogs 18-0 in the second quarter to take a 32-6 lead into the locker room.
The Bluejays won the third quarter 8-6 to go up 40-12 at the end of three.
GACC outscored Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family 13-6 in the fourth quarter to make up the final score.
Nolan Plagge was 11-19 passing for 175 yards and four touchdowns. Andrew Guenther hauled in 4 passes for 109 yards, and scored once.
Jared Minnick carried the ball 19 times for 183 yards, and scored three times. Plagge had 63 yards rushing on 15 carries, and scored once.
Kobe Slaughter had 13 tackles while Connor Klitz registered 12. Cole Kreikemeier and Michael Baumert totaled 11 apiece while Sheldon Disher and Guenther notched 10 and 8, respectively.
The Bluejays racked up 426 yards of total offense, including 251 on the ground, while the Bulldogs had 257 yards of total offense, all but 11 of the yards coming on the ground.
GACC played very well in this game. I must say I was pleasantly surprised by the Bluejays' performance. I thought the game would be much closer than it was.
GACC (10-0) hosts Heartland (9-1) in the State Quarterfinals Tuesday evening.
The Huskies downed East Butler 70-42 at home in the second round of the playoffs on Wednesday.
I must say, I was a little surprised Heartland beat the Tigers the way they did.
And given how well they played against East Butler, I can't say I really know what to expect in this game.
I think things could go either way. Both teams are playing at a really high level right now, and nothing would surprise me at this point.
I can see the Bluejays winning, but I can also see them losing.
It just depends on how well GACC plays and how bad they want it.
The Bluejays have to try and slow down Austin Stuhr, who had 334 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns against East Butler.
Stuhr was pretty much a one man wrecking crew, and is a player GACC has to really focus in on.
The Bluejays' have done a good job of shutting other teams' best players down this year, and you can bet Head Coach Dave Ridder will have a really good game plan.
If GACC can shutdown or at least limit Stuhr, then I think they're going to win, but if Stuhr goes off and has a big game like he did against the Tigers, then the Bluejays could lose.
GACC is in the same spot they were at this time last year...10-0 and in the State Quarterfinals.
I would say last year's team was better than this one is, but I would also say BDS was a better team last year than Heartland is this year.
I fully expect Plagge, Minnick, and Guenther to have big games for the Bluejays.
I think Plagge's passing ability could end up being the deciding factor in this game.
If he can be a threat running and passing the ball, GACC will only be that much stronger.
Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. on 107.9 the Bull with pregame at 5:10.
The Oakland-Craig Knights saw their season come to an end Friday night as they lost 49-21 at Battle Creek.
The game was tied at 7 after one before the Braves outscored the Knights 21-7 in the second quarter to go up 28-14 at halftime.
Both teams scored 7 points in the third quarter, and the score after three was 35-21 in favor of Battle Creek.
The Braves shutout Oakland-Craig 14-0 in the fourth quarter.
Evan Reinert was 12-26 passing for 260 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
Garrett Seagren brought in 6 passes for 185 yards, and scored three touchdowns. Kobe Benne hauled in 6 passes for 63 yards.
Hoss Smith had 85 yards rushing on 19 carries while Reinert ran the ball 9 times for 75 yards.
Smith, Zach Ahrens, and Ben Ward made 8 tackles apiece.
This was a really tough loss for the Knights. I thought Oakland-Craig had a pretty good chance to win.
The Knights wrap up the year at 9-2.
It was certainly a season to remember for Oakland-Craig, their biggest wins coming over Crofton, Fremont Bergan, and Doniphan-Trumbull, in my opinion.
This team seemed to rise up to the challenge on a weekly basis, and made the season very memorable for all involved.
Reinert finished up with 1,124 yards passing and 12 touchdowns. Seagren had 775 yards receiving, including 10 touchdowns.
Hoss Smith amassed 1,374 yards on the ground and had 18 touchdowns.
Josh Dixon led the way in tackles with 76 while Smith made 74.
Oakland-Craig loses Smith, Carter Thiele, Ward, Ahrens, Alex Pleuler, Isaiah Larson, Zakk Lierman, and Dixon.
