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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CLASS C-1 NO. 2 BOONE CENTRAL/NEWMAN GROVE
Coach: Arnold Johnson, 27th season
Last season: Boone Central/Newman Grove went 11-2 with both losses coming to Norfolk Catholic — a 35-31 regular-season loss and a 24-13 defeat in the C-1 championship.
Returning starters: OG/DE Alex Wiese (Sr.), WR/S Derek Gentrup (Sr.), FB Kody Sock (Sr.), TE/LB Tyler Hedlund (Sr.), OC Zach Roberg (Sr.), C Noah Weidner (Jr.), OT/DE Ethan Wilke (Sr.), RB/LB Matthew Brugger (Jr.), OT/DT Alex Hayes (Sr.), DT Michael Lipker (Sr.), DT Jacob Atwood (Sr.).
Tanner Mazour, QB: Mazour was the Cardinals’ field general the past three seasons. He accumulated about 2,000 yards of total offense in 2012, completing 55 percent of his passes. He will be difficult to replace.
KEY RETURNING PLAYER
Wiese: With 20 seniors, this could go many directions. Two-way starter Gentrup should be crucial to the receiving core, but Wiese’s presence could be the most vital to the Cardinals’ season. He was an all-district linebacker last season with 52 tackles, but he’ll play defensive end this season. Hedlund, whose 68 tackles earned him all-district honors, should now be the center of the Cardinals’ linebacking corps.
Return from injury: Bryce Paulson suffered a string of concussions in 2012, but he’s been medically cleared to return to the field this season. The offensive lineman will hope to stay healthy and make an immediate impact.
KEY POSITION CHANGES
Wiese: In order to adjust to depth, coach Johnson has moved his star player from linebacker to defensive end. With Wiese’s skillset, the transition should go smoothly.
Bringing in a new quarterback is never easy, but surrounding him with experience definitely helps. Gentrup and Hedlund provide quality targets, and returning an honorable mention all-district center in Roberg should ease in the new QB. But the million dollar question is, who will that be? The position battle is between Wyatt Mazour, brother of former-starter Tanner Mazour, and Kyle Kramer.
Simply put, this defense was stellar last season. In five of eight regular season contests, the opposition failed to score double digits on Johnson’s stingy group. With a number of returning playmakers, including all-district players Wiese and Hedlund, this 4-3 defense could once again be one of the most feared in the class.
GAME TO WATCH
You have to believe that this group is looking forward to another shot at two-time defending champion Norfolk Catholic. The Cardinals get their opportunity on the road Sept. 13.
Columbus Scotus, Columbus Lakeview, David City, Madison
“Our team has very high expectations, just like last year. The difference is that we were a bit of a surprise to others last season, but not to ourselves. We have a little more depth and a lot of potential.”
Aug. 30, at West Point-Beemer
Sept. 6, Pierce
Sept. 13, at Norfolk Catholic
Sept. 27, at Columbus Scotus
Oct. 4, David City
Oct. 11, at Madison
Oct. 18, Columbus Lakeview
Oct. 24, Grand Island Central Catholic
— Steven Elonich
To see previous entries from this series, go to NEPrepZone.com/prep-previews.