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First and Ten Rankings: Week Three (2020)

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First and Ten is back for 2020. Are you ready? We certainly are, so let’s do everything we can keep this season going and to crown some champions in November. Four weeks (three for most, less for others) in and we think we have seen some teams that will contend for titles a little later on.

What we have learned so far? Football is a physical game and the team that can run the football and be on the attack with speed on defense has the best chance of going far in November. We’ll try to make our rankings show that. Let’s dive in and have some fun.

“We’re physical. Probably a lot of people would say we are old school. That’s just my roots with my dad coaching for 50 years. I learned everything from him. We are run oriented. A lot of people think it’s boring football. Our kids have really embraced being the most physical team on the field.”

— St. Paul coach Rusty Fuller after a 33-7 win over Kearney Catholic

Class A

  1. Bellevue West (1-0). We are going to defer to the champions until someone proves us wrong. The first team to get a chance? Look two spots down. A big one Friday night.
  2. Omaha Westside (3-0). Much like Bellevue West, we’ll keep the Warriors here until proven otherwise. Gonna be interesting to get a grade on Westside. Remaining schedule has one win on it, but wins over Kearney and Prep do hold weight. Will play St. Thomas Aquinas from Kansas City in a replacement game on October 16.
  3. Millard South (3-0). Have survived some big tests early (Millard West and Elkhorn South) and get the biggest yet on Friday. Could they knock off the Birds who have not lost since the 2018 semifinals. 
  4. Lincoln Southeast (3-0). Impressive wins over Grand Island and Kearney have LSE unbeaten. Some nice tests remain, including Creighton Prep this week. Elkhorn South awaits in week nine, as does currently unbeaten Gretna.
  5. Elkhorn South (2-1). Late Carson Crouch field goal helped them past Millard West in week one. Lost to Millard South in week two. A chance now to rattle of some wins — they’ll need them to stay here — before finishing with Gretna, Kearney and Lincoln Southeast. 
  6. Millard West (1-2) 
  7. Kearney (0-2)
  8. Grand Island (1-1) 
  9. Omaha Creighton Prep (1-1) 
  10. Gretna (3-0)

Comments: The bottom is a hodgepodge of teams we don’t know much about yet. Gonna be a wild ride in Class A to see how this all shakes out. We even hear there maybe adjustments to the playoffs.

Elkhorn quarterback Grant Gutschow fires a ball from his own end zone in the Antlers 13-7 win over Waverly (nebpreps photo / Ben Mohorn)

Class B

  1. Bennington (3-0). It’s likely we’ll get lambasted for the ratings by some of our central Nebraska fans and followers. And that’s okay. The good guys — the players and coaches — will ultimately settle this on the field. Saw the Badgers up close and personal. Tyler LeClair is a fantastic football player and Kam Lenhart has a nice QB in Kale Bird.
  2. Norris (2-1). Led Bennington 17-0 at the half on Friday. Lost 21-20. The guess here is the Titans and coach Ty Twarling would like another shot.
  3. Elkhorn (2-1). Gonna be a lot of dog fights in Class B this year. Elkhorn going to be in a bunch of them. Bounced back from opening loss to Norris with wins over Roncalli and Waverly, the last a 13-7 meat grinder.
  4. Waverly (2-1). Most were thinking of a continued top ranking for the Vikings after their week two win over Skutt. But, Elkhorn had other ideas last Thursday.  
  5. Hastings (4-0). Remember what we said up top. We need an up close and personal look at the Tigers before moving them up. Lost to Waverly in 2019 quarterfinals and need good reason to get them in this group. What’s Charlie Shoemaker got going for him? A bunch of speed and a gunslinger named Jarret Synek.
  6. Omaha Skutt (2-1)
  7. Grand Island Northwest (2-1)
  8. McCook (1-1)
  9. York (1-1)
  10. Plattsmouth (3-0) 

Comments: Really think those five eastern teams Bennington, Norris, Elkhorn, Waverly and Skutt could produce all four semifinalists. A lot of time to see this thing play out. Northwest gets another “eastern” test this week when Waverly visits.

St. Paul quarterback Brendan Knapp tries to elude a Kearney Catholic defender in the Cats 33-7 win. (nebpreps / Tony Chapman)

Class C-1

  1. Pierce (3-0). A few things. State finals in 2019. Talent back. And we were super impressed with St. Paul. And we know what Pierce did to St. Paul. Also, coaching. Here until we get proven wrong.
  2. Adams Central (3-0). Lost some talented playmakers. Replaced them with other talented playmakers. The Patriots look as locked in as their 2019 semifinal team. Week two win over Wahoo extra impressive. Big one against No. 7 Cozad this week.
  3. Wayne (3-0). Some close early calls for the Devils. This week’s result will carry some weight. See below.
  4. Ashland-Greenwood (3-0). Bluejays moved talented basketballer Cale Jacobsen to quarterback from receiver and haven’t skipped a beat. Big test against Wayne this week will determine an up or down move next week.
  5. Wahoo (2-1). Still like the Warriors here. Gonna need to be 5-1 heading into October 9 game with Ashland-Greenwood.
  6. St. Paul (2-1)
  7. Cozad (3-0)
  8. Kearney Catholic (2-1)
  9. Auburn (2-1)
  10. Columbus Lakeview (1-2). Losses to Pierce and Wayne.

