It was here and suddenly, like gypsies in the night, the fall sports season is gone.
Full of excitement, only to come up short in some state bids for a few teams.
Lincoln Lutheran finished the football season this past Friday night with a 33-20 loss to Centennial in the Class C2 semifinals and capped their best season to date at 9-3. The Warriors shined as they have continued to grow under head coach Greg Nelson.
Losing key players Cole Schaedel, Logan Kreizel and Josh Wentlend due to graduation may hurt a little, but some experience is back at quarterback/running back with 6-6 Zach Clausen.
I say quarterback/running back because he started the year as the returning quarterback, then was sidelined the rest of the regular season with a broken foot. He got clearance and was able to come back and play in the quarterfinals and semifinals in a running back role.
Schaedel had switched from running back to quarterback, after Clausen's foot injury at the end of their loss to Lincoln Christian. When Clausen was cleared to come back, Nelson didn't want to spoil the chemistry with Schaedel at quarterback and put in the junior at tailback.....perhaps the tallest one in the state of Nebraska.
Regardless, Lutheran competed and had the best playoff run of any Lincoln team that qualified.
Lincoln High, which a lot of folks (myself included) felt would go far in Class A, suffered a disappointing 21-19 loss to Millard South in the first round of the playoffs.
Yes, it was disappointing on how it ended for the Links but it should be even more of a motivation factor for next season.
Cedric Case is back at quarterback, Frazzie Wynn at running back, Morgan Perry as a running back/wide-receiver, Ethan Bruha at middle linebacker, Jaden Horton as another wideout, full safety Darius Luff and John Goodwin at tailback or receiver among others for the Links, who may be a favorite again for the city championship.
Pius X had a good run in 2017 on the gridiron. The Thunderbolts proved how they can compete with Class A teams, after many years of being a dominant force in Class B.
Austin Jablonski returns as the starting quarterback, but Pius X may have to some rebuilding at the offensive and defensive skill positions for 2018.
Southwest entered the playoffs and suffered a 41-21 loss to Bellevue West in the first round. Like Pius X, the Silver Hawks will lose quite a bit of experience at the skill positions. Running backs Caden McMormack and Taylor Boutmahavong, wide-receiver Easton Boyd, tight end Nick Leader and kicker Dylan Jorgensen are among the juniors expected to be back next year. Sophomore Drake Sherman gained valuable experience on the line.
Lincoln Christian was a playoff team in 2017, taking an early exit in the first round of C1 to Boys Town. The Crusaders made progress through the season but are hopeful to replace key losses in graduation from Treyson Bigler, Reid Houchin and Alex Schreiner. Joe Dworak will be back next season in the Crusader backfield.
In the eight-man ranks of Class D2, Parkview Christian had a good enough season to qualify for the post-season. The Patriots, though, were handed a first round loss from Falls City Sacred Heart.
Alex Morey, Rashad Woods, Romeo King, Logan Page and Zach Stoll are among the returners for Parkview next season.
Waverly made a return to the Class B playoffs, only to fall in the first round to McCook. Both teams had not faced each other in football since their last encounter when Waverly won the 1980 Class B championship.
Rhett Jordon may be a quarterback you hear more about next season that could be an impact player in Class B. The junior led the Vikings in all purpose yards and will get help from running back Kaleb Canoyer, tight end Alex Murray, fullback Hunter Lee, and wide receiver Jay Adams. Waverly could be a team to keep an eye on in Class B.
LSW Boys/East Girls Finish Strong In Cross Country
My hat goes off to the Lincoln Southwest boys and Lincoln East girls cross country teams, who battled at the state meet and finished runners-up.
Luke and Jack Nolley, along with Masen Louviere all finished in the top 20 on the boys side for the Silver Hawks. East's Abigail Schmidt finished second and freshman Jenna Muma was third. The Spartans also saw Abigail Volkmer (15th), Olivia Smith (19th) and Taylor Searcey (28th) all helping in the team scoring.
Cross Country is a sport that may be the most enduring of fall competition. Running it three years myself at Northeast, I can tell you first hand it's just as tough as to compete when you are going up against some of the fast-paced runners in the city and state.
VOLLEYBALL SENDS FIVE AREA TEAMS TO STATE
Lincoln had four city schools in the State Volleyball Tournament, while Malcolm was the other Lincoln metro area school to compete.
Of the five, Lincoln Lutheran lasted the longest but fell 3-1 to Grand Island Central Catholic in the C1 semifinals.
The favorite in the city, Southwest, lost 3-1 in the final game of the Class A opening round to eventual runner-up Millard North. Southeast was swept state champ Omaha Marian and Pius X fell 3-2 to Papillion-LaVista South, in what may have been the most competitive match in the tournament.
Malcolm, with Creighton signee Jaela Zimmerman, saw their time at state short-lived, falling to North Bend Central in the Class C1 opening round.
Still, the number of area teams competing at state showed that volleyball is still very much alive in Lincoln---like in years past.
SOUTHWEST DOMINATES BOYS TENNIS
Lincoln Southwest captured gold at the NSAA Boys State Tennis meet in Omaha last month, by winning the Class A team title. Will Gleason, who just signed to play tennis at Nebraska, won the Class A No. 1 singles championship.
Southeast boys finished third in the team standings, while East came in fifth, Lincoln High seventh and North Star tied for ninth.
SOFTBALL WAS EXCITING IN LINCOLN
It's nice to see that softball is still one of the stronger fall sports you'll find in Lincoln at the high school level.
Southwest, no stranger to state championship success, finished runner-up to Class A champ Papillion-LaVista. Pius X and North Star each made it to state and had great seasons. East was just short of qualifying for state, after getting beat in the district championship.
Carson Fischer of Southwest (who just signed to play at Nebraska), along with teammates Caelyn Christiancy (a South Dakota State commit) and Emma Kauf received first-team All-State recognition.
Others receiving All-State honors include pitcher Amelia Jarecke (committed to play at Maryland), Kelsey Goodband, Josie Baxter and Carlee Liesch from Pius X, Rachel Weber and Ellie Bliemeister from East, Carley Dembowski from North Star and Abbie Squier, Amber Storer and Britny Davis of Southwest.
SOUTHWEST ALSO WITH IMPRESSIVE SHOWING IN GIRLS GOLF
Overall, Lincoln Southwest's athletic program showed great balance in competition in all fall sports, including girls golf.
The Silver Hawks were runner-up in the Class A team standings, while Brynn Sundquist finished 6th individually.
In Class C, Lincoln Christian finished third in the team standings. Taylor Van Ostrand finished ninth, while teammate Chloe Dvorak came in 13th.
Congrats to all of the participants in the fall sports season!
BASKETBALL LOOMS AHEAD
Coming up in the next few weeks, we will be previewing Lincoln area boys and girls basketball teams on LincolnPrepSports.com.
It could be a year where the East boys finally get over the "hump" in Class A and qualify for State. Can the Southwest and Lincoln Christian girls both repeat as state champions? Will Northeast make a run into the State Tourney again?
We'll find out, as the season begins Nov. 30th. Coverage on LincolnPrepSports.com starts with a girls/boys doubleheader with Omaha Westside at Lincoln Northeast.