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First and Ten Rankings: Week Seven (2020)

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It’s to the point now that you are born into the Aurora football tradition given the last time they missed the playoffs — 2003 — most of their roster wasn’t even alive. Goodness.

So, shame on us for thinking what they did to our previous No. 1 Hastings on Friday night at Hastings College’s Lloyd Wilson Field was a fluke or an upset. Know this: 55-34 didn’t look like it. The Huskies — our new No. 5 team in a wide open Class B field — played with confidence from the get go.

When you are born into that tradition, you are a winner. And that leads to winning plays like the Huskies made in the fourth quarter, after Hastings had come back to tie the game at 34.

“Ultimately, it comes down to making plays,” Husky coach Kyle Peterson told the rankings after the game. “A big quarterback scramble and a couple of trick plays that were effective. High school football is about making big plays and our kids did that tonight.”

Let’s dive into the rankings. And, when you are done, get our prediction on the Class A bracket, which will be seeded by an NSAA committee this year.

Class A

  1. Bellevue West (4-0). Last week: 1. When the Birds get to play, they handle their business that’s for sure. Beat Millard West 42-7. Columbus before the bracket.
  2. Omaha Westside (7-0). Last week: 2. Beat Norfolk 52-3. A fun one on Friday as they get St. Thomas Aquinas from Kansas City at Phelps Field.
  3. Millard South (5-1). Last week: 3. Pulled away from Fremont, 41-17.
  4. Lincoln Southeast (7-0)Last week: 4. If they beat Gretna this week, they could have three wins over teams that get a first round bye in the playoffs.
  5. Elkhorn South (5-1). Last week: 5.  Controlled Gretna 35-10. Thursday night home game with Kearney and the Bearcats might have an outside shot at a bye with an upset.
  6. Omaha Creighton Prep (4-2). Last week: 6. If they handle Papio South like they did Lincoln Northeast a bye should be in the works for the Jays, mostly thanks to that miracle Millard West comeback.
  7. Gretna (6-1). Last week: 7. If the Dragons lose to Lincoln Southeast this week, they’ll be an interesting grade for the playoff committee. Why? The best win is Class B Omaha Skutt. That said, B has done pretty well against A this year. So, it might not matter.
  8. Lincoln East (5-2). Last week: 8. Just need to get past Lincoln Northeast. Can probably make a case for flipping them with Gretna. And Kearney could move in if they knock off Elkhorn South.
  9. Kearney (2-3). Last week: 9. Beat Lincoln High. The losses: Southeast, Westside, Bellevue West. You know what’s left.
  10. Millard West (1-5). Last week: 10. Somebody sue me for keeping Millard West here. The next best team is North Platte or Millard North. The ‘Cats beat Millard North. They play North Platte this week. Every loss is to a ranked team.

Comments: We’ll try to seed them all again at the bottom.

SURROUNDED: The Aurora defense — led here by sophomore Britton Kemling — applied pressure on Hastings quarterback Jarrett Synek most of the night. (nebpreps photo / Tony Chapman)

Class B

  1. Omaha Skutt (5-2). Last week: 4. Hastings loss to Aurora allows us to shake things up a little big and the Skyhawks addition of Sam Scott at running back, to us, makes them a favorite over the rest of the field. I guess we’ll see if we are right.
  2. Bennington (6-1). Last week: 5. Badgers rewarded for win over Elkhorn. Also beat Norris and Northwest and Aurora. Impressive resume. Not No. 1 because of loss to Skutt.
  3. Norris (6-1). Last week: 2. Can’t say that the Titans did anything wrong, but caught in the re-shuffle shuffle. Lost to Bennington 21-20 earlier this year, but were up 17-0 at half. Week nine vs. Waverly.
  4. Elkhorn (5-2). Last week: 3. Losses to Norris and Bennington with Skutt looming in week nine. Not sure anyone is going to want to play the Antlers in November.
  5. Aurora (5-2). Last week: 8. Impressive all the way around against Hastings. Physical line on both sides. Ethan Shaw doing everything right. Mack Owens a great two-way player. Huskies have a big one this week with Northwest.
  6. Waverly (5-2). Last week: 6. Are the Vikings back on track after a big win over Plattsmouth? We find out in week nine against Norris.
  7. Hastings (6-1). Last week: 1. The offense will rarely be an issue for the Tigers. But, it appears they are wounded on the line and teams could run the ball on them. Get a week of rest then a trip to Northwest.
  8. Plattsmouth (5-2). Last week: 7. Finish the regular season at Beatrice. Ninth game to Class A Bellevue East cancelled for the Class A playoffs and not sure Devils could find another opponent.
  9. Scottsbluff (4-3). Last week: 9. Bearcats have won four in a row and, guess what? That loss to Aurora doesn’t seem so crazy anymore.
  10. Grand Island Northwest (4-2). Last week: 10. Lost their homecoming game to York and now the last two weeks are stressful. At Aurora. Home finale against Hastings. Vikings better be ready.

