Leading up to the Nebraska high school football season, NEPrepZone.com will be looking 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, as well as players you’ll be watching.
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No. 1 HOWELLS-DODGE
NOTE: Howells lost in the Eight Man-2 championship game last season, but finished No. 1 in the final rankings. This season, the Bobcats consolidate with the team they beat in the second round of the playoffs — Dodge. Howells-Dodge will play in Eight Man-1, District 2.
COACH: A head coach is yet to be decided by the school board.
RETURNING STARTERS: Casey Wisnieski, junior, QB/DB; Matthew Gooch, senior, FB/DB; Danny Widhelm, junior, OL/DL; Logan Kampschnieder, senior, TE/LB; Nathan Bazata, senior, OL/DL. Brady Bester, senior, DB
KEY RETURNING PLAYER: Bazata. The 6-foot-3, 275-pound lineman is receiving serious Division I interest and could be one of the best defensive lineman in the state.
KEY DEPARTURE: Eight seniors from each school graduated, including 12 multi-year starters.
ON OFFENSE: Gooch returns after totaling 939 yards on the ground and 20 touchdowns last season, earning him first-team all-district honors. He’ll team with returning quarterback Wisnieski to lead the backfield.
ON DEFENSE: Bazata, a 2011 all-state selection, will anchor the line, and three defensive backs return.
NEWCOMERS: Seven new players look to contribute this season: Luke Hegemann, junior, DE/TE; Jesse Faltys, sophomore, RB/LB; Ben Kuehn, junior, RB/DB; Brandon Wragge, senior, TE/LB; Kyle Sayers, senior, OL/DL; Mitch Kampschneider, senior, OL/DL; and Jason Ortmeier, senior, TE/DL.
GAME TO WATCH: Sept. 14, High Plains
DISTRICT OPPONENTS: Cedar Bluffs, Clarkson/Leigh, West Point Guardian Angels, Omaha Christian, Omaha Nation
COACH’S QUOTE: Mike Speirs, the Howells head coach last season, said: ‘The quicker we can get all the pieces in place, the quicker we can find success.”
Aug. 21, Allen
Sept 7, at Randolph
Sept. 14, High Plains
Sept. 21, Cedar Bluffs
Sept. 28, at Omaha Christian
Oct. 5, West Point Guardian Angels
Oct. 12, at Omaha Nation
Oct. 19, at Clarkson/Leigh
— Steven Elonich
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For more prep football previews, go to Omaha.com/preppreviews