In the time leading up to the Nebraska high school football season, NEPrepZone.com will be taking a look at the top teams in each class, based on last year’s rankings. This week, Eight Man-2 will be in the spotlight with a new post each day. Let us know in the comments how you think each team will finish the season, as well as players you’ll be watching for.
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No. 5 O’NEILL ST. MARY’S
Note: St. Mary’s will move to Eight Man-1 this season and will be in District 7.
Coach: Tony Allen, 15th season
Last season: As a No. 2 seed, lost in the second round of the playoffs to Loomis
Returning starters: Connor Connot, senior, DL/TE; Ty Eler, senior, RB/DB; Kyle Loecker, senior, RB/LB; Brad Reynoldsen, senior, C/DT; Jared Tomjack, junior, RB/OLB
Key departure: Quarterback and defensive back Tait Sibbel, a two-time All-Nebraska player, brought the Cardinals to the state playoffs a year ago.
Key returning player: Connot. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior will lead a Cardinals team filled with expectations of doing, at minimum, as well it did last season.
On offense: Besides replacing Sibbel, both starting guards and a tight end, the Cardinals need to show their district that the younger players have the ability to move from second string to productive starters.
On defense: Tomjack needs to serve as motivation for the newcomers to fill the open spots while continuing to build the defensive line.
Game to watch: At Burwell, Oct. 11
District opponents: Boyd County, North Central, Chambers/Wheeler Central, Orchard-Clearwater, Burwell
Coach’s quote: “We will have a lot of experience, we will have good size, we’re going to need them to step up and make the transition from a varsity stringer to a varsity starter.”
Aug. 23, Bloomfield
Aug. 31, Neligh-Oakdale
Sept. 7, Niabrara-Verdigre
Sept. 21, Boyd County
Sept. 28, North Central
Oct. 5, Orchard-Clearwater
Oct. 11, Burwell
Oct. 19, Chambers/Wheeler Central
– Emily Gregor
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For more prep football previews, go to Omaha.com/preppreviews