Comments: These playoffs are going to be interesting.

STARRY NIGHT: Kearney Catholic quarterback Heinrich Haarberg slings a pass in the Stars 33-22 win over Adams Central on Friday night. (nebpreps photo / Dante Boelhower)

Class C-1

  1. Pierce (6-0). Last week: 1. Beat West Point-Beemer 45-8. A pair of 5-2’s left in Battle Creek and Wayne. Forgive us. We think the Bluejays will be 8-0 when the bracket comes out.
  2. Ashland-Greenwood (7-0). Last week: 3. Is their win against Wahoo, the second most impressive of the C-1 season after Pierce’s opener against St. Paul?
  3. St. Paul (6-1).  Last week: 5. Beat Central City 40-29 and the Wildcats get a bump after Kearney Catholic got Adams Central on Friday night. Guess who they play this week?
  4. Kearney Catholic (5-1). Last week: 7. Biggest win for Kearney Catholic this season as they defeated Adams Central 33-22. The most impressive thing? All those rushing yards. Stars keep that up, they’ll be a tough out.
  5. Adams Central (6-1). Last week: 2. Patriots get a big bounce back opportunity this week by hosting St. Paul. Double chin strap night.
  6. Cozad (6-1). Last week: 6. Beat Minden. Next Broken Bow. Then a trip to Kearney Catholic so we can sort this thing out.
  7. Auburn (6-1). Last week: 8. Rolled past Nebraska City. Moved ahead of Wahoo as that week one, 21-20 loss to Ashland-Greenwood keeps weighing more and more on our mind.
  8. Wahoo (5-2). Last week: 4. Is this too big of a drop for Wahoo? Maybe. Need a solid outing against Raymond Central this week.
  9. Wayne (5-2). Last week: 9. Need to beat O’Neill and then we get to grade them on their game with Pierce.
  10. Lincoln Christian (6-1). Last week: 10. Milford and Nebraska City left. An 8-1 Lincoln Christian would be a great playoff story.

Comments: Who are we watching? Mitchell, Chadron and Logan View/Scribner-Snyder all have one loss, but the big wins lack. And we’ve mentioned Gothenburg. Keep watching.

Class C-2

  1. Oakland-Craig (7-0). Last week: 1. Not many adjectives left for the Knights. The win streak is 20. Have beat No. 4 and No. 7 on this list. No 3 is coming this week.
  2. Ord (7-0). Last week: 2. Excellent that they picked up a game this week with Sutton after losing their regular game to Covid. Chants controlled it 35-16; a good pre-playoff test.
  3. Fremont Bergan (7-0). Last week: 3. Been tested plenty. The next one is Friday against Oakland-Craig.
  4. David City Aquinas (5-2). Last week: 5. Beat the public school 42-7.
  5. Norfolk Catholic (4-2). Last week: 6. Big finish for the Knights. Crofton and Hartington Cedar Catholic. Need them both to stay here.
  6. Sutton (4-2). Last week: 7. Just Gibbon and Doniphan-Trumbull left for the Mustangs who found out a little more about themselves in Ord. Usually ready come playoff time, aren’t they?
  7. Hartington Cedar Catholic (5-1). Last week: 4. A tough, but not the end of the world, loss to Oakland-Craig. Still have Norfolk Catholic left.
  8. Yutan (6-1). Last week: 8. Cruised past Syracuse, but if the Chieftains get to 8-1, will have our eyes on them for the playoffs. The wins would be against Neumann and Centennial.
  9. Wilber-Clatonia (4-1). Last week: 10. Bumping W-C up after the win over Centennial when Neumann lost the week before. Think the Wolverines can get to 6-1 before the playoffs.
  10. Wahoo Neumann (4-2). Last week: 9. Bounced back with 19-7 win over Lincoln Lutheran. Get a chance to move up this week against Yutan.

