Flores and Kaelin
Gretna's Zane Flores (left) and Bellevue West's Daniel Kaelin (Nebpreps.com photos/Mike Sautter)

Clark’s Corner: Flores-Kaelin a rare QB matchup we haven’t seen in a long time


Clark’s Corner, 9/27: Two quarterbacks with bright college futures will highlight Friday’s Gretna-Bellevue West showdown. You might want to watch.

You don’t get an on-paper, lick-your-chops kind of a football game like Bellevue West-Gretna each week.

Two teams with state title hopes – The Dragons are ranked No. 2 in Class A and the Thunderbirds are seventh – are set to meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Gretna High School.

How often do we see a game anchored by two highly touted Power Five quarterback recruits in Nebraska?

The Corner did some research. Well, Mike Sautter did a lot of the digging (which led to a picture of a napkin with Drew Brees’ name on it … don’t ask). If you account for true quarterbacks (and not athletes who played QB in high school but were recruited at a different position) it hasn’t happened in at least 20 years. When it comes to passing talent, maybe never.

We’re in store for a rare night when Gretna’s Zane Flores and Bellevue West’s Daniel Kaelin – a pair of pro-style quarterbacks – tie their cleats in a few nights. Flores committed to Oklahoma State in April. Kaelin, a 6-foot-2 and 195-pound junior, has multiple offers, including Nebraska, Florida State, Michigan State, Missouri and Arizona State.

Kaelin is three weeks removed from throwing for 394 yards and three touchdowns against top-ranked Omaha Westside. A week later, Kaelin added 342 yards and two scores against Kearney.

Gretna coach Mike Kayl expects his defense to be greatly tested by Kaelin, who has thrown for 1,767 yards and 19 touchdowns in his first season as a full-time starter.

“There’s always challenges when you see good quarterbacks like that,” said Kayl, who notes the Dragons must defend pinpoint passes in practice when facing Flores. “That’s a big thing for our defense to learn on a daily basis.”

Like Kayl, Bellevue West coach Michael Huffman and his staff must find a way to keep an elite quarterback from marching down the field. The 6-4, 195-pound Flores is completing 70% of his throws, has 12 TD passes and just two picks. An effective ground attack has relieved some pressure for Flores.

“Him making his decision and committing to Oklahoma State, and him being really happy with that decision I think takes a lot of that pressure off, too,” Kayl said. “He doesn’t have to focus on any of that. He’s just out there playing football right now, enjoying his senior year with his senior classmates and getting the underclassmen to play as well as they have been.”

There is excellent quarterback play in Class A. Millard South’s Cam Kozeal, Omaha Westside’s Anthony Rezac and Omaha North’s Sebastian Circo help make up a strong crop of signal-callers.

That said, it’s hard to beat the arm strength and accuracy of Flores and Kaelin. Here’s guessing they put on a show Friday.

“That’s something you don’t see often in the area … and that’s a tribute to those two and the coaching that those two have had in their development over the years,” Kayl said. “I think it’s going to be an exciting atmosphere, the ball is going to get chucked around on both sides. The crowd I’m sure is going to enjoy two good performances by two good quarterbacks.”

There goes that Noecker kid again

Carson Noecker earned some well-deserved praise last week after he won his division at a national cross country race in California. It didn’t take long for the Hartington-Newcastle senior to leave a similar impression on Nebraska soil.

Noecker won the Class C boys race at the Nebraska-Kearney Invitational on Monday in an eye-popping time of 14 minutes, 51 seconds. That’s a course record at Kearney Country Club, which is home to the state meet.

Noecker, a three-time state champion, will return to the same spot next month for the season’s biggest meet. I’ll say it again: Make time to watch this talented runner. He only has a few high school races remaining.

A lot of Pride for 1972

There was a football reunion last Friday night at Omaha Roncalli, but it wasn’t your ordinary get-together. Members of the 1972 team (back then the school was known as Omaha Rummel) gathered to revive some memories from a Metro championship run.

The trophy from that season also returned. It had been in possession of the 1972 coach, who was living on the West Coast. Now the trophy is back home. It probably didn’t take long for school officials to make room for it in the trophy case.

Pierce’s Scholting in the zone

Some college football program is going to get a very, very good quarterback in Pierce’s Abram Scholting. The senior had himself a night Friday against Wayne, accounting for seven touchdowns, including five passing scores and an interception return for TD. The Bluejays won the game 58-6.

The 6-foot, 180-pounder has 18 touchdown passes and one interception through five games this season.

A one-win, two-milestone for Wewel

Longtime Archbishop Bergan volleyball coach Sue Wewel reached a pair of milestones in one night last week. Wewel earned her 500th career win at Bergen and her 750th overall following the Knights’ three-set sweep of Bishop Neumann.

Nebraska has produced some great volleyball coaches – Sharon Zavala, Joanne Kappas, Jake Moore, Rochelle Rohlfs, Alan VanCura, Steve Morgan and Diane Rouzee. Wewel is among them.

Wewel is second among active coaches in career wins, trailing only Zavala of Grand Island Central Catholic.

That’s a start!

Jessica Baker has some work to do if she wants to reach 750 career wins. But she’s off to a good start at Lincoln Southwest.

The Silver Hawks are 15-2 and ranked No. 1 in Class A in Baker’s first season. Baker was Southwest’s junior varsity coach for three seasons before taking over for Mark Novotny.

Class A volleyball is wide open this year, and Southwest is in the mix.

Can the Hawks become the first Lincoln school to win a Class A title since Lincoln Northeast in 1998?

Volleyball Coaches Poll: 09.26.22

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