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First and Ten Rankings: Week Five (2020)

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Osceola football coach Bob Fuller looks like he should be enjoying retirement somewhere. The mountains of Colorado? A warm spot like Texas or Arizona, maybe. But, heck, it’s football season and Bob Fuller is doing about all he knows. Coaching football.

And, when you have an 8-man bunch like he does at Osceola, you do it with a pretty wide grin. On Friday, his Bulldogs ran for 609 yards on 65 carries. That’s gonna win you plenty of games, especially as it gets colder. The hard part for the Bulldogs so far has been the schedule. And, so despite Palmer’s now 1-4 record — they’ve lost to four ranked teams below — Osceola was ready.

“We felt like this would be a four quarter game and we needed one of these,” Fuller said. “They played three different defense and the kids adjusted well to them. Our offensive line  — they are back from last year — those kids just get it done. They talk to each other, they cover each other’s hind end and I am just really proud of those kids. It all starts up front, we know that. The most our top kids have played is about a quarter and a half.”

That line —  Corby Cannon, Kane Benson, Carter Girard, Kyle Sterup and Thad Rathjen — gets their name right here. Let’s give you a quick breakdown of what the Bulldogs did Friday in their 74-36 win.

Tailback Bryce Reed scored from 65 yards on the first play of the game and had 321 yards on 26 carries. Carson Watts had 15 carries for 130 yards. Xavier Blackburn came in after halftime and had 10 carries for 110 yards. You get the drift.

The Dawgs had 19 rushing attempts over 10 yards and racked up 25 first downs on the ground. Mercy. Let’s rush our way into the rankings.

Class A

  1. Bellevue West (3-0). Last week: 1. Did about whatever they wanted to Kearney. Don’t play again this week. Guess where Bellevue West is ranked next week?
  2. Omaha Westside (5-0). Last week: 2. Pounded Grand Island, up 28-0 at the end of the first quarter. Have scored at least 42 in every game. We think the real upset will be if we don’t have a championship rematch.
  3. Millard South (3-1). Last week: 3. Week off. Finishing with Pius, Fremont and North Star. Will need to be 6-1 to keep this ranking.
  4. Lincoln Southeast (5-0). Last week: 4. The Knights have a little Kansas State in them. They control the ball. Play defense. And they aren’t afraid to do it. Are they maybe the one team, because of style, who could get West or Westside if things went right? That said, they might also lose a game that someone mucks up, too.
  5. Elkhorn South (4-1). Last week: 5. Bellevue East, then Gretna and Kearney to finish. Lost the final regular season game to Southeast due to the adjusted Class A playoffs.
  6. Omaha Creighton Prep (2-2). Last week: 8. Mercy. Down 26-0 with about nine minutes left, Prep scored 29 unanswered points to steal a win from Millard West. It vaults them past Gretna this week.
  7. Gretna (4-0). Last week: 9. Dragons will be tested soon, starting, actually, this week with Class B, No. 4 Omaha Skutt.
  8. Millard West (1-3). Last week: 6.
  9. Kearney (0-3). Last week: 7. The losses: Southeast, Westside, Bellevue West. What’s left? Columbus, Lincoln High, Elkhorn South.
  10. Millard North (1-3). Last week: 10. North Platte, Columbus and Fremont have every right to be steaming at this ranking. They each have chances to prove us wrong.

Comments: Millard West, Lincoln East, Columbus, Fremont and North Platte all have games before the season is over that should help us sort this bottom out.

