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 A 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. Also, check out the football preview section in the Sunday World-Herald.
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No. 5 GRAND ISLAND
COACH: Jeff Tomlin, tenth season
LAST SEASON: The Islanders lost to Omaha Central in the second round of playoffs, finishing the season 9-2.
RETURNING STARTERS: Jacob Cornelius, senior, WR/DB
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior Evan Schutte is a top returning running back for Grand Island while seniors Daniel Ortiz and Jose Ceballos will play key roles in the Isalnders’ defense.
KEY DEPARTURE: Ryker Fyfe. The Islanders’ quarterback received all-state recognition last season after throwing for 1,921 yards and 20 touchdowns and running for 746 yards and 14 touchdowns. Fyfe chose to walk on at Nebraska over a scholarship offer from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
KEY NEWCOMERS: A big senior class with some varsity experience will look to fill in the gaps for the Islanders.
ON OFFENSE: Cornelius is Grand Island’s only returning offensive starter, and with the absence of Ryker Fyfe, Steven Cahoy is expected to take the reins at quarterback to run Grand Island’s wing-T offense.
ON DEFENSE: Expect to see the Islanders utilize a 4-4 defense with 5-foot-9, 240-pound Ortiz clogging up the middle as defensive tackle. Ceballos is the team’s top linebacker, and Aken will be strong in the backfield.
GAME TO WATCH: Grand Island faces district rival Kearney on Sept. 21.
DISTRICT OPPONENTS: Fremont, Kearney, Lincoln High, Lincoln North Star, North Platte
COACH’S QUOTE: “I think we will have a very solid squad. We will be very inexperienced and young in many spots, but I feel like our squad will overcome the youth and inexperience with effort.”
Aug. 24, Lincoln Northeast
Aug. 30, at Lincoln Southwest
Sept. 7, Omaha Westside
Sept. 14, Norfolk
Sept. 21, at Kearney
Sept. 28, at Fremont
Oct. 5, Lincoln North Star
Oct. 12, North Platte
Oct. 19, at Lincoln High
— Brandan Behrens
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For more prep football previews, go to NEPrepZone.com/preppreviews