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08/13/2018 - From The Press Box: Football Season Arrives With Expectations High For Two Area Teams

 From The Press Box

First there was no spring, just winter to summer.  

Then spring arrived in the form of below normal temperatures in late July, but returned to summer-like just in time for August and the start of the fall practice session for high school athletics in Nebraska.

Although, the temperatures are not hovering around the triple-digit mark, it's still hot and the action on the football fields across the state are expected to be that way once games get started Aug. 23 and 24.

Locally, Lincoln High seems to be the favorite to win the city race and make a potential run in Class A.  Though the mountain may be a steep climb for the Links.  Defending state champ Omaha North, plus Omaha Burke, Millard West and Millard South lay ahead if Lincoln High looks to "shock the world" this year.

Don't get me wrong.  I like how Lincoln High has turned what was for a long time a "doormat" in Class A into a power player in the playoff picture.

Still, the Links need to clear the first hurdle, which they've been stuck at in the last three playoff appearances they made (2004, 2016 and 2017).  Lincoln High hasn't been past the first round since their 1992 run to the Class A final, which saw them drop a 17-0 decision before 11,000 fans at Seacrest Field.

Difference makers, such as Cedric Case, Darius Luff, Morgan Perry, CJ Jones, John Goodwin, Jaden Horton and Garrett Hoagland, need to bring their "A" game every Friday night, if the Links look to bring home the first Class A football championship at the school in 50 years and first Lincoln team to do it in seven seasons.

They've built the foundation.  Now let's see if Lincoln High can carry on the task of further building its football program into one of the best Nebraska has to offer.

Lincoln Southwest, meanwhile, won't be no slouch either.  

Although with a couple of losses at some skill positions, the Silver Hawks seem to reload with experience.  At quarterback, Brady Bickford may be stepping into some big shoes left behind by Jakob Ahlschwede, who graduated.

The backfield is loaded with Taylor Boutmahavong (fullback) and Frazzie Wynn (a running back and transfer from Lincoln High).  

Nick Lenners will help at tight end, as a possible target in the receiving core.  

Defensively, Southwest is loaded in the linebacking core (Easton Boyd, Caden McCormack, Boutmahavong and Alex McIntire).  In the secondary, TaeVyn Grixby will provide additional help in coverage.  

Over at Lincoln Southeast, Jampe Gergen will be the signal caller in his third year as a varsity quarterback.  Grant Detlefsen's size as a 6-3, 215 pound fullback may be problematic for opponents, if the Knights utilize the ground game.  Gergen may also look for help from his receivers, Isaac Appleget and Brehan Lambert.  Gage Johnson could offer help in the passing game at tight end.

Defensively, Southeast appears to be stacked with kids that have contributed the last couple of seasons.  Team chemistry will be important for the Knights, who have one of the tougher schedules in Class A.

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How does Lincoln Pius X fit into the picture in the city football race?  For that matter, what about Class A?

The Thunderbolts have been one of the more gutty teams in the state, a small Class A school that's proven it can compete with the big dogs.

Pius X returns dual threat quarterback Austin Jablonski and wide-receiver Joe Dworak on offense, while nose tackle Michael Cisneros and fellow defensive lineman Braiden Oliva bring back experience to the defensive line.  Don't discount the Thunderbolts yet.  Look at it this way, they have made the playoffs the past two seasons under head coach Ryan Kearney.

Lincoln East could be a surprise this year.  Battling through injuries last season, the Spartans return experience at the skill positions and on defense.  Braden Sellon and Blake Ingamells are returning all-city selections, while Devin Beckner is back at quarterback. 

However, East could utilize the talents of quarterback Zach Clausen, who transferred from Lincoln Lutheran.  The 6-6 senior threw for over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdowns as a freshman and sophomore at Lutheran, before he missed much of last season with a broken foot and still played in the C2 playoffs.

Lincoln Northeast, which has undergone another coaching change, will likely be the mystery team this season.

Will the Rockets adapt immediately to the new system under first-year head coach Shane Zimmerman?  His coaching resume is impressive.  Spent 19 years in the high school coaching ranks in Colorado, where 10 of his teams made the playoffs.  

A Chadron State grad and former football player, Zimmerman spent last season as an assistant coach at Western State University in Colorado. 

Northeast, though, has experienced players back this season.  Quarterback Shadon Shannon is slated to be the starter, while Nick Halleen will be the running back.  All-city selection Jakobi Rose is back at wide-receiver.   

Defensively, the Rockets may rely on senior linebacker Caleb Kyes and defensive back Quinn Keller for leadership.  Despite experience being back for Northeast, they are still pretty young squad.  

The other coaching change in Lincoln happened at North Star, with Tony Kobza returning to where he once was an assistant coach for Mark Waller.

With Waller stepping aside and Kobza now the new head coach, the Navigators look like they could have a promising season.  Like Northeast, North Star must be able to adapt to the new system to find immediate success.

The Navigators are athletic and have decent size up front.  Veterans like Luke Reimer, Gavin Leitschuck, Easton Waller, Blaine Houlden and Tariq Scott are expected to be key leaders of this group.

Lincoln Lutheran will adjust to life without Zach Clausen (who transferred to East) and Cole Schaedel and Logan Kreizel (both graduated).  There will be a new quarterback and James Admiraal is expected to be in contention to take over that spot.

Wide-receivers Colby Bliss and Collin Morrison were solid contributors for the Warriors last season in their Class C2 playoff run and will pick up the slack left by Kreizel, who had over 1,200 yards in receptions with 16 touchdowns.  

Across town, Lincoln Christian could be scrappy.  The Crusaders have Joe Dworak and Hunter Hohlen are among the returners that have solid experience for head coach Kurt Earl.  The key will be finding a starting quarterback filling the void left by Treyson Bigler, who graduated in the spring.

Finally, in the D2 eight-man ranks, Parkview Christian has athleticism and speed with this year's group. 

However, the Patriots will need to fill spots on the offensive line, due to graduation.  Matthew Case and Rashad Woods are back sharing time at running back, while Alex Morey is expected to be the starting quarterback.

Previews of Waverly, Norris, Raymond Central and Malcolm can also be found in our high school football previews.  Go back to the main page and click on links to each team.

Our coverage of the 2018 football season starts on Aug. 24, as Northeast hosts Fremont at Beechner Field.  Remember to follow us on Twitter @LNKPrepSports and catch the live feed on your phone or tablet through Mixlr.


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