Comments: A chance we see Bridgeport and North Platte St. Pat’s each go 8-1 out west. The issue? Previous No. 10 GICC (4-3) beat St. Pat’s who beat Bridgeport.

QB QUADE: DCS quarterback Quade Myers looks for yards on Thursday night against Southern Valley. (nebpreps photo / Ben Mohorn)

Class D-1

  1. Burwell (7-0). Last week: 1. Longhorns beat 4-3 Anselmo-Merna 61-30. In a world where three wins can get you in the playoffs, Burwell will have played seven opponents with that many wins when the brackets are released.
  2. Cross County (7-0). Last week: 2. If running the ball is good in November, then let us tell you that Isaac Noyd and Carter Seim both have 1,000 yards in seven games.
  3. Dundy County-Stratton (6-0). Last week: 3. If we flipped these top-three teams all around, very few would argue we think. Tigers just as much a shot at Lincoln as the others.
  4. Wakefield (6-0). Last week: 4. Survived Laurel-Concord-Coleridge 30-24. Their toughest contest to date.
  5. Tri-County (6-0). Last week: 5.  Trojans lost their game to Freeman due to Covid.
  6. Lutheran High Northeast (5-1). Last week: 6. Still just the lone loss to Wakefield, but will get the same LCC team that just gave the Trojans fits to end the season.
  7. Nebraska Christian (4-1).  Last week: 7. Unfortunately, Covid has hit the Eagles, who have played just five games. With little practice, N-O could be a tough ask this Friday.
  8. Neligh-Oakdale (6-1). Last week: 8. Still just a loss to Burwell.
  9. Arcadia-Loup City (4-3). Last week: 9. Rolled past Shelby-Rising City
  10. Stanton (5-1). Last week: 10. Stanton’s lone loss also to Wakefield, but they have advantage over LCC based on 46-16 week two win.

Comments: All of the top-10 won or did not play. The playoff brackets are set after this Friday and will be released Saturday morning.

Class D-2

  1. BDS (6-0). Last week: 1. Lost their game to Giltner this week. Win over Lawrence-Nelson this week would clinch district title.
  2. Osceola (7-0). Last week: 2. Beat Lawrence-Nelson 60-16.
  3. Humphrey St. Francis (7-0). Last week: 3. Most everyone has kind of been waiting for the St. Francis, Central Valley contest on Friday night.
  4. Falls City Sacred Heart (5-1). Last week: 4. Lost their game with Omaha Christian Academy to Covid, but still humming along after their 50-30 loss to BDS.
  5. Central Valley (6-0). Last week: 5. CV went to Iowa for a Covid replacement game and beat their No. 5, 8-man team Fremont-Mills who has Husker recruit Seth Malcom, 25-16.
  6. Kenesaw (5-1). Last week: 6. The records might not show it, but this will be a big test with Palmer (3-4) this week.
  7. Pleasanton (7-0). Last week: 7. We get what we asked for. A big game in the final week with No. 8 Sandhills/Thedford.
  8. Sandhills/Thedford (7-0). Last week: 8. S/T has given up just 57 points in seven games. Pretty good in 8-man.
  9. O’Neill St. Mary’s (7-0). Last week: 9. Past two games — wins over Creighton and Bloomfield — have been nice pre-playoff tests.
  10. Loomis (6-1). Last week: NR. Nipped Medicine Valley 28-24 to earn the final spot. The only loss is to Kenesaw in week two.

Comments: Top nine teams either won or didn’t play.

