Omaha North and Omaha Skutt are the clear cut favorites to make a run again this football season.
The Vikings, who return the state's top rusher and Division I prospect Calvin Strong, are looking to make their third straight trip to the Class A championship, after a runner-up finish in 2012 and capturing the state title in 2013.
Aside from Strong, North has lineman and Nebraska recruit Michael Decker and linebacker Jason Martin, who can be a force in stopping any team's running attack.
Class A talent looks to be loaded this year. Quarterback Pierce Almond, linebacker/tight end Kevin Cahoy and lineman James Swanson will look to keep Grand Island a power house. The Islanders, who lost in a thrilling semifinal game last season to state champion Omaha North, are ranked No. 2 in our Union Bank pre-season ratings.
Last year's runner-up, Omaha Westside, is ranked third. The Warriors have a talented junior class but the offensive and defensive lines are in a rebuilding stage.
Bellevue West may have the best group of athletes out of all the teams in the top ten. Wyoming football recruit CJ Johnson and football and basketball prospect Malik Hluchoweckyj are among the returning 13 starters. Johnson and Hluchoweckyj played on the Thunderbirds state championship basketball season last spring. Bellevue West is ranked fourth.
The rest of Class A could be a toss up. Millard North, Omaha Burke, Millard West, Lincoln Southwest, Omaha Central and Papillion-LaVista South could interchange with each other. Lincoln East, Norfolk, Lincoln Southeast and Millard South could also make leaps into the ratings at some point.
Omaha Skutt will start the Class B football season at No. 1. The Skyhawks are the defending Class B champs and return quarterback Isaiah Ramsey, along with linebacker Thomas Pivovar and rush end Kyle O'Neill.
Gretna comes in at No. 2 and may have another good shot to make a possible playoff run. The Dragons return four starters on offense and five on defense.
Beatrice comes in at No. 3 and will have running back Jessup Workman, who will look to break career records. Offensively, the Orangemen will return five starters on the line.
Just like each year, the rest of the Class B ratings could be interchangeable. McCook, Elkhorn, Crete, York, Aurora, Lincoln Pius X and Elkhorn South are all capable of making runs this season.
Pius X will be a highly competitive district in Class B, after spending the last two seasons in Class A. The Thunderbolts will have to battle with Beatrice, Crete and Norris for supremacy.
In Class A, District 3 is absolutely loaded with powerhouse teams. Bellevue West, Central, Creighton Prep and North will battle to get playoff spots, while South Sioux City and Bellevue East will look to stay afloat.
In Lincoln, the big game of the year will be Aug. 29, as Southeast and Southwest will kickoff at 8pm at Seacrest Field. Average attendance for this game is roughly around 7,000 or more and tends to be the biggest draw each football season.
We'll have the preceding game at 4:30pm with the city's oldest rivals, Northeast and Lincoln High, on LincolnPrepSports.com. Our coverage begins Aug. 28 with Omaha Central and North Star.
Legion Baseball Still Going For Janda
One of LincolnPrepSports.com's free-lance announcers just can't get enough baseball this summer.
Dick Janda, a longtime sportscaster in Lincoln, has redefined the term "road dog." He's spent time calling some Legion games here on this website, then covered the state Legion tourney in Grand Island, followed by the regional in Fargo, ND and now the Legion World Series in Shelby, NC on our little brother website, LincolnMetroSports.com.
Janda and Omaha radio sports announcer Thom Corritore stayed in Grand Island the four days of the state tournament at Ryder Park. Both made the trip to Fargo to cover the Legion teams from Westside and Creighton Prep, with Westside winning the regional. Not even 48 hours after that, Janda made the trip by himself to North Carolina for the American Legion World Series to cover Westside.
Dick Janda (on the right) and Thom Corritore outside of Jack Williams Stadium in Fargo, ND before the Regional Legion Baseball championship with Omaha Westside and St. Cloud, MN. (Courtesy Photo)
That's true dedication, if you ask me. I suppose, I need to find some coupons for free oil changes to give to him when he returns to Lincoln. A lot of miles have been racked up on his car.
Westside's games in the World Series can be heard on little brother site, LincolnMetroSports.com.