OPEN FIELD: Omaha Skutt fullback Barret Liebentritt find some space to run against Elkhorn North on Thursday night. The Skyhawks won 35-6. (nebpreps photo / Ben Mohorn)

Class B

  1. Hastings (5-0). Last week: 1. Third straight shutout for the Tigers who have given up 20 points in five games. To us, more important than the offense we talk about. York, Aurora, BYE, Northwest to finish. We’ll know if they are ready for the playoffs.
  2. Norris (4-1). Last week: 2. Hammered Beatrice. Plattsmouth this week and a Pius, Waverly finish for the Titans.
  3. Elkhorn (4-1). Last week: 3. Still have Bennington and Skutt left. If they survive those are they the team to beat in Class B. Maybe?
  4. Omaha Skutt (4-1). Last week: 4. Survey Class B coaches and see if any of them want to play Skutt right now. Not sure you’d find a yes vote. The good news for Class B? They get Class A, No. 7 Gretna this week.
  5. Bennington (4-1). Last week: 5. Beat a really nice Blair team on Friday. It wouldn’t take much convincing for us to think that Skutt and Bennington are the two best teams in the class. B is chock full.
  6. Waverly (3-2). Last week: 7. 
  7. Plattsmouth (5-0). Last week: 8. We will get a nice gauge on the Devils as they have back-to-back games with Norris and Waverly the next two weeks.
  8. Aurora (3-2). Last week: NR. The losses are to Class A unbeaten North Platte and Bennington. Big road trip — literally and figuratively — to McCook this week.
  9. Grand Island Northwest (3-2). Last week: 6. Hang over from beating Waverly the week before in a loss to Scottsbluff or are the Bearcats improving? Maybe a little of both. But, now the Vikings are fighting for a home playoff game.
  10. McCook (3-1). Last week: 10. All the sudden, games with Aurora this week and Scottsbluff in week nine seem a little bit more important.

Comments: The Northwest loss to Scottsbluff is hard to reconcile, but now the Bearcats have our full attention. Class B still feels pretty “east” heavy to the rankings.

Class C-1

  1. Pierce (4-0). Last week: 1. Lost a Covid game to Boone Central. All signs pointing to a week nine showdown with Wayne.
  2. Adams Central (5-0). Last week: 2. Should Adams Central get to the playoffs undefeated, they’ll have done it by beating four teams in this week’s top-10.
  3. Ashland-Greenwood (5-0). Last week: 3. Without all-stater Cale Jacobsen, the Bluejays have given Wayne and Raymond Central their only losses of the season. Decent.
  4. Wahoo (4-1). Last week: 4. Still like the Warriors here. Like we said, gonna need to be 5-1 heading into October 9 game with Ashland-Greenwood.
  5. St. Paul (4-1).  Last week: 5. Wildcats are the cream of their district, so it’s the non-district game with Adams Central that is most important before the playoffs.
  6. Cozad (4-1). Last week: 6. Three of remaining four games on the road, including week nine to Kearney Catholic.
  7. Wayne (4-1). Last week: 7. Nice bounce back against Battle Creek. Good test this week against Class C-2, No. 9 Norfolk Catholic.
  8. Auburn (4-1). Last week: 9. Flipping Auburn and Kearney Catholic this week based on Auburn’s win over Lincoln Christian and their week one result with Ashland-Greenwood.
  9. Kearney Catholic (3-1). Last week: 8.
  10. Mitchell (5-0). Last week: NR. Had it been a close one with Chadron, we may have considered leaving Lincoln Christian. But, we’ll give the nod to the Tigers for their 35-14 road win. No let up, though. Gothenburg and Ogallala the next two weeks.

Comments: The next three here are Raymond Central, Lincoln Christian and Falls City. All 4-1. The Crusaders will play Falls City this week.

BREAD AND BUTTER: Behind one of the best lines in small-class football, Oakland-Craig’s Caden Nelson takes a handoff from quarterback Grady Gatewood in the top-ranked Knights 28-12 win over No. 3 Aquinas (nebpreps photo / Ben Mohorn)

