The NENextt 2020 Super-State Team was compiled by NENextt owner Ross Halford.
Players selected by in-person observation, online film, statistical production and feedback from coaches and fans. I saw almost every one of these players in person and watched well over 30 freshman teams throughout the fall, plus reviewed numerous video clips submitted. We looked at every corner of the state from Chadron, North Platte, Gering, Kearney, Aurora to the Lincoln and Omaha Metro areas. In all, there are approximately 80 schools in the state represented with a player on the Super State team or honorable mention list. These are your best 9th grade players in Nebraska.
Omaha’ Westside’s Jahmez Ross is the 2020 NENextt Nebraska State Player of the Year. A standout we first identified playing in the MYFL championship for the 7th grade Jr Vikes team, Ross played both RB and DB for the Warriors and did most of his damage making big play after big play from the offensive backfield.
He scored on the first carry in four of Westside’s nine games and on his 2nd carry in another three games. I concur with the Warrior coaching staff about his amazingly quick feet-a true make-you-miss in a phone booth type with amazing vision and great top end speed. Moved up to varsity after the 9th season concluded and received carries in clean up times for Warriors state semifinal run.
Ross is joined in the backfield by Millard South’s Nolan Feller and North Platte St. Pat’s Jackson Roberts.
We identified Roberts as one of the fastest junior high sprinters in the state two years ago and we believe he’s the best young player from the city of North Platte since Danny Woodhead. An absolute electric playmaker with incredible acceleration, Roberts racked up 1,365 yards on 107 carries (12.8 YPC!) and 21 TDs (151.7 yards a game). Against a very tough Sutton defense in the playoffs he racked up nearly 150 yards on the ground. Some of my contacts believe he’s going to be a D-1 player down the road and he’s well on his way to an amazing career for the Irish and Coach Kevin Dodson.
You could tell how valuable Feller was when the Patriots struggled without him against Gretna midway through the season. Not only was he a hard hitting safety but he ran for 621 yards on just 51 carries-an average of 12.8 YPC. In 8 games, he also had 35 tackles and 2 fumble recoveries from his S spot. My friend Mike Sautter compared him to a young Isaiah Harris, referencing the former Patriot who is now at the University of Nebraska.
Two quarterbacks were selected to the team, Daniel Kaelin of Bellevue West and Octavien Pirtle from Papillion-LaVista.
A relative unknown for us coming into the year, Pirtle claimed the starting QB job for the Monarchs midway through the season and proceeded to throw for 901 yards on the season. That kind of production at the varsity level in Class A for a freshman simply can’t be overlooked. Shows great poise and is excellent throwing on the run. Great accuracy and ability to get the ball into his receivers hands with great touch on the ball. Didn’t see him run much except within the pocket but he appears to have natural command of the offense and ability to drive his team down the field. With physical maturity and added arm strength, should be a big time player for Coach Williams and the best at this position for the Monarchs since former Husker and K-State QB Alan Evridge.
Kaelin was a prospect we identified well over a year ago and he has all the tools to be a prime recruiting prospect during the next three seasons. At the state’s premier program, he bypassed freshman football altogether and was the starting JV QB and took some snaps on varsity-he averaged nearly 200 yards a game through the air on JV. Great height, game understanding and next-level mechanics but what surprised us the most was his mobility, which wasn’t apparent a year ago. With how they develop this position at Bellevue West and this young guy’s desire to excel at the game, he should be challenging for a starting position next year. His film simply jumps off the screen as one of the most advanced young signal callers we’ve seen at this age.
The wide receiving crew features three talented playmakers in Omaha Westside’s Teddy Rezac, Bellevue West’s Dae’vonn Hall and Blair’s Brady Brown.
Brown was also identified last year and he was an amazing possession receiver that caught every single pass throw his way when I watched him compete. Just incredibly skilled with soft hands and great understanding of the offense-a real playmaker that nobody could cover. Pulled up to varsity midway through the season, he will be a force catching passes from standout QB Bode Soukup the next three seasons. Also registered 31 tackles on defense.
