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. Class C-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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NO. 5 WAHOO
Coach: Chad Fox, 12th season
Returning starters: OL/DL Trevor Carstens (Sr.), RB/DB Josh Langemeier (Sr.), OL/DL Seth Lingren (Sr.), RB/LB Kirk Lindstrom (Sr.), DB Ben Scheef (Sr.), OL/DL Brent Tenopir (Sr.), RB/DL Alex Abbott (Jr.), DB Gavin Iversen (Jr.)
Players to watch: The lines — and the experience they possess — will lead the team out of the gates as Wahoo works in new skill position players. Seniors Carstens and Lingren are a combined 505 pounds and have dealt with play in the trenches, each collecting three letters heading into their final season.
Coach’s quote: “Staying healthy and catching some breaks down the stretch should allow us to make another playoff run in 2013.”
NO. 6 KEARNEY CATHOLIC
Coach: Dave Colling, fifth season
Returning starters: QB/LB Thomas Connely (Sr.), TE/LB Jack Graham (Sr.), WR/FS Blake Holtmeier (Sr.), DL Dennis Cabanting (Jr.), K Chase Murphy (Jr.)
Players to watch: Kearney Catholic lost a three-year starter at quarterback but Connely could fill in nicely coming off a 1,100-yard rushing season. The state wrestling champ could be matched in star power by returning defensive lineman Cabanting. The 270-pounder — who the coach thinks could be a coveted college recruit — is returning from a knee injury.
Coach’s quote: “We will need young lineman to step up and replace a three-year starter at quarterback but the kids are hungry and the weight room is full.”
NO. 7 FORT CALHOUN
Coach: Andrew Christensen, first year
Returning starters: OG/LB Gage Hartline (Sr.), OT/DE Joe Genoways (Sr.), OC/DT Trae Bradburn (Sr.), WR/DB Spencer Shull (Sr.), TE/LB Jon Keenan (Sr.), WR Tyler Pace (Sr.), LB Kyle Warthen (Jr.)
Players to watch: With three-year starters Bradburn, Hartline, and Genoways proven commodities on the line, the true players to watch are those who will look to replace skill position starters of last season. Juniors like Pace and Warthen will be key. Warthen improved each week last season at linebacker and could team with Brayden Lake to replicate last season’s productive rushing attack.
Coach’s quote: “I expect perfection in effort and in how we approach the game. Trae (Bradburn) is a horse. His work ethic is their and he is setting a good example along with guys like Gage Hartline.”
NO. 8 WILBER-CLATONIA
Coach: Lynn Jurgens, fifth season
Returning starters: RB Carter Zlab (Jr.), OT/DT Dalton Maly (Sr.), TE/DE Lucas Bowers (Sr.), OT/DE Chandler Oliver (Jr.), OG Connor Ksionzek (Sr.), LB Drew Tenopir (Sr.), LB David Zimmerman (Jr.), CB Sam Trosnynski (Sr.)
Players to watch: Having Tenopir back at middle linebacker should be key for the defense. The 190-pound senior led the team in tackles and will look to have another big season. Jordan Fiker’s success could be vital as well. The baseball pitcher could be the new starting quarterback to start the season.
Coach’s quote: “We need some leadership as we lost some key players. Quarterback and center are areas of concern but we should be solid at the other positions.”
NO. 9 GRAND ISLAND CENTRAL CATHOLIC
Coach: Charlie Shoemaker, fifth season
Returning starters: QB/S Alex Allen (Sr.), WR/S Phoenix Stevenson (Sr.), WR/C Logan Greenwalt (Sr.), RB/LB Jack Tynan (Sr.), FB/LB Dexter Puncochar (Sr.), OG/DE Zach Brittain (Sr.), OT/DE Jeremy Scarrow (Sr.), TE/LB Joe Krajicek (Jr.), TE/DT Yohanna Gaifhan (Jr.), RB/LB John Pfeifer (Jr.), WR/C Brady Brokaw (Jr.), OT/DE Christian Gappa (Jr.), OG/DE Levi Cornwell (Jr.)
Players to watch: A couple of the team’s strengths will be wearing jersey Nos. 76 and 81 next season. No. 76, Brittain, and No. 81, Gaifhan — both 6-foot-4 and more than 230 pounds — cast big shadows and are drawing recruiting interest, their coach said.
Coach’s quote: “We have a very solid nucleus back from last year. We have to replace some good players from last year as well. If we continue to get better every day and have great work effort and leadership, we will be competitive.”
NO. 10 BOYS TOWN
Coach: Kevin Kush, 18th season
Returning starters: OL/DL Spike Sharpe, FS Aryton O’Neal
Players to watch: The roster at Boys Town can see a lot of changes in a year. With graduations and students returning to the schools they attended before Boys Town, it can be hard to point out who will be the team’s main contributors even in early August. Sharpe and O’Neal garner the most interest early on due to their experience from last year’s 6-4 squad.
Coach’s quote: “This is the least we’ve returned since I’ve been here but that doesn’t mean we wont be good. I guarantee that we will compete and be, at the very least, competitive by midseason.”
— Grant Egger
To see previous entries from this series, go to NEPrepZone.com/prep-previews.