As we all gather to sit down and break bread with family and friends for Thanksgiving, I think many of Lincoln's football teams are looking back at the 2016 season and giving thanks to the success they achieved.
While teams like East, Southeast, Pius X, Lincoln High and Southwest didn't walk away with any hardware, it marked the turn around of high school football in Lincoln, after the low-point in 2015.
Nothing against teams like Northeast and North Star, who were the only two Class A qualifiers in 2015 with 4-5 records, but having five teams reach the field of 16 is a vast improvement.
After a 7-4 campaign that ended in the Class B quarterfinals in 2015, Pius X got off to a 5-0 start in Class A before stumbling the last four regular season games and still managing to get a playoff spot. Still, I think it's a great start to the Ryan Kearney coaching era.
Southeast's talent finally demonstrated how successful they can be, although the loss to East in the first round of the playoffs will sting for a while. My guess is the Knights could be back in playoff contention next year.
Southwest, with first year head coach Andrew Sherman, made a surprise appearance in the playoffs by going 4-5 in the regular season and accumulating enough district wins. Tough thing to see was the Silver Hawks get a first round draw against Omaha North, the eventual state runner-up.
Lincoln High is a team on the rise, period. The Links made their first playoff appearance in more than 12 years and demonstrated they can compete with the big boys. Let's face it, they competed and had a lead against state champion Bellevue West in the first round. If this team sticks together, watch out.
East showed heart while battling through injuries to finish 7-5 and fall in the Class A semifinals. After losing to Omaha North in Lincoln back on Sept. 29, the Spartans rolled through their next five opponents to face the Vikings again, this time in the semifinals and fell 41-28.
As for North Star and Northeast, there's talent in both programs and it's nothing but up for them. Both had difficult schedules and hopefully this year's experiences help in preparation for next season.
Lincoln Lutheran found themselves with a winning season for the first time in more than five years. Lincoln Christian, while struggling, ended the season on a good note with three straight wins over Ashland-Greenwood, Milford-Dorchester and Southern.
Norris enjoyed another great season, reaching the playoffs and finishing with an 8-3 record. Despite losing to Omaha Skutt 35-28, the Titans competed until time ran out. Coach Jim Jacobsen certainly has to be thankful for the way his team performed this year.
After back to back seasons of reaching the Class B playoffs, Waverly found themselves struggling through the year after picking up a big win on the road at Columbus to open the season. With the pending loss of Dillon Ruelas due to graduation this coming spring, the Vikings now focus on having Rhett Jordan as their starting quarterback. He proved at times during the season that the Viking offense could rely on him in a pinch.
I'm already wishing it was August and fall practice was in full swing. Next season should be fun to watch.
BASKETBALL SEASON IS HERE!
Not a fan of the winter season by any stretch, unless it's basketball. That's the one thing that keeps me sane through the cold months of the year.
This will likely be an exciting year for the boys basketball teams in Lincoln. Teams like Northeast, East, Lincoln High and Pius X could be the front runners but don't discount Southeast, North Star and Southwest.
The girls side of things could be just as interesting. East, Northeast and Southwest seem to be early favorites, but don't leave out Pius X and Southeast either. Lincoln Christian, for the third year in a row, returns all five starters and the expectation to win out in Class C1.
Coverage of high school basketball starts Dec. 1, as the Northeast boys host Omaha Creighton Prep here on LincolnPrepSports.com.