Rezac was a dynamic deep threat for the Warriors racking up big plays and amazing catches until he went down for the season with a collarbone injury against Norfolk in the middle of the year. We had seen enough by that time to know that he was one of the best receivers in the state at this grade level. Great hands and good speed, Rezac can play both receiver and defensive back. Watched him shred the Bellevue West freshman team to the tune of eight catches for 198 yards and two touchdowns.
We have talked about the star potential of Hall for over a year and he is arguably the state’s top 2024 prospect, having already earned a scholarship offer from the University of Iowa; the earliest ever recorded by a Nebraska player according to those that track such items. Hall went straight to varsity on a loaded Thunderbirds team and while he didn’t rack up the eye-popping numbers, you can only imagine what he would have done if he had played at a lower level. Simply put, one of the best young talents in years in this state and area. Has all the physical tools and work ethic to be one of the great players to come out of Nebraska-especially considering this is just his 2nd year of playing tackle football. The ultimate competitor and teammate, Hall will be a coverage nightmare for years to come.
The offensive line is loaded with talent and size, as each player already is at least 6-feet and over 200 pounds. Four hail from the Omaha metro and Cross County center Alex Noyd is the first ever 8-man player to be selected to the first team.
Noyd anchored the middle of the OL for powerful Cross County, he is an integral component of the historical Cougar ground game that averages over 450 yards per contest. Says Coach Hayden Delano, “Alex is ahead of his time as an athlete. Being a 205lb freshman isn’t the world’s most uncommon thing in HS football but his mental capacity for the game and his work ethic are rare, especially at his age. This summer he knew he had a chance to fill a starting role at center and took it upon himself to get himself ready.”
Aidan Miller has been a household name on the youth circuit for many years and he carried that dominance straight to the Millard South program becoming the only Patriot freshman to suit up on varsity at the end of the season. Tenacious in both running and pass blocking and a nearly unstoppable force from the interior DL spot. High motor and next-level frame should get him plenty of looks from colleges starting very soon.
Christian Coffman is the most dominant run blocking lineman I’ve seen in four years at the helm of NENextt. An absolute punishing blocker who often drives opponents 10 yards down the field and racks up knockdown after knockdown with his relentless attacking style. Double up as a relentless pass rusher from the DE spot as well. Coffman is simply wired differently than most young players I watch and is a perfect fit for the run-heavy Mustang offense. Relentless motor and desire to destroy opponents from across the line of scrimmage and a pure pleasure to watch compete.
There were numerous standouts on the Storm freshman line but Ashton Murphy has some special skills that should make him a very desirable recruit when colleges come calling in the future. One former D1 lineman told me he’s the best young line prospect he’s seen around the area in years. He was incredibly fun to isolate and watch rack up knockdown blocks and terrorize opposing QBs off the edge.
Coach Logan Paben describes him as a selfless, physical player who arrives violently at the point of contact. Says Paben “He was one of our top-5 fastest players on the entire team. Ashton was very coachable and improved each game. This is largely due to the way he practices. He is a smart player that knows the offensive and defensive schemes well. He was very versatile and could play in a 3 technique, 2i technique, or 5 technique on defense.”
Yes, Westside had this many fantastic players on their 9th grade team this year-the first unbeaten group of freshmen for the school since 1991. At 6’4 260 Broc Regnar the road grader has coveted major-college size and measurables and stood out at the left tackle position. WHS Freshman O-lineman of the Year and led his team with most pancake blocks.
Isaiah Weber is the epitome of what a Super State 9th grade selection is all about and has been selected as the 2020 NENextt Defensive player-of-the-year. While not the biggest player on the field, no player showed more heart and determination than any other 9th grader I watched this fall. Cut from the same mold as 2019 State Defensive Player of the Year Trace Marco,
Weber drew unsolicited praise from every single coach that played against Gretna this year. He was pulled up to varsity for the Dragons at the end of the season and drew respect from older teammates for his standout work on the scout team and practice habits. Just a flat-out football player through and through and he never disappointed on a single play during the multiple times I watched him this fall.