These are very significant losses, but the Knights have to feel good and optimistic about next season given who they return.
Oakland-Craig brings back Seagren, Robby Mayberry, Jared Mulder, Reinert, Benne, Ben Smith, Marcos Quintero, Cole Bures, and Jarron Metzler, among others.
As you can see plenty of talent returns for the Knights, but Oakland-Craig will have to find a replacement for Hoss Smith, and that won't be easy.
Perhaps fans will see the Knights throw the ball a little more next season with Reinert and Seagren both back.
I look for the passing game to sort of carry Oakland-Craig at least in the early part of next season.
All returning players and newcomers have to get faster, bigger, and stronger in the offseason.
It's important for everyone to improve and hone their skills and work hard in the weightroom in order for this program to remain at an elite level.
I feel all the pieces will be in place for the Knights to have another good season in 2017, but there's a lot of work to be done from now until August when practice starts.
Howells-Dodge saw their season come to an end Wednesday night as the Jaguars lost 42-36 at Nebraska City Lourdes in the second round of the Class D-1 Playoffs.
The Jaguars led 14-0 after one and 22-14 at halftime after the Knights won the second quarter 14-8. Lourdes also won the third quarter 14-8 to make it a 30-28 game at the end of three.
The Knights outscored Howells-Dodge 14-6 in the fourth quarter.
Here is the scoring recap:
Howells-Dodge 08:11 #28 Dylan Horejsi runs for 4 yards. Touchdown! (Two point conversion run by #28 Dylan Horejsi no good)
Howells-Dodge 06:05 #28 Dylan Horejsi runs for 50 yards. Touchdown! (Two point conversion run by #23 Jordon Brichacek good)
Howells-Dodge 06:13 #28 Dylan Horejsi runs for 22 yards. Touchdown! (Two point conversion run by #4 Dax VanLengen good)
Lourdes Central Catholic H S 03:46 #10 Hayden Miller pass complete to #1 Thomas Ragland for 9 yards. Touchdown! (Two point conversion pass by #10 Hayden Miller to Team no good)
Lourdes Central Catholic H S 00:31 #10 Hayden Miller runs for 4 yards. Touchdown! (Two point conversion pass by #10 Hayden Miller to #1 Thomas Ragland good)
Lourdes Central Catholic H S 11:14 #10 Hayden Miller pass complete to #1 Thomas Ragland for 32 yards. Touchdown! (Two point conversion pass by #10 Hayden Miller to #1 Thomas Ragland good)
Lourdes Central Catholic H S 04:08 #10 Hayden Miller pass complete to #1 Thomas Ragland for 34 yards. Touchdown! (Two point conversion pass by #10 Hayden Miller to Team no good)
Howells-Dodge 01:55 #4 Dax VanLengen pass complete to #23 Jordon Brichacek for 20 yards. Touchdown! (Two point conversion pass by #4 Dax VanLengen to #37 Zach Bayer good)
Lourdes Central Catholic H S 10:27 #10 Hayden Miller pass complete to #1 Thomas Ragland for 21 yards. Touchdown! (Two point conversion run by #10 Hayden Miller good)
Lourdes Central Catholic H S 06:09 #10 Hayden Miller pass complete to #17 Colter Fulton for 40 yards. Touchdown! (Two point conversion pass by #10 Hayden Miller to Team no good)
Howells-Dodge 04:41 #28 Dylan Horejsi runs for 2 yards. Touchdown! (Two point conversion run by #28 Dylan Horejsi no good)
Dylan Horejsi led the Jaguars with 209 yards rushing on 33 carries and four touchdowns.
Quarterback Dax VanLengen threw two touchdown passes and an interception.
Ely Hendrickson racked up a team-high 13 tackles while Brichacek and Kade Hegemann made 8 apiece. Zach Bayer notched 7.
Howells-Dodge amassed 370 yards of total offense, 236 coming on the ground.
Nebraska City Lourdes had 387 yards of total offense, including 342 rushing.
The Jaguars definitely had their chances, but simply came up short. It was still a really good season for Howells-Dodge though.
The Jaguars end the year at 7-3.