Class C-2

  1. Oakland-Craig (5-0). Last week: 1. Solidified their top ranking with a 28-12 win over No. 3 Aquinas who is not punished. How good is the O-C playing defense? Their opponents have completed just 21 passes in five games — seven of them to the Knights.
  2. Ord (5-0). Last week: 2. Haven’t allowed a point in two weeks. Get new No. 10 Grand Island Central Catholic this week. The Crusaders — winners of three straight — have a mighty tough task.
  3. David City Aquinas (4-1). Last week: 3. Played for a long time with Oakland-Craig. Now they can battle out this ranking with Fremont Bergan on Friday.
  4. Fremont Bergan (5-0). Last week: 4. Said it here 100 times. The Knights will be ready for the playoffs. Nice win over David City on Friday.
  5. Wilber-Clatonia (3-0). Last week: 5. Two weeks of quarantine for the Wolverines who missed a nice test game with Bishop Neumann. Yutan (4-1) now the start up game.
  6. Sutton (4-1). Last week: 6. The old Clay County brawl this week with Sandy Creek. It hasn’t been much for awhile, but nice to see the Cougars 3-2 heading in.
  7. Wahoo Neumann (3-1). Last week: 7.
  8. Hartington Cedar Catholic (5-0). Last week: 8.
  9. Norfolk Catholic (2-2). Last week: 10. Pretty good chance they stay in the rankings even if they lose to Wayne this week.
  10. Grand Island Central Catholic (3-2). Last week: NR. In the Gibbon, GICC, Bridgeport, North Platte St. Pat’s crossover, GICC survived 2-0 to earn the ranking. ‘Saders two losses are to Sutton and Bergan. But, it’s Ord this week.

Comments: Yutan has a chance to shake things up with a win against Wilber-Clatonia this week. And, we lose Bridgeport from these rankings but that’s the farthest thing from the Bulldogs mind. Our hunch says they can still go 8-1, though. We’d love to see them do it.

Class D-1

  1. Burwell (5-0). Last week: 1. Beat North Central. Gonna be ready for the playoffs, though. Arcadia-Loup City, Anselmo-Merna and Amherst in succession before the qualifying round.
  2. Cross County (5-0). Last week: 2. A well deserved bye week for the Cougars.
  3. Dundy County-Stratton (4-0). Last week: 3. DCS gets a strong finish as well, playing three teams who will likely be in the qualifying round. Starts with Hi-Line (4-1) this week. Also, we’d just like to type Hi-Line Bulls here once. Sounds like a football team.
  4. Wakefield (4-0). Last week: 4. Lost game last week to Plainview due to Covid. Let’s hope the Trojans don’t lose anymore as they are ineligible for the playoffs due to enrollment.
  5. Tri-County (5-0). Last week: 5. Beat previously 3-1 Heartland 60-20. Looks like their remaining three opponents — Southern, Freeman and Thayer Central — will also be in the qualifying round.
  6. Howells-Dodge (4-1). Last week: 6. Stanton and GACC before the Bacon Bowl with Clarkson/Leigh to end the season.
  7. Lutheran High Northeast (4-1). Last week: 7. Impressive Friday afternoon performance against Elkhorn Valley.
  8. Nebraska Christian (4-1).  Last week: 8. 
  9. Neligh-Oakdale (4-1). Last week: 9. 
  10. Arcadia-Loup City (3-2). Last week: 10. Have been doing most of their work without their best player, Jadyn Scott. Burwell this week, but even with a loss a 5-3 Raider team could be a load to deal with in the post season.

Comments: Some chances out there for some unranked teams to still raise some eyebrows in the final three weeks. Remember the new playoff format this year: 32 teams (16 east and 16 west) to qualifying. Then, a re-seed 1-16 with no geography after the opening round.

WATTS UP: Osceola fullback Carson Watts ran for 130 yards on just 15 carries against Palmer on Friday night. (nebpreps photo / Tony Chapman)

Class D-2

  1. BDS (5-0). Last week: 1. Have scored 56, 70, 50, 80 and 50. All eyes on Kenesaw this Friday. But, BDS looks pretty darn focused.
  2. Osceola (5-0). Last week: 2. You can see what they did to Palmer up top. Wondering if we could get these CRC mates to meet at East Hill Park in York? Maybe? Please?
  3. Humphrey St. Francis (5-0). Last week: 3. Strongly considered moving HSF down below Central Valley based on Osceola and Cougars results with Palmer after the Flyers just survived. But, have decided to let it play out on the field.
  4. Falls City Sacred Heart (4-1). Last week: 4. Not much between Del Casteel and the Irish until they hit 7-1.
  5. Central Valley (5-0). Last week: 5. CWC and then a week off to prepare for St. Francis. Only seven games on the Cougar schedule.
  6. Kenesaw (4-0). Last week: 6. Lost Lawrence-Nelson due to Covid this week to prepare for BDS on Friday.
  7. Pleasanton (5-0). Last week: 7. Still pointing to that date with Sandhills/Thedford.
  8. Sandhills/Thedford (5-0). Last week: 8. 
  9. O’Neill St. Mary’s (5-0). Last week: 9. Playing Creighton (5-0) for a ratings spot this week.
  10. Medicine Valley (5-0). Last week: 10.