Says Coach Mike Kayl, “He is a natural leader on the field and in the weight room. He truly understands his technique as a backer and uses his natural instincts to always be around the ball. He’s a kid that has a great work ethic and attitude. From the weight room to the field he goes all out. Very strong lifter which transfers over to how hard he runs the football and tackles on the defensive side of the ball. One of the better runners I’ve seen that gets yards after contact when running the football. He refuses to go down. Defensively he plays sideline to sideline from inside backer and is a sure tackler.”
Joining Weber in the linebacking corps, are Millard West’s Noah Blair, Battle Creek’s Trent Uhlir and Beatrice standout Noah Jobman.
Jobman was an absolute terror from the middle linebacker spot for Beatrice, he simply took over games, especially the Plattsmouth contest at the end of the year where he made three straight tackles behind the line of scrimmage on consecutive plays. Natural instincts allow him to quickly read and react and attack opposing offenses. Distant relative of former Husker Randall Jobman. Also an elite baseball player so options should be strong for continuing athletic career beyond HS.
Millard West has a long tradition of elite players at this position and Blair could be next in line. One of his teammates described him as a Hulk that runs like a Cheetah. Got dinged up a little bit in the middle of the season so I only got to evaluate him a bit but he’s a physical punishing player that looks for contact on both sides of the ball. Also a standout wrestler, which is a combination that should serve him well over his HS career.
Son of former Battle Creek legend and former Husker Todd Uhlir, Trent is on track to become one of the most dominant players in the state starting next year. Knows the weight room and brings a physical punishing style from his linebacker spot and running the ball. Injured late in the season and missed the playoff game against Auburn. Finished 2nd in the state among 11-man freshmen with 35 tackles on the season. Also a standout baseball player with next-level ability in that sport.
The defensive line also features four 6-foot, 200 pounders who are for sure running their family refrigerator out of milk.
Oakland-Craig’s JT Brands was as good as advertised this season and his next level potential is evident with his high-motor, physicality and incredible strength and quickness, especially at DE. He reminds me of a young Cade Haberman in terms of build and demeanor. A cousin of the famed Brands brothers of Iowa wrestling, he should be an absolute nightmare for opposing teams over the next three years.
Says Coach Joe Anderson, “JT is by far one of the best freshmen I have ever coached. Typically lineman are not ready to come in and play right away as freshmen, but JT is such a strong kid and great athlete, he was ready from day one. He is currently 6’1 220 and very strong (bench-225, squat 385, clean 255). He plays with great leverage and with a very high motor. I thought coming into the year he would contribute, but he has turned into one of our best linemen. He is playing at a very high level right now. He has such a great work ethic, I can’t wait to watch him develop over the next 3 years.”
Omaha Westside’s Jonqual Osler just turned 14 in August so could actually be a 2025. Osler was a dominant 3-4 DE for the Warriors causing havoc all over the field while being virtually unblockable whenever we watched him play. Incredible versatility to either play the edge or at an OLB spot. Tremendous upside with the relentless motor-was brought up to varsity for the postseason run. Big time talent.
JR Leucona was the heart and soul of the Millard South defense racking up a team-high 84 tackles, 14 for loss with 4 sacks and 1 INT in just 8 games from his DL spot. A complete disruptive force and athlete-extraordinaire, Lecuona is on track to be one of the most dominant two-way linemen in the state in the years ahead.
There were multiple standout 9th graders in the defensive backfield for the Monarchs this year and Payton Prestito was a standout on the JV and one of four freshman listed on the varsity roster. Prestito has a tremendous background with the sport having played in the USA Football bowl games in both 7th and 8th grade. Joining fellow freshmen Jordan Barrientos and Cal Price, this bunch should make PLV should be a no fly zone over the next several years.
McMorris was probably better known as an elite basketball standout but he went right to starting cornerback for the Class A Mustangs and ended the season with 20 tackles and two for loss. Should be one of the best all-around athletes in the Omaha Metro for the next three seasons.
Benning has been a household name on the future stars list for many years and he is arguably the best overall all-around 9th grader in the state. Moved to varsity after the freshman season concluded and probably could have moved up earlier in the season. Returned four of his first six punts for touchdowns until teams started kicking away from him.
