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10/16/2016 - From The Press Box: East and Lincoln High Peaking At The Right Time, The Clippers Reign Supreme

 Remember the story of the Little Engine That Could?

We know that all of the larger train engines didn't want to haul a long rail of cars up a high mountain and the Little Engine took on the task, saying "I think I can."

Lincoln East may be the Little Engine in the high school football landscape in Nebraska, trying to get up that tall mountain in Class A.  But the Spartans are saying "we know we can."

Confidence is oozing out of the East football program.  Head Coach John Gingery has to be feeling really good about how East was able to hold on for a 14-6 win over Lincoln Pius X to get them one step closer to a playoff berth.  A win over Bellevue East Friday night will make them a lock.

Even though they have dealt with their share of injuries and minor setbacks, this Spartan football team is dangerous.

The same can be said for Lincoln High.

I've mentioned in this column that the Links are a team not to take lightly.  They've won five straight games and with all sorts of momentum, go into Friday night's game at Millard West with a chip on their shoulder.

Regardless, Lincoln High is still playoff bound.  It's been a long and winding road for head coach Mark Macke.  He brought his football knowledge and what he learned as a longtime assistant for the legendary Tom Jaworski at Omaha Creighton Prep to a Links football program and started from scratch.

A post-season appearance is the first hurdle for Lincoln High.  The bar will be set higher the next two years.  

Pius X could have clinched a playoff bid with a win last Friday over East.  They absolutely have to win at Omaha North on Friday to be able to clinch a lower seed.  What turned out to be a promising start to the season now lies in doubt of continuing past this next weekend.

The Thunderbolts have been hit with injuries the last few weeks and their opponents (Lincoln Southeast, Grand Island and East) have played their best brand of football.  
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Only in its third year and first trip to State, the Malcolm high school softball team pulled off what some may have considered the unthinkable.....winning a state convincing fashion.

The Clippers never dropped into the loser's bracket of the Class C tournament at Hastings and won 9-0 in 5 innings over top-seed Cozad to claim gold.  The Creighton Bluejays will get a good shortstop in Courtney Sandell next season.  

It's amazing that Malcolm has jumped into the forefront of high school softball in our area.  Any kids that lived in Malcolm or just outside of town and wanted to play softball either opted into the Seward, Raymond Central or Lincoln school districts, or they simply didn't play and competed in other sports.

Softball in the Lincoln area will be competitive again next year.  East and Southwest will be considered prospects in Class A, Pius X will be another contender in Class B.  Malcolm and Raymond Central will be at the top of Class C, for sure.

However, it's a time to celebrate!  Congrats to the Clippers and all of the area teams who made it to state in 2016!


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