The highlights of the season had to be the wins over East Butler, Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family, and Clarkson/Leigh.
I thought Howells-Dodge stepped up and did an admirable job in all their big games this year, regardless of if they won or lost.
The teams the Jaguars lost to were and are pretty darn good.
VanLengen had over 1,150 yards passing with 11 touchdowns while Horejsi led the team in rushing with 836 yards and 11 TD's. Brichacek added 775 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground.
Bayer led the way in receiving with 461 yards and 5 touchdowns. Brichacek had 426 yards receiving, including 6 TD's.
Bayer also led the way in tackles with 80 while Hegemann made 76.
A lot of this team is back next year, but Howells-Dodge does say goodbye to Bayer, Tanner Coufal, Brett Fiala, and Marcus Love.
These are significant losses, but the Jaguars have to be thrilled with who all returns next year.
Howells-Dodge brings back the likes of VanLengen, Brichacek, Hegemann, Ryan Macholan, Tristan Kleinschmidt, Hendrickson, Horejsi, Connor Blum, Josh Brester, and Lane Hegemann, among others.
Next year's Jaguars' squad appears to be loaded with talent, and I wouldn't be surprised if Howells-Dodge made another deep run in the playoffs in 2017.
There's a lot of work to be done from now until the start of next season, but you can bet these boys will be hungry and ready for more success next season.
This team was very young and more than played up to their potential this year, in my opinion. The players should be very proud of their efforts as should the coaches, fans, and communities of Howells and Dodge.
You can bet the Jaguars will be back next season. I would say Howells-Dodge has a good chance to make it past the second round of the playoffs next season as long as the returning players and newcomers work hard in the offseason.
Success does not come overnight...it's a process, and these boys just have to take things one day at a time in the offseason, and put in the work necessary to become an elite, championship level team.
Next year's squad is capable of extraordinary things if they play up to their potential again, in my opinion.
Oakland-Craig advanced to the Class C-2 State Quarterfinals by knocking off Doniphan-Trumbull 26-7 at home in the first round of the playoffs Friday night.
Hoss Smith had 92 yards rushing on 19 carries, including two touchdowns for the Knights (9-1). Evan Reinert was 9-14 passing for 109 yards with a touchdown..
Garrett Seagren hauled in 5 passes for 80 yards.
Oakland-Craig had 313 yards of total offense, including 176 on the ground.
Doniphan-Trumbull totaled 274 yards of total offense, including 171 rushing.
Josh Dixon made 9 tackles while Smith and Ben Ward registered 7 each.
Head Coach Joe Anderson says he's proud of the way his kids played physical football against a great offensive team.
"They just run up and down the field on people. I think they average 430 yards a game, and put up a lot of points. They light up the scoreboard. So our guys really executed well. I thought our DB's played really well. We talked big about not giving up the big play. We've played really well on defense. At times we've kind of been a bend but don't break. And so our defense did a great job of not giving up the big play. And our guys up front did a nice job of stopping the run. But like I said there's just 11 guys flying around playing good team defense, and at the end of the day that's what got it done for us."
The Braves knocked off Sutton 35-0 at home in the first round last week.
Anderson says while making the semis would be nice, his team isn't overlooking Battle Creek one bit.
"To be in the semis for the third year would pretty neat for our program, but we know that it's not going to be an easy challenge. We know if we would find a way to win we would be guaranteed a home game next round, but like I said it's just something you need to play for, it's just a little bit more incentive. But this is probably what I feel like is one of the top 2 or 3 teams in the state in Class C-2 so we know that it's going to be a battle going up there."
The Braves beat the Knights 21-12 in Oakland on September 2nd.
I think Oakland-Craig has a legit shot to knock off Battle Creek this time around though.
The Knights beat the Braves in the playoffs last year after losing to them in the regular season, and I think history can repeat itself.
It's not going to be a cakewalk for Oakland-Craig by any stretch of the imagination, but I feel Battle Creek is beatable.
The whole key to the game is stopping the Braves' run game, in my opinion.
The Knights have to be physical at the line of scrimmage and knock Battle Creek off the ball.
