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 A 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.
* * *
CLASS A NO. 3 MILLARD SOUTH
Coach: Andy Means, 10th season.
Last season: The Patriots lost in state semifinals to Millard North 38-35.
QB Anthony Cloyd (Sr.), WR Ryan Devries (Sr.), OL Austin Kraft (Jr.), OL Van Nelson (Sr.), DL Christian Jelinek (Jr.), OLB Cody Knapp OLB (Sr.).
Bryce Sosnowski and Freeman Coleman: The all-state defensive linemen combined for 30 sacks last season. That kind of production doesn’t come along each year. The stat line for this year’s inexperienced line likely won’t be at the same level but Means likes what he has coming up talent-wise.
KEY RETURNING PLAYER
Cloyd: The strong-armed senior returns for his third year at the helm. Last season, Cloyd threw for 1,706 yards, 13 touchdowns and six interceptions and rushed for 488 yards and nine touchdowns. Means said his signal-caller is stronger this year and is at his most confident after some recent success in his other sport, baseball. “I think, because he’s been a starter for three years, he’ll elevate the inexperience around him,” Means said. “He’s got as strong of an arm as we’ve had since I’ve been here.”
Transfers: The Patriots added some underclassmen via transfer but it remains to be seen whether the players will immediately contribute at their new school.
KEY POSITION CHANGES
Millard South got its pieces in line the past few years and coach Means doesn’t expect kids to move around much. “We’re plugging guys into places where they’ve played, so far.”
The Patriots’ spread offense will go through Cloyd early and often to start the season. The veteran will have to lead a unit that returns just four starters. Austin Kraft is a 305-pounder to watch on the line, while Ryan Devries and Cody Knapp will look to make impact plays from multiple positions. Both are listed at less than 175 pounds, but each comes with good athleticism. Devries received Class A honorable-mention honors in baseball and Knapp has competed at the state track meet. Specialist Scott Botkin could be one of the best kickers in the state and has range out to 44 yards, his coach said.
Millard South has even more starters to replace on defense. The two players the Patriots’ return to their speed-focused 4-4 are good building blocks. Junior defensive lineman Christian Jelinek is strong with good football sense and should be a difference-maker after a solid sophomore season. Knapp returns at outside linebacker, providing good speed to a defense that needs it to excel.
GAME TO WATCH
Aug. 29, Millard North
Omaha Benson, Omaha South, Omaha Westside, Papillion-La Vista South
“We’ve got some really good talent, the more consistent we get the better we’re going to be.” — Means
Aug. 29, Millard North
Sept. 6, at Bellevue West
Sept. 12, Lincoln Southeast
Sept. 19, at Millard West
Sept. 27, at Omaha South
Oct. 4, Omaha Westside
Oct. 11, at Papillion-La Vista South
Oct. 18, Omaha Benson
Oct. 25, Papillion-La Vista
– Grant Egger
To see previous entries from this series, go to NEPrepZone.com/prep-previews.