The boys are back in town.
I don’t know why, but that song by Thin Lizzy was stuck in my head during the entire ride from Northwest High School in Grand Island to my home in south Lincoln on Monday afternoon.
I had just gotten done watching the first of Grand Island Northwest’s two-day football jamboree, and, yeah, football is back, folks. At least slightly back. We’ll need to wait until the fall season kicks off to proclaim it fully back.
Nonetheless, the pads were poppin’, the coaches were coachin’ and the heat was rising on the grass practice fields next to where Northwest plays.
Coming into Monday, 14 teams were listed to compete at the jamboree, including Aurora, Bennington, Bridgeport, Columbus Lakeview, Crete, Grand Island Senior High, Holdrege, Kearney Catholic, McCook, North Platte, GI Northwest, South Sioux City, Valentine and Wood River-Shelton. Some of those teams were at a second location, Grand Island Senior High.
There was some scrimmaging on the field Northwest plays on during the fall, but most of the action took place in the practice area next to the stadium. That’s where I spent most of my time, taking pictures and video of the action while watching some of the athletes I may be writing about in the fall.
One team that caught my eye was the host, GI Northwest, which made the Class B quarterfinals last fall. To me, the Vikings had a couple players that looked like they were the top dogs.
A lot of eyes were on 2023 defensive end/EDGE Victor Isele, and rightly so. At 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, Isele’s build looked different than everyone else who competed on Monday. During drills as a defensive end, he was rarely slowed by the blocker or blockers across from him. He was very quick in his movements, and you could tell he was really trying to work on the technical parts of his moves and overall game. It was fun stuff.
I caught up with Isele, who had 77 tackles and a team-high nine sacks last year as a sophomore, following one of the sessions. He mentioned he has an unofficial visit to Nebraska on June 18. Keep an eye on this kid. Here’s the video:
Another Viking I kept finding myself watching was 2022 LB/TE Aidan Davies. He looked the part and had to be the biggest ‘backer there today at 6-2, 220 pounds. Davies was second on the team in tackles last season with 119. In fact, the Vikings’ top two tacklers are back for their senior years, including senior-to-be Gibson Kennedy, who had the most with 137.
To me, it looked like Davies was flowing well to the ball carriers during drills and filling his gaps. Here’s an example of Davies shedding a block during a drill and making the tackle:
With North Platte in town, I wanted to finally get a look at 2022 LB/ATH Vince Genatone, who has offers from Southern Miss, Montana and Northern Arizona. If you don’t know about this kid yet, read about him here.
Like he did as a junior last fall, Genatone is going to have another big season for the Class A Bulldogs.
At 6-1 and 205 pounds, Genatone, who racked up 102 tackles in 2020, provides speed at middle linebacker, and that was easy to see when North Platte was scrimmaging Columbus Lakeview on Monday.
Pretty cool to see the Genatone father-son combo today in Grand Island.
Vince (@genatone_v), a 2022 LB/ATH, is one of the top multi-sport athletes in the state and will star for the Bulldogs again this fall.
— Steve Marik (@Steve_Marik) June 8, 2021
One specific play I remember was when the Lakeview offense motioned into a jet sweep read-option play, and Genatone, who begins out of the frame in the clip below, took on a block from the center and swallowed up the ball carrier. Here’s the play:
I’m likely missing many more storylines, of course. But long story short: the football was good on Monday.
The boys were back.
— Steve Marik (@Steve_Marik) June 7, 2021