Oakland-Craig has to play with pure desire, determination, toughness, grit, fire, and tenacity.
The Knights have to want it more than the Braves.
I think Oakland-Craig has a fairly good shot to make the state championship again if they can pull this one out against Battle Creek.
Crofton or Valentine await the winner in the semifinals, but the Knights have already beaten the Warriors, and the Badgers are certainly beatable, especially since Oakland-Craig would get them in Oakland.
The higher the stakes, the better it seems like the Knights play, and I look for Oakland-Craig to play well Friday night, particularly on defense.
I think Reinert is going to need to make some plays with his arm and feet, and Smith is going to need to have a big game running the ball as well.
Friday's game is scheduled to kickoff at 7:00 p.m. on the Bull with pregame starting at 6:40.
The Stanton Mustangs lost 21-6 at Wilber-Clatonia in the first round of the Class C-2 Playoffs Friday night.
The Wolverines led 7-0 at halftime by scoring a touchdown in the second quarter after neither team scored in the 1st quarter.
Neither team scored in the third quarter. Wilber-Clatonia outscored Stanton 14-6 in the fourth quarter.
Hunter Stallbaum was 7-23 passing for 117 yards and a touchdown.
Henry Bohac hauled in 2 passes for 53 yards.
Bohac led the way with 11 tackles while Mason King made 10. Gannon Tighe notched 9 while Trey Erbst and Gauge Erickson posted 8 each. Myles Nickolite recorded 7.
The Mustangs had just 131 yards of total offense, 117 coming through the air.
The Wolverines notched 322 yards of total offense, 293 coming on the ground.
Stanton did a great job to make the playoffs, but the Mustangs met their match against Wilber-Clatonia.
The Mustangs end the season at 6-4.
It was a solid season for Stanton, and the highlight without a doubt was upsetting Battle Creek in the regular season finale to get into the playoffs.
The Mustangs also had another nice win over Cross County in the regular season.
Stallbaum led the way with 1,171 yards passing and 12 touchdowns. Erbst was the team's leading rusher on the season with 613 yards and six touchdowns.
King had a team-high 138 tackles this year while Dylan Hunt and Bohac made 105 and 103, respectively.
Stanton was solid on both sides of the ball, and did some nice things this season. I'm sure it was nice for the Mustangs to make the playoffs this year after getting left out last year.
Stanton graduates Stallbaum, King, Erbst, Nickolite, Alex Schellpeper, Logan McKeon, Adam Dover, Hunt, Sam Christiansen, Tighe, and Bohac.
That's a lot of significant losses for a team to incur, but the Mustangs will simply have to rely on the returning players and newcomers to lead next year's squad.
Stanton brings back the likes of Erickson, Beau Wilke, and Ashton Flood.
The Mustangs will need to develop some skill position people and linemen in the offseason. I fully expect Stanton to do that though.
I think the Mustangs will find a way to be good again next year. Stanton has been a solid team in recent years, and I look for the Mustangs to find their way again in 2017.
There's a lot of work for the returning players and newcomers to get done, but I'm sure these kids and coaches will work hard and be dedicated in the offseason.
It's important for Stanton to work as hard as possible and go the extra mile though with only 16 teams making the playoffs in Class C-2.
The Pender Pendragons saw their season come to an end Thursday night as they lost 42-34 st home to Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family in the first round of the D-1 Playoffs.
The Bulldogs led 8-0 after one and shutout Pender 14-0 in the second quarter to take a 22-0 lead into the locker room.
The Pendragons won the third quarter 14-12 to make it a 34-14 game at the end of three.
Pender outscored Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family 20-8 in the fourth quarter, but it was to no avail.
Dylan Roth was 12-21 passing for 221 yards with 5 touchdowns and an interception.
James Bensen hauled in 3 passes for 88 yards while Tyler Nelson had 4 catches for 61 yards and a touchdown. Brady Oliver made 5 catches for 58 yards, and scored twice.
Bensen had 143 yards rushing on 18 carries.
Leland Bowder made 7 tackles.
The Pendragons totaled 409 yards of offense, including 274 through the air.
