Published Sunday, July 28, 2013 AT 6:59 AM / Updated at 5:43 PM
Prep Football Countdown: Eight Man-1 No. 1 Elgin/Pope John
Nebraska Prep Zone Omaha World-Herald

Leading up to the Nebraska high school football season, NEPrepZone.com will be looking at the top teams in each class, based on last season’s final rankings. Eight Man-1 takes the stage this week, with a new post each day. Let us know in the comments how you think each team will finish, as well as the players you’ll be watching.

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EIGHT MAN-1 NO. 1 ELGIN/POPE JOHN
District D1-6

Coach: Randy Eisenhauer, first season

Last season: Won the state championship against Exeter-Milligan 40-14

RETURNING STARTER

OL/LB Kyle Heithoff (Jr.)

KEY DEPARTURES

Ross Schindler, QB: An Eight Man-1 honorary captain with Iowa commit Nathan Bazata, Schindler led the Wolfpack to consecutive titles. In last season’s championship, he ran for 141 yards rushing and two scores against Exeter-Milligan.

Blake Anderson, RB: A gutsy runner, Anderson served as Elgin/Pope John’s workhorse last season. In the title game he had 23 rushing attempts. “I don’t know if you can replace him,” Eisenhauer said.

KEY RETURNING PLAYER

Heithoff: The only returning player with first-team reps, Heithoff has a plethora of experience. The junior picked up his first career start as a freshman in the 2011 state championship game. The 185-pounder plays bigger than he is due to his strength and work ethic. “He works his tail off,” Eisenhauer said.

KEY NEWCOMERS

Return from injury: Brett Kinney, RB/LB: The senior returns after an ACL tear slowed him last season. He looks to fill the shoes of Anderson at running back along with Blake Schrage.

ON OFFENSE

Elgin/Pope John ran itself to two trophies in two years and shouldn’t change much even with a new coach. Eisenhauer served as defense coordinator last season and has been a coach in the Elgin community for many years. Kinney, Schrage, sophomore Andrew Fergman –who ran for more than 100 yards as a freshman — and new quarterback Alex Pelster will all likely see multiple carries behind Heithoff and a reworked offensive line.

ON DEFENSE

The Wolfpack run a 3-4 set on defense. Blitzing — though it could be dialed back this year due to inexperience — will continue to be a part of Eisenhauer’s plan. Heitoff had 165 tackles last season as one of the team’s two middle linebackers. Fergman could fill the spot next to the senior after picking up 26 tackles in a reserve role in 2012.

GAME TO WATCH

At No. 8 Creighton , Sept. 27

DISTRICT OPPONENTS

Bloomfield, Creighton, Neligh-Oakdale, Niobrara/Verdigre, Plainview

COACH’S QUOTE

“I’m comfortable with this team. In the past couple years we’ve built good depth in some lopsided games.”

SCHEDULE
Aug. 30, Randolph
Sept. 13, at CWC
Sept. 20, Nebraska-Christian
Sept. 27, at Creighton
Oct. 5, Niobrara-Verdigre
Oct. 11, Bloomfield
Oct. 18, at Plainview
Oct. 24, Neligh-Oakdale

– Grant Egger

About Nebraska Prep Zone

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