In a wide open Class C-1 field, how far can Boone Central and Columbus Scotus advance? (nebpreps photo / Mike Sautter)

The Picks: Nebraska State Football Playoffs


Life is too short to not put your thoughts out on the line every once in awhile, so it’s time to give some thoughts on the 2021 football playoffs. And, we need to weigh in on some changes that we think could make things even better for a great month of football.

Before we go, it’s been a heck of season. Some classes are wide open and some classes you feel that there could be up to 8-9 teams that could win a state championship. Who can put it all together? We are going to try and give it our best shot below.

Let’s hope over these next 30 days we can appreciate great coaches and great kids giving their best effort. And, let’s also thank the people who help make it all possible — from the offices in Lincoln, to the administrators getting ready for game day, the officials and coaches who give so much of their time.

“Trophies collect dust; memories last forever.”

Class A

First Round: Millard South over Omaha North; North Platte over Columbus; Gretna over Lincoln East; Elkhorn South over Kearney; Bellevue West over Papillion-LaVista; Creighton Prep over Grand Island; Lincoln Southeast over Omaha Burke; Westside over Papio-South. Sleeper: Lincoln East.

Quarterfinals: Millard South over North Platte; Elkhorn South over Gretna; Bellevue West over Creighton Prep; Westside over Southeast.

Semifinals: Millard South over Elkhorn South; Bellevue West over Westside.

CHAMPION: Millard South

Quick thoughts: It seems that three teams have risen to the top of the heap in Class A: Millard South, Westside and Bellevue West. The Patriots got Bellevue West in 42-28 in week four after a close first half. Westside has not played either, but the that time they lost — the 2019 state championship game to Bellevue West — we didn’t even know what Covid was.

Westside played five straight playoff teams to open the season, but has not played one in the month of November. We give a slight edge to Bellevue West in that semifinal, but it could go either way. The A semifinals could be an awesome show.

Class B

First Round: Bennington over McCook; Northwest over Waverly; Omaha Roncalli over Seward; Elkhorn over York; Plattsmouth over Omaha Gross; Omaha Skutt over Norris; Scottsbluff over Beatrice; Aurora over Lexington. Sleeper: Norris

Quarterfinals: Bennington over Northwest; Elkhorn over Roncalli; Plattsmouth over Omaha Skutt; Aurora over Scottsbluff.

Semifinals: Bennington over Elkhorn; Aurora over Plattsmouth.

CHAMPION: Bennington

Quick thoughts: First, kudos to the Class B coaches and administrators for voting in the high seed hosting throughout the playoffs. A wonder move for this class with 75% of their teams located Grand Island and east. A west team going through a dominant regular season can also earn a host (see: Scottsbluff) each year and maybe even host more than one game.

Well, we say the Aurora, Bennington clash in week two and we wanted it to happen again. We think everything could play out that way and what a fun way to end the first night of the football finals if it does happen. Can Aurora figure out a way to slow down Dylan Mostek and could it be with a more power-oriented, ball control offense. With no offense to anyone else, when two teams rise to the top, you pick those teams to win the most games in November.

Class C-1

First Round: Ashland-Greenwood over Adams Central; Pierce over Broken Bow; Chadron over Battle Creek; Columbus Scotus over Fort Calhoun; Boone Central over Wayne; Columbus Lakeview over Milford; Wahoo over Auburn; Kearney Catholic over Boys Town. Sleeper: Broken Bow

Quarterfinals: Ashland-Greenwood over Pierce; Columbus Scotus over Chadron; Boone Central over Columbus Lakeview; Kearney Catholic over Wahoo.

Semifinals: Ashland-Greenwood over Columbus Scotus; Boone Central over Kearney Catholic.

CHAMPION: Boone Central

Quick thoughts: We still have rotating home-away site possibilities in Class C-1 and Class C-2. Certainly, the class is the hardest and most wide open to pick. We can go all the way down to Columbus Lakeview to see a champion so we hope you’ll take these picks with a grain of salt.

Chadron is unknown but their scores pop. Broken Bow is a team that could hold the ball on you; they will need to convert in the red zone against Pierce. Boone is the most athletic team I saw (I didn’t see Ashland-Greenwood). Kearney Catholic is still spreading you out, but now pounding the ball at you with Riley Greiser (and Brett Mahony is still a 1,000 yard passer).

This class will come down to line play, tackling and making plays. May the best team win.

