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10/25/2015 - From The Press Box: Four Lincoln Teams In Playoffs, Remembering Bill Luxford
 Apparently, losing still helped Lincoln Northeast and Lincoln North Star clinch spots in the upcoming Class A State High School Football Playoff.

The Rockets fell in a 56-53 scoring bonanza at Omaha Burke, while the Navigators fell short in their comeback and lost to Lincoln Southwest 21-13.

The point standings were very close to keeping the two Lincoln teams out, but Fremont's loss to Omaha Westside may have been a factor, too.

Northeast now faces 2nd-seed and undefeated Millard West Friday night at 7:30 at Buell Stadium.  A tall order, yes.  But anything is possible in the playoffs.  Whoever brings the "A" game and gets an early start has a good chance of advancing.

North Star's task may be a little steeper than Northeast's.  The Gators take on a high-powered offense in top-seed and undefeated Bellevue West on Friday.

In Class B, Lincoln Pius X is a No. 10 seed and plays at Grand Island Northwest, a No. 7 seed.  As Tony Chapman from Striv Sports and I talked about on the Chick-Fil-A "Point After" on, the Pius X/Northwest game arguably may be the best first round match up in all classes, period.

For the second straight year, Waverly makes the playoffs in just the second season under head coach Tim Williams.  Yet, for the second straight year, the Vikings first round draw is defending Class B champ Omaha Skutt.

Waverly may be the best pass offense I've seen in Class B all season, but nothing connected when quarterback Dillon Ruelas would throw toward his receivers in the 28-7 loss to Plattsmouth last week.  

Ruelas and his receivers need to be on target against Skutt, who are coming off a blow out over Elkhorn just one week after suffering a 28-23 setback to top ranked Elkhorn South.

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So long, Bill Luxford

In my nearly 20 years in broadcasting, I've had the great fortune of working with and for great people.  Bill Luxford ranks up there as being one of the best.

The longtime coordinator at the city of Lincoln's 5-City TV government access channel passed away Saturday night, after a battle with a rare brain disease called PSP.  

There's nothing but great memories for me when it comes to Bill's professionalism.
Bill Luxford Mug Shot
Bill Luxford

I met Bill when I was a junior at Northeast High School.  At the time, he worked for Behlen Video Productions and they were a VIP (Venture In Partnership) with Northeast.

I was the editor of our monthly TV news program "The Pulse" and associate editor of the Northeast video yearbook.  Bill and fellow employee, Dan Smith, helped us get organized in setting up what needed to be edited for both programs.

Little did I know that about a decade later Bill, who moved on to 5-CityTV, hired me to be the new play-by-play voice of Nebraska Wesleyan football and basketball games on 21 Sports (Educational Access Channel), which is now the Nebraska Wesleyan Sports Network.

Working for him on a professional scale enhanced my style of calling a game on TV.  I owe him everything for helping shape the way I call games to this day on television.  I can recall before my first TV broadcast in 2006 with Nebraska Wesleyan hosting Briar Cliff in a night football game at Abel Stadium being very nervous and not wanting to screw things up.

Bill, in his straight-forward yet laid back persona that night, told me to simply relax, not to worry and just have fun.

Needless to say I got through it, even though it took three or four takes to record the stand up shot for pregame.  I kept flubbing my script that I memorized.

There was one thing that did stick with me about Bill.  

He called me one afternoon my first season to come down and talk about the first two broadcasts.  This was the only time he really got upset with me.  "You need to study up on both teams and their players!", he told me.  That was really the only time he raised his voice at me related to my work ethic.

It was tough for me to do at first.  Excuses galore for me were ranging from focusing too much on my high school football stuff and news reporting at KFOR, plus family time, etc.

However, it was the best thing to happen to me in my tenure with NWU Sports Network.  To this day, those words from Bill in September 2006 keep echoing in my mind every time I get game notes from NWU's sports information director Alex Linden.  I think it's paid off.

That conversation about game preparation will forever linger with me, as long as I'm doing NWU sports and, for that matter, high school sports.

Bill cared about family.  Not just his broadcast family, but wife, Susie, daughter Lyndsey and son Luke.  Bill grew up in Wisner in northeast Nebraska, graduated from Wisner-Pilger High School and went on to attend Wayne State College.

He worked for various TV stations in Pennsylvania and New York before relocating back to Nebraska, settling in Lincoln.  

Bill Luxford served a purpose in life and touched the lives of the countless others who have gone on to be successful in front of or behind the camera.  

He may have been "star-struck" one night. for a few years provided play-by-play audio of high school games that aired on the old Channel 21.  We did a boys district basketball doubleheader at Lincoln East one night in 2007 and I told Bill I was going to have someone help me with both games.

"Who's helping you, tonight?", Bill asked me.  "Jim Kelter," I replied.  "You mean THE Jim Kelter that was on Channel 3?"

"Yep", I said.  

Sure enough, when Jim walked in and sat down next to me to get ready for both games, Bill came over and introduced himself.  Both had conversation in the brief minutes ahead of tip off with Lincoln Northeast and Lincoln Southwest.

Kelter was a popular sportscaster through much of the 1970s at KMTV in Omaha and, apparently, Bill used to watch him.  I suppose Bill was a little "star-struck."

Bill also got to work with Trey Wingo in Pennsylvania before he made the leap to ESPN.

In closing, I'm very grateful to have known Bill Luxford as a broadcaster and person.  Always driven to be perfect, but still pat ya on the back if it wasn't up to par by his standards.  

Thanks Bill.  
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