Comments: Everybody won, again. So, this was kind of easy, again. Eyes on Creighton, again.

Class Six-Man

  1. McCool Junction (4-0). Last week: 1. Last year’s runner-up appears to be the clear front runner and there are no new doubters after an 87-38 win over Heartland Lutheran. Think we’ll just leave that comment here for awhile longer.
  2. Sterling (4-0). Last week: 3. Beat Deshler 63-18 and get 4-0 Dorchester this week. But, not a whole lot of meat left on the schedule and we’ll have to find out more in November.
  3. Stuart (2-0). Last week: 4. Appears the Broncos could be in position to rattle off some wins before a week eight game with Spalding Academy.
  4. Potter-Dix (4-0).  Last week: 8. The Yotes are the big movers based on a convincing 52-32 win over previous No. 2 Arthur County, who already had three ranked wins. Can’t let down for South Platte this week.
  5. Arthur County (4-1). Last week: 2. While the loss to Potter-Dix hurts, the rest of the resume is still there for the Wolves.
  6. Cody-Kilgore (2-2). Last week: 6. Defeated Sioux County 59-20, but have to drop to make room for Potter-Dix. Cowboys will need to win out to keep this spot.
  7. Red Cloud (3-0). Last week: 6. Passed test No. 1 in getting by defending champion Harvard. Now Wilcox-Hildreth and Franklin the next two weeks.
  8. Sumner-Eddyville-Miller (3-1). Last week: 7. A shame we don’t have their game with Stuart to further grade the top-10.
  9. Franklin (3-0). Last week: 9. Flyers lost their game to Wilcox-Hildreth on Friday due to Covid. Unsure if they will play Southwest (3-1) this Friday.
  10. Dorchester (4-0). Last week: 10. The Horns get tested this week, and the rest of October. Final four teams are 13-3. Their first four have won three games total.

Comments: We talked a lot up there. Plenty of teams cramming for the bottom of these rankings, but we feel pretty good about the first six.

A Parting Shot — Remembering Josh

I never met Bridgeport senior strong safety/tight end Josh Warren. Kind of wish I would have. But, you can tell by reading about him, that he was a guy you’d want by your side.

State qualifying wrestler. Leading tackler for the Bulldogs who were off to a 4-1 start, despite a loss to North Platte St. Pat’s on Friday night. Did all the little things a coach asked him to do.

And, then, like that, he was gone. The fatal victim of an auto accident in the early morning Saturday on Highway 26 near Bridgeport. I can’t imagine the unfathomable hurt his family, teammates and the community of Bridgeport must feel right now.

And, when his coach summed up what he meant to their cause it makes you hurt even more.

“He had such a quiet confidence about him that made him such an outstanding player on the field, and even better teammate off the field,” Bridgeport coach Jeremy Reimers told News Channel Nebraska.

“He just did his job and did it well, and expected nothing less from everybody around him. There aren’t enough words. He will be greatly missed as a player, teammate, and phenomenal young man. My heart goes out to him and his family. Nothing but love for #29.”

They will honor Josh tonight in Bridgeport with a vigil. And, you can guess that his teammates will carry on the best they can. That his helmet or jersey will be with them on the bench for a few more weeks. That his spirit will lift them up.

And, if the wins come with it, it might help a town heal a little faster. But, it will still hurt for a long time. Hug your kids one extra time before bed tonight.

First and Ten Rankings: Week Four (2020)

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