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, Class C-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.
* * *
No. 1 HASTINGS ST. CECILIA
COACH: Carl Tesmer, 21st season
LAST SEASON: The Bluehawks finished 10-1 with a loss in the state quarterfinals.
RETURNING STARTERS: Xander Schmidt, senior, QB/LB; Joel Grafel, senior, FB/LB; Chris Hartford, senior, C/DE; Nick Brouillete, senior, RB/DB; Caesar Teano, senior, WR/DB; Michael Huynh, senior, OL/DL; Tyler Willnerd, junior, RB/LB; Lance Schmidt, junior, OL/DT; Alex Sheehy, junior, OL/DT
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Xander Schmidt and Grafel. Both are all-state candidates, with the 6-foot, 175-pound Schmidt looking to be a leader on offense and the 6-foot, 200-pound Grafel hoping to improve on his all-state season in 2011, where he led the Bluehawks in tackles.
KEY DEPARTURE: Phil Hamburger. The all-stater led the Bluehawks at quarterback with a 23-1 career record while making the defensive calls from his safety position.
KEY NEWCOMERS: Tom O’Keefe, junior, OL/DE; Cannon Howell, junior, TE/DE; Jameson Esch, senior, QB/DB; Luke Carey, senior, WR/FS; Avery Driscoll, junior, RB/LB; Trevor Ernst, junior, FB/DL; Gus Clark, sophomore, QB/LB; Sam Young, sophomore, OL/DL; Cody Zeckser, sophomore, OL/DL
ON OFFENSE: With Hamburger gone, the Bluehawks will look for Schmidt to build on his two starts from last season. He will be aided by returning starters at each of the skill positions.
ON DEFENSE: Hamburger’s presence will be missed in the secondary, but the linebacker corps won’t miss a beat with leading tackler Grafel returning along with an experienced defensive line.
GAME TO WATCH: Oct. 18 at Thayer Central
DISTRICT OPPONENTS: Thayer Central, Doniphan-Trumbull, Sutton, Superior
COACH’S QUOTE: “We should be really good and should have a great season. We’re looking forward to try and go as far as we can in the playoffs.”
Aug. 31, at Centennial
Sept. 7, Ravenna
Sept. 14, Blue Hill
Sept. 21, at Superior
Sept. 28, Sutton
Oct. 5, at Southern Valley
Oct. 12, Doniphan-Trumbull
Oct. 18, at Thayer Central
— Jake Anderson
* * *
For more prep football previews, go to NEPrepZone.com/preppreviews