Says Coach Dana Rezac, “He can run, catch, pass, block and tackle. More than that, he is a great teammate. Super high football IQ. Lockdown corner. Best freshman in the state. Period.”
Jackson doubled as a playmaking RB and outstanding shut down corner. He has been a household name on the youth level for many years and should be one of the state’s premier players in the future.
Omaha Westside kicker Will Bauerly rounds out the team. Bauerly caught our eye kicking perfect PATs against Norfolk and sure-enough he was also the first freshman to be elevated to varsity for Westside (maybe it’s just that easy to spot a talented kid). One of the best 03 (2003) soccer players in the state, he missed just one extra point on varsity and became a solid field goal option from 40 yards in. Also put the most kickoffs back to the 2 yard line giving Warriors great field position.
NENextt 2020 Nebraska Freshman/Offensive Player of the Year
Jahmez Ross, Omaha Westside
QB-Daniel Kaelin, Bellevue West 6’2 175
QB-Octavien Pirtle, Papillion-LaVista 5’10 155
RB-Jahmez Ross, Omaha Westside 5’10 170
RB-Nolan Feller, Millard South 5’5 145
RB-Jackson Roberts, North Platte St. Pats 6’ 170
OL-Broc Regnar, Omaha Westside 6’4 260
OL-Aidan Miller, Millard South 6’3 240
OL-Alex Noyd, Cross County 6’ 205
OL-Ashton Murphy, Elkhorn South 6’4 205
OL-Christian Coffman, Millard North 6’2 215
WR-Dae’vonn Hall, Bellevue West 6’2 175
WR-Brady Brown, Blair 5’10 165
WR-Teddy Rezac, Omaha Westside 6’ 160
NENextt Defensive Player of the Year
Isaiah Weber, Gretna
DL-JT Brands, Oakland-Craig 6’2 220
DL-JR Lecuona, Millard South 6’1 215
DL-RJ Eckhardt, Omaha Westside 6’2 220
DL-Jonqual Osler, Omaha Westside 6’ 210
LB-Noah Blair, Millard West 5’10 175
LB-Trent Uhlir, Battle Creek 6’ 200
LB-Isaiah Weber, Gretna 5’6 155
LB-Noah Jobman, Beatrice 5’10 175
DB-Caleb Benning, Omaha Westside 5’10 160
DB-Vontay Jackson, Millard South 5’8 140
DB-Payton Prestito, Papillion-LaVista 5’7 150
DB-Isaiah McMorris, Millard North 5’11 170
K-Will Bauerly, Omaha Westside 5’9 150
Class A: Kyler Seaman, Omaha Westside RB; Anthony Rezac, Omaha Westside QB; Trevor Spady, Omaha Westside WR/S; Jackson Wing, Omaha Westside OL; Bo Ryan, Omaha Westside LB; Caeden Olin, Millard South QB; Ben Menichetti, Millard South WR/DB; Max Gray, Millard South OL; Nzaire Djissenou, Millard South DB; Braylon Hamilton, Millard South RB/DB; Austin Witzke, Millard South LB; Maddox Georgius, Millard South OL; Kaleb Panowicz, Millard South QB; Cade Zavala, Bellevue West LB; Charlie Gewinner, Bellevue West RB; Chris Lawson, Bellevue West DL; Dean Donaldson, Bellevue West QB; Amar Scott, Millard North RB; Evan Hansen, Millard North QB; Will Granger, Millard North DB; Jackson Williams, Millard West RB; Brody Peterson, Millard West QB; Carson Rauner, Elkhorn South QB; Randall Frederiks, Elkhorn South DB; Thomas Alsup, Elkhorn South WR/DE; Henry Prochazka, Elkhorn