Class C-2

First Round: Norfolk Catholic over Crofton; Cedar Catholic over North Platte St. Patrick’s; Bishop Neumann over Hastings St. Cecilia; Yutan over Wilber-Clatonia; Ord over Centennial; Lincoln Lutheran over Gordon-Rushville; Aquinas over Sutton; Archbishop Bergan over Oakland-Craig. Sleeper: Cedar Catholic

Quarterfinals: Norfolk Catholic over Cedar Catholic; Yutan over Bishop Neumann; Ord over Lincoln Lutheran; Archbishop Bergan over Aquinas.

Semifinals: Norfolk Catholic over Yutan; Archbishop Bergan over Ord.

CHAMPION: Archbishop Bergan

Quick thoughts: It is hard to look past the two teams who are undefeated in the class this year: top-seeded Norfolk Catholic and top-ranked Archbishop Bergan. What could get the way of that game? Cedar Catholic flipping a 27-20 week nine loss to Norfolk Catholic. And, Ord pulling an upset in a 2020 state finals rematch.

HORNS UP: Can Burwell and Alex Gideon advance to the finals for a fourth straight season and sixth time in seven years? Their pursuit begins Friday. (nebpreps photo / Dante Boelhower)

Class D-1

First Round: Burwell over Humphrey/LHF; Anselmo-Merna over Stanton; Howells-Dodge over Laurel-Concord-Coleridge; Dundy County-Stratton over Nebraska Christian; Arapahoe over Perkins County; Neligh-Oakdale over Hitchcock County; Cross County over Weeping Water; Lourdes Central Catholic over Sutherland. Sleeper: Dundy County-Stratton

Quarterfinals: Burwell over Anselmo-Merna; Howells-Dodge over Dundy County-Stratton; Arapahoe over Neligh-Oakdale; Cross County over Lourdes Central Catholic.

Semifinals: Burwell over Howells-Dodge; Cross County over Arapahoe.


Quick thoughts: There are so many teams who could win Class D-1, but the picker believes in fate. And, I think that Burwell will play every game with someone watching over them. Call it a hunch. Also, they are really, really good.

But, just the road to Lincoln is going to be brutal. Look: A-M might have the best defense in 8-man; Howells-Dodge or 2020 champion Dundy County-Stratton. Mercy. On the other side Cross County and Lourdes jump to the top of the watch list; and if they meet it will be at the corner of US 81 and Nebraska 66. 

Class D-2

First Round: Sandhills/Thedford over Mead; Osceola over Leyton; Riverside over Johnson-Brock; Bloomfield over Elgin Public/Pope John; Pender over BDS; Mullen over Ansley/Litchfield; Kenesaw over Falls City Sacred Heart; Humphrey St. Francis over Blue Hill. Sleeper: FCSH

Quarterfinals: Sandhills/Thedford over Osceola; Riverside over Bloomfield; Pender over Mullen; Kenesaw over Humphrey St. Francis.

Semifinals: Sandhills/Thedford over Riverside; Kenesaw over Pender.

CHAMPION: Sandhills/Thedford

Quick thoughts: Another big ugh bracket in Eight Man-2. First off this guy is dumb enough to pick against Doug Goltz. No idea why. Absolutely none. That 7-10 game on Friday could be for a trip to the finals, but Humphrey St. Francis could have something to say about that as well. Still the ultimate feeling is that Dane Pokorny and the hombres from S/T get it done. Maybe one of the best teams in eight-man, no matter the class.

Class D-6

First Round: Potter-Dix over Sioux County; Silver Lake over Parkview Christian; McCool Junction over Franklin; Sterling over Spalding Academy; Red Cloud over Pawnee City; Wallace over Hay Springs; Arthur County over Sumner-Eddyville-Miller; Cody-Kilgore over Stuart. Sleeper: McCool Junction

Quarterfinals: Potter-Dix over Silver Lake; Sterling over McCool Junction; Red Cloud over Wallace; Cody-Kilgore over Arthur County.

Semifinals: Sterling over Potter-Dix; Red Cloud over Cody-Kilgore.

CHAMPION: Sterling

Quick thoughts: Continuing the trend of the previous runner-up winning the title the following season, we take Sterling to win the six-man title. It won’t be easy with one-loss Spalding Academy first followed by a possible game with defending game McCool Junction (which would be on the road). Unbeatens Red Cloud and Cody-Kilgore lead the other side with Arthur County and S-E-M having a rematch of their first week 101-80 game that Arthur County won.

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