Class Six-Man

  1. McCool Junction (6-0). Last week: 1. Still rolling. Beat Meridian 65-0. Will face Hampton next week before a finishing game with Dorchester (5-1).
  2. Sterling (6-0). Last week: 2. Would be an upset if the Jets didn’t enter the playoffs unblemished.
  3. Stuart (4-0). Last week: 3. Lost their game to St. Edward on Friday due to Covid. Their final game of the year with 5-1 Spalding Academy will be a nice pre-playoff test.
  4. Potter-Dix (5-0).  Last week: 4. Yotes have been solid throughout and will get another big test before the playoffs in week eight against Creek Valley.
  5. Red Cloud (5-0). Last week: 7. Their scheduled game with Franklin this week would have been a nice tool to look at in ranking the Warriors. But we’ll settle for moving them up a couple spots as an unbeaten.
  6. Creek Valley (5-1). Last week: NR. Storm climb into the rankings with one of the most prolific offenses in six-man and off an impressive 64-32 win over Arthur County.
  7. Arthur County (5-2). Last week: 6. Week off may be coming at perfect time for the Wolves. Have played five ranked teams in seven outings.
  8. Cody-Kilgore (3-2). Last week: 7. Lost another one to Covid (v. Crawford) this week and will finish the season with Hay Springs.
  9. Sumner-Eddyville-Miller (5-1). Last week: 8. Solid finish for SEM as they travel to Southwest and then host No. 10 Paxton to finish the season.
  10. Paxton (4-2). Last week: 10. Beat Creek Valley in week two, but still here based on losses are to Cody-Kilgore and Arthur County.

Comments: Still more to soak in here as we dropped Franklin from the rankings to make room for Creek Valley. Simply, we just don’t have enough data to keep the Flyers (3-0) here. Still also watching: Dorchester (5-1), Spalding Academy (5-1) as well.

Bracket Breakdown

Due to no football from Omaha Public School this fall, and multiple schedule adjustments to Class A football, the schools voted to end the season on October 16 (after eight weeks) and take all 24 teams playing this fall to the playoffs. The teams will be seeded with the top-8 getting a bye to the round of 16. Our look into how teams could be seeded as of games through October 9.

The rankings had the good fortune of getting a few minutes with NSAA football director Nate Neuhaus on Saturday afternoon to explain the process of putting the Class A bracket together for this year. The committee will meet beginning at 8:00 on Saturday morning, October 17 and Neuhaus believes a bracket will be released by mid-morning.

“Those coaches and players deserve to know as soon as they can who they will be playing so they can begin preparations,” Neuhaus said.

Here are the main changes due to the adjusted schedule.

  1. The seeding committee will consist of Neuhaus and five Class A athletic directors: Jason Ryan (Papillion-LaVista), JJ Toczek (Lincoln Southeast), Jordan Cudney (North Platte), Dr. Dan Schinzel (Creighton Prep) and Ben Ries (Norfolk).
  2. In seeding, the committee will rely on four main factors: wild card points, head-to-head competition, common opponents and replacement game results.
  3. Additionally, each school can submit one ranking of Class A that does not include their school that the committee will have access to view. The committee also has ballots out to select media members for review as a single portion of their process as well.

“The Class A schools felt this was the most equitable way to set the playoffs up as well as seed the teams given the disruption to district play,” he said. “The sooner we get this out on Saturday morning, the better. We have a great group on the committee and I think they will be efficient and work really well together.”

What remains to be seen is if the committee work is so successful that other classes try to adopt it through the legislative process.

“More and more schools are thinking outside the box,” Neuhaus said. “There is no rule that says it couldn’t be adopted in the future and used for all classes.”

Our thoughts below.

Byes: Bellevue West, Omaha Westside, Millard South, Lincoln Southeast, Elkhorn South, Omaha Creighton Prep, Gretna, Lincoln East.

17. Columbus (5-2) at 16. Lincoln North Star (3-4). Winner plays 1. Bellevue West (4-0).
24. Lincoln Northeast (0-6) at 9. Kearney (2-3). Winner plays 8. Lincoln East (5-2).

20. Papillion-LaVista South (1-5) Lincoln Southwest (3-4) at 13. Fremont (5-2). Winner plays 4. Lincoln Southeast (7-0).
21. Norfolk (1-6) at 12. Millard North (2-4). Winner plays 5. Elkhorn South (6-1).

19. Papillion-LaVista (2-5) at 14. Grand Island (2-4). Winner plays 3. Millard South (5-1).
22. Bellevue East (1-6) at 11. North Platte (4-2). Winner plays 6. Creighton Prep (4-2).

23. Lincoln High (1-6) at 10. Millard West (1-5). Winner plays 7. Gretna (6-1).
18. Lincoln Southwest (3-4) at 15. Lincoln Pius X (2-5). Winner plays 2. Omaha Westside (7-0).

TRIPLE THREAT: Shaw, Huskies bounce No. 1 Hastings

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