South OL/DL; Ben Gustafson, Elkhorn South OL/DL; Collin Pike, Elkhorn South RB/LB; Brady Bosquet, Elkhorn South RB; Luke Hoskinson, Elkhorn South WR/DB; Wyatt O’Mara, Elkhorn South OL; Ryan Uhl, Creighton Prep RB/LB; Zander Rueling, Kearney WR/DB; Abel Molina, Kearney RB; Karter Lee, Kearney WR/DB; Lincoln Phillips, Kearney QB; Kaleb Richardson, Grand Island DB; Dane Arrants, Grand Island DB; Reid Kelly, Grand Island TE/DE; Ryan Coslor, Grand Island RB; Tanner Sutfliff, Grand Island OL/DL; Cal Price, Papillion-LaVista DB; Isaiah O’Brien, Papillion-LaVista QB; Kylan Connor, Papillion-LaVista South RB; Nathan Devose, Papillon-LaVista South DE; Tyler Miller, Papillion-LaVista South QB; Bennett Steele, Papillion-LaVista South WR/DB; Carter Fedde, Columbus RB/DL; Tanner Esch, Columbus RB; Dylan Crumley, Columbus WR; Braylon Vancura, Columbus QB; Jack Rhoades, Gretna QB; Joey Vieth, Gretna WR/DB; Alex Runge, Gretna RB; Bennett Stock, Gretna OL; Daniel Johnson, Lincoln North Star RB; Connor Alley, Lincoln NE DB; Anthony Clark, Lincoln NE OL/DL; Tanner Eisenhauser, Norfolk QB; Tanner Novosad, Lincoln Southwest RB; Dash Bauman, Lincoln East RB/LB.
Class B: Mason Villwok, Elkhorn RB/LB; Collin Hinkle, Elkhorn OL/DL; Eli Holt, Norris RB; Blake Macklin, Norris RB; Crew Meints, Beatrice QB; Bode Soukup, Blair QB; Jay Unger, Blair WR; Ethan Baesler, Blair RB; Noah Kuefler, Blair DL; Triston Clausen, Blair OL; Garrett Rine, Waverly RB; Clay Shafer, Omaha Roncalli LB; Kellen Peterson, Aurora OL; Jeriah Station, Elkhorn North RB; Brock Marler, Elkhorn North OL/DL; Nathan Rodenbaugh, Elkhorn North RB; Nazerth Robinson, Hastings RB; Nolan Hyde, Hastings OL/DL; Carlos Espino, Hastings RB; Joe Stein, GINW OL/DL; Nathan Carkoski, GINW RB; Canyon Hosick, McCook QB/LB; Layton Carpenter, McCook OL/DL; Patrick Gross, McCook WR/DB; Morgan Collingham, York RB/LB; Seth Erickson, York RB/LB; Evan Utecht, Bennington WR/LB; Quinton Archer, Bennington RB/LB; Landon Krause, Omaha Skutt TE/DL; Evan Eich, Omaha Skutt RB/DL; Maxwell Chandler, Omaha Skutt RB/LB; Ryan Frazell, Omaha Skutt RB/LB; Anthony Heithoff, Omaha Skutt RB/LB; Morgan Finkenbinder, Omaha Skutt WR/DB; Caleb Adkins, Plattsmouth RB/LB.
Class C/D: Nick Conant, Adams Central RB; Brandon Kollars, Norfolk Catholic RB; Nolan Fennessy, Norfolk Catholic DL; Ben Sousek, Norfolk Catholic OL; Alex Langenfeld, Archbishop Bergan K; Jaden Williams, Doniphan-Trumbull; Keegan Stobbe, Platteview WR; Cael Peters, Mitchell RB; Waylon Cronk, Wood River QB; Trent Moudry, Bishop Neumann DL; Riley Sudbeck, Hartington-Newcastle QB; Bryson Gadeken, Neligh-Oakdale WR/RB; Chase Ferstenau, Neligh-Oakdale QB; Jaydon Hissong Thayer Central DE; Colton Klosen, Howells-Dodge LB; Traegan McNally, Ainsworth WR/DB; Trey Connell, South Loup QB; Kale Gustafson, Osceola LB; Drew Erhart, Palmyra QB; Will Kulhanek, Overton RB; Haydn Farr, Maywood/Hayes Center QB.