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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C-1 NO. 4 ADAMS CENTRAL
Coach: Bill Carlin, 24th season
Last season: Lost to Boone Central/Newman Grove 21-14 in the state semifinals.
Returning starters: OG/DL Lathan Smidt (Sr.), RB/LB Buzz Niederklein (Sr.), OG Ben Pfeifer (Jr.), FB/LB Jack Barry (Jr.), WR/DB Derek Lonowski (Sr.)
Newcomers: RB/DB Logan Bowen (Sr.), OL/DT Jesse Lincoln (Sr.), OT/DL Alex Meier (Sr.), OT/DL Chase Morlang (Sr.), OL/DT Nate Schrock (Sr.), RB/LB Alex Keller (Sr.), QB/DB Dylan Steinkruger (Jr.), TE/LB Jerome Halsey (Jr.), C/DL Josh Meyer (Jr.), OT/DT Jacob Consbruck (Jr.), WR/LB Evan Lindblad (Jr.).
Jesse Ackerman, TE/LB: On a team that shutout six opponents in 12 games, Ackerman was the key cog. He earned first-team all-state honors in 2012, recording 126 tackles (95 solo), 17 tackles for loss, two sacks and two interceptions. Ackerman also played in the Shrine Bowl before starting his college football career at UNK.
KEY RETURNING PLAYER
Niederklein: Gone is workhorse running back Jake Fowler, who rushed for more than 1,700 yards and scored 24 touchdowns. Niederklein will get the call at tailback and linebacker, replacing Fowler and Ackerman. Niederklein has s started on defensive since his sophomore season and rushed for more than 800 yards last year as a backup.
There isn’t anything real tricky to what the Patriots do. Opponents have been familiar with Adams Central’s I-formation for two-plus decades. More often than not, the Patriots are successful. Adams Central is willing to include packages for certain players to mix it up once in a while. Carlin said that’s always an option, but he’ll wait until fall camp before deciding on those players. The Patriots graduated a good portion of the offense last season including a quarterback, running back and half of the offensive line. Steinkruger and Breckon Reed will duel to earn the QB spot.
“We always hang our hat on that side of the ball,” Carlin said of his defense. Carlin said his players take a lot of pride in their defense and it shows. The Patriots outscored opponents 397-60 last season, an average of five points against per game. Adams Central often gets its players experience on defensive early in their careers. That method should again pay big dividends in 2013.
GAME TO WATCH
at Wilber-Clatonia, Sept. 13
Grand Island Central Catholic, Gibbon, Central City, St. Paul
“We’re a little old school in that we still think we can win with a good defense, a good kicking game and a sound running game.”
“We have a great tradition at Adams Central, and our kids take a lot of pride in that. We talk to the kids a lot about how they’re not just playing for themselves but they’re also playing for all the guys that came before us and all the guys that will come after us.”
Sept. 5, at Cozad
Sept. 13, at Wilber-Clatonia
Sept. 20, Fairbury
Sept. 27, Gibbon
Oct. 4, at Central City
Oct. 11, Minden
Oct. 18, at Grand Island Central Catholic
Oct. 24, St. Paul
— Nate Tenopir
To see previous entries from this series, go to NEPrepZone.com/prep-previews.