The defense surrendered 358 yards of total offense, 275 coming on the ground.
I thought Pender did a good job rallying in the second half, but it was just too late for the Pendragons to win.
Pender wraps up the year at 4-5.
I thought the Pendragons would go at least 6-2 again and maybe win the District Title, but Pender didn't do quite as well as I thought they would.
It was still a good season for the Pendragons though, and Pender has a lot to be proud of.
Roth finished the season with almost 1300 yards passing and 22 touchdowns while Bensen rushed for 741 yards, and scored 10 rushing touchdowns.
Defensively, Bowder led the way with 74 tackles on the year while Jesse Thompson made a total of 70.
The win over Wakefield had to be the highlight of the season for the Pendragons. Pender played really well against the Trojans.
The Pendragons graduate Roth, Bensen, Braden Peters, Brayden Bensen, and Bowder.
These five are significant losses, but that's not a lot of seniors to lose.
Pender returns the likes of Thompson, Layne Heese, Jaydon Jump, Jared Tyrrell, Brady Oliver, and Tyler Nelson.
I think the Pendragons have a chance to build on this year's success and have another fine season in 2017.
Pender graduates some of their big gins, but the Pendragons have to be excited about who all comes back.
I look for the returning players and newcomers to come together and maybe form another playoff qualifying team in 2017.
There's a lot of hard work for these players and newcomers to get done in the offseason, but I'm sure everyone will work hard and plug away in some fashion from now until the start of practice in August.
Howells-Dodge won their opening round playoff game at home on Thursday over Johnson-Brock, 48-24.
The Jaguars led 14-0 after one and doubled up the Eagles 16-8 in the second quarter to make it a 30-8 game at halftime.
Johnson-Brock blanked Howells-Dodge 8-0 in the third quarter to cut the lead to 14 at 30-16 at the end of three.
The Jaguars outscored the Eagles 18-8 in the fourth quarter to make up the final score.
Jon Yosten finished with 93 yards rushing on 21 carries, and scored once. Jordan Brichacek totaled 92 yards on 22 attempts, and scored twice. Connor Blum amassed 68 yards on the ground on 14 carries, and scored a touchdown.
Dax VanLengen was 6-8 passing for 57 yards.
Tanner Coufal made a team-high 9 tackles.
Howells-Dodge totaled 319 yards of total offense, including 262 rushing.
Johnson-Brock registered 229 yards of offense, including 178 passing.
Head Coach Mike Speirs says his players did a good job containing the Eagles' passing game.
"Yeah the kids played with a lot of effort in that game, and really did a good job of picking up what Johnson-Brock did. I don't know if I've ever been involved in a game like that. In the second half, Johnson-Brock ran 23 plays, and 22 of them were passes."
Howells-Dodge (7-2) makes the trek to Nebraska City on Wednesday to take on the Lourdes Central Catholic Knights (7-2) in the second round of the Class D-1 Playoffs.
The Knights beat Clarkson/Leigh 52-8 at home on Thursday.
Speirs says Lourdes has some good athletes on their team.
"Well they're just a very, very athletic team. The athleticism jumps out at you right away. They won state basketball a year ago. And a lot of the kids that are playing for them now were playing on that basketball team. So the athleticism and the speed that they present is going to be a challenge for us."
I think Lourdes has proven that they are a good team, but so has Howells-Dodge, in my opinion.
I really think the Jaguars have a fairly decent shot to win.
I think Howells-Dodge has gotten the most out of themselves so far this season, and the ride is not over yet.
It would be a big deal for the Jaguars to beat the Knights and be able to host Creighton or Tri-County in the quarterfinals.
I feel like both teams are playing at an elite level right now, and that should make for a really good game.
It's Northeast Nebraska against Southeast Nebraska, and there's a lot on the line in this game.
I think it's important for Howells-Dodge to have multiple players be effective in the ground game again.
I also think VanLengen is going to need to make some plays with his arm and feet.
It really comes down to the battle in the trenches though, in my opinion. I think whoever is more physical and plays a better game up front will win.
Kickoff is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. on 107.9 the Bull with pregame scheduled to begin at 5:40.