EAGLE WAY: Nebraska Christian running back Elijah Boersen ran for 79 yards and caught a 47-yard touchdown pass in NC's 24-14 playoff win over Hemingford. (nebpreps photo / Tony Chapman)

8-Man Playoff Recap: Nebraska Christian advances past Hemingford


CENTRAL CITY — To say that it’s been an interesting October for the Nebraska Christian football team would be a bit of an understatement.

But, the Eagles have rebounded and they stayed alive in the Class D-1 playoffs on Friday afternoon with a 24-14 win over Hemingford at Preferred Popcorn Field at Central City High School.

Nebraska Christian was humming along at 4-1 through September heading into a game with East Butler on October 2nd. Then, a Covid outbreak hit the school and team. The Eagles had to cancel two games and a week-plus of practice right in the middle of the season.

“This whole year, our kids haven’t panicked,” Nebraska Christian coach Andy Falk said. “We were down late to Arcadia-Loup City and scored late, we played Cross County tough.

“And, then we lost 10 days of practice heading into the Neligh-Oakdale game last week. We just didn’t play very well and they are really good.”

FOLLOW ME: Nebraska Christian’s Elijah Boersen follows the block of quarterback Dayton Falk in Thursday’s 24-14 win over Hemingford in the Class D-1 football playoffs. (nebpreps photo / Tony Chapman)

What you’ll see is that all three of those teams Falk mentioned will still be playing next Friday in the 8-man playoffs. So, it’s an awkward record Nebraska Christian (5-2), but make no mistake, the Eagles will be ready for their next challenge at Elm Creek next week.

So, from 4-1 when the calendar hit October, and then three weeks later the Eagles entered the playoffs 4-2. Only in 2020.

After a slow start on Thursday, the Eagles used some tough running from senior Elijah Boersen (19 carris for 79 yards) and a passing game that the scored touchdowns. Junior quarterback Dayton Falk threw three touchdowns in four passes during the second and third quarter that staked the Eagles to a 24-6 lead after Hemingford had scored on their first possession of the game.

Early in the second quarter, Falk flipped a shovel pass to Will Twogood (football name) who went 44 yards for a score. After a top, Falk got Boersen behind the defense for a 47-yard touchdown pass.

“We were able to do a good job in our play action game and made some big plays with nice throws,” coach Falk said.

On their first possession of the second half, Falk hit sophomore Drew Perdew for a 33 yard score that put NC in full control.

The Eagles then relied on defense after Hemingford scored late in the third quarter to cut the lead to 24-14. They stopped the Bobcats on downs at the 2 with 6:30 left and then Zach Egeland intercepted a pass on Hemingford’s final possession.

First round behind them, Andy Falk is happy to see his team advance.

“You know, we haven’t played very well our last couple of games,” coach Falk said. “We challenged them this week to get a little bit more physical like we were at the beginning of the year. I think we were maybe a little nervous coming in to this, but once it calmed down we did what we needed to do.”

Next stop: Elm Creek.

HERE COMES EASTON: BDS back Easton Weber churns his way for yards in the top-ranked Eagles 55-0 win over Elgin Public/Pope John on Thursday. (nebpreps photo / Taylor Siebert)

New Format Works

No one, it seems, is ever happy with the first round of the 8-man playoffs. Too many blowouts, they say. Too many teams in the playoffs, they say.

To this we say, whatever.

Unless the 8-man coaches are willing to bring back nine games — and with limited participation being a big concern of playing more games — this is the perfect format.

And, the new re-seed, to us, works like a charm but there should be one final fix: we need to protect the top-8 seeds into the next round for home games.

In Class D-1, the top-five seeds will go on the road for their round of 16 game as the bottom five seeds in the re-seed were all road winners. (Even more evidence that we should keep the 32-team format.) In Class D-2, the top three seeds — Falls City Sacred Heart, BDS and Central Valley —  will go on the road for round of 16 games.

That said, kudos to the 8-man coaches for making this change and getting the top-16 seeds put together with no regard to geography just like the other classes to get their best teams to Lincoln.

One last thing for 8-man coaches and athletic directors moving forward. The media want to be at your games on Friday’s. The new day moves you down the list for coverage, however, since you are battling with the 11-man schools.

Please get creative with your game times so we can make doubleheaders a thing. Work together with other local schools and athletic directors to have games times where multiple games can be covered. You’ll be glad you did.

We can’t wait to watch the rest of the playoffs. Let’s go have some fun.

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