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 B 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. 2 McCOOK
COACH: Jeff Gross, 15th season
LAST SEASON: The Bison finished 10-1 with a loss in the state quarterfinals to Adams Central.
RETURNING STARTERS: Javier Beltran, senior, OLB; Austin Cherry, senior, QB/DB; Matt Collicott, senior, TE/DE; Mitch Collicott, senior, OL/DE; Zayne Gillen, senior, WR/DB; Trevor Gleason, senior, OL/DT; Gavin Harsh, senior, LB; Jake Schlager, senior, RB/OLB; Kyle Stewart, senior, RB; Cody Wudtke, senior, WR/DB; Kolton Stone, junior, FB/LB.
KEY DEPARTURE: Matt Chitwood. The dual-threat quarterback threw for over 800 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for over 1,100 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. Chitwood will also be missed on defense, where he led the team with seven interceptions as a defensive back last season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Schlager. The versatile athlete will move around on defense, playing in the secondary and at linebacker. He had four sacks and two interceptions last season. On offense he rushed for over 500 yards and eight touchdowns last season.
KEY NEWCOMERS: Vince Lyons, junior, DB; Seth Koetter, junior, OL.
KEY POSITION CHANGE: Cherry moves from receiver to quarterback. The senior will take over the Bison’s option offense, replacing Chitwood.
ON OFFENSE: Cherry will look to use his track speed to accelerate the offense with help from Stewart and Schlager.
ON DEFENSE: Mitch Collicott, an all-stater in 2011, and his twin, Matt Collicott, will anchor a defense with a lot of depth. Mitch Collicott led the Bison in tackles from his defensive end spot last season with 56 solo tackles and 11 for loss.
GAME TO WATCH: McCook opens the season with a tough test at Aurora.
DISTRICT OPPONENTS: Hastings, Holdrege, Lexington.
COACH’S QUOTE: “We have high expectations for ourselves since we do have a lot of returning starters. Staying healthy will be a key for this football team.”
Aug. 24, at Aurora
Aug. 31, Scottsbluff
Sept. 7, Grand Island Northwest
Sept. 14, at Gering
Sept. 21, Sidney
Sept. 28, at Alliance
Oct. 5, at Hastings
Oct. 12, Holdrege
Oct. 19, at Lexington
— Jake Anderson
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For more prep football previews, go to NEPrepZone.com/preppreviews