Comments: A week that could shake up rankings with these games: A-G at Wayne, AC at Cozad and undefeated, unranked Lincoln Christian hosting Lakeview. Christian gets Auburn next week as well.

Class C-2

  1. Oakland-Craig (3-0). Defending champs (sensing a theme here?). Might rank them third or fourth in Class C-1. So, here we are. Norfolk Catholic this week. Defense has allowed two touchdowns in three weeks and the natives are getting restless.
  2. Ord (3-0). Football team. Tommy Stevens and Zach Smith want to run you over. Could kicker (and wide receiver and safety) Kelen Meyer be a difference maker on a cold, November night?
  3. David City Aquinas (3-0). “Awful skinny playbook isn’t it? Well, I run six plays. Split veer. It’s like Novocaine. Give it time it always works.” Can anyone send us a scout on the Monarchs or are we good?
  4. Fremont Bergan (3-0). Solid start for the Knights with O-C and Aquinas still on the slate. Bergan will be battle tested and ready for the playoffs when they come.
  5. Wilber-Clatonia (3-0). Clear team to be in the title chase after a 13-12 win over Sutton. Not that it knocks the Mustangs out either. You probably won’t “out scout” Wolverine coach Lynn Jurgens, one of the best in the state.
  6. Sutton (2-1)
  7. Wahoo Neumann (2-1)
  8. Hartington Cedar Catholic (3-0) 
  9. Bridgeport (3-0)
  10. Norfolk Catholic (1-2)

Comments: Still sorting out the bottom of this class. You kind of need to see Norfolk Catholic win some games to stay alive and they have Oakland-Craig this week and Wayne later. North Platte St. Pat’s drawing interest in a game against GICC this week. ‘Saders 1-2, but without Marcus Lowry and Isaac Herbek for losses to Sutton and Bergan.

Cross County’s Carter Seim ran over, through and around Blue Hill in a season opening 70-12 win. (nebpreps photo / Tony Chapman)

Class D-1

  1. Burwell (3-0)
  2. Cross County (3-0)
  3. Dundy County-Stratton (3-0)
  4. Wakefield (3-0)
  5. Lutheran High Northeast (3-0). Battling this ranking out on Saturday afternoon with Wakefield.
  6. Howells-Dodge (2-1) 
  7. Amherst (3-0). Some impressive early wins for the Broncos.
  8. Tri-County (3-0). Trojans will prove their ranking. Final five opponents are 11-4.
  9. EMF (3-0). Tri-County this week.
  10. Neligh-Oakdale (2-1) 

Comments: How wide open has Class D-1 been historically? Last year in our final regular season rankings the two finalists — Osceola/High Plains and Burwell — weren’t even ranked. You could see a bunch of the same this year, but three teams — in our mind — have jumped to the top. You’ll see them in the top-three above.

Class D-2

  1. BDS (3-0). Dropped from D-1. Seniors have lost two games in their careers. Shocked Falls City Sacred Heart last week, 50-30.
  2. Osceola (3-0). Remember OHP last year? Most of the young talent was from Osceola.
  3. Humphrey St. Francis (3-0). Curious to follow the Flyers who had to survive 0-3 Palmer (those are three good losses, too), 44-38 last week.
  4. Falls City Sacred Heart (2-1). Hard to drop the Irish much lower.
  5. Central Valley (3-0). Beat Palmer 52-16 before HSF had to survive.
  6. Kenesaw (3-0)
  7. Pleasanton (3-0) 
  8. Sandhills/Thedford (3-0). Have allowed six points. Signs point to a week eight clash with Pleasanton.
  9. O’Neill St. Mary (3-0)
  10. Medicine Valley (3-0)

Comments: Usually get a bunch of teams that go undefeated for a long time in Class D-2 and looks like it could happen again this year. Teams spread out and in different districts. Remember 8-man brackets this year will be east-west for first round only.

Class Six-Man

  1. McCool Junction (3-0). Last year’s runner-up appears to be the clear front runner.
  2. Arthur County (3-0)
  3. Sterling (3-0)
  4. Stuart (1-0). Broncos down from 8-man and could be a contender.
  5. Cody-Kilgore (1-1). 2019 semifinalist had 54-39 loss to Arthur County.
  6. Red Cloud (3-0)
  7. Paxton (1-1). Also down from 8-man. Lost to Cody-Kilgore 25-12.
  8. Creek Valley (2-1)
  9. Sumner-Eddyville-Miller (2-1)
  10. Potter-Dix (2-0)

Comments: McCool Junction seems to be the clear favorite here and the contenders early appear to be Sterling and Arthur County.

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