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09/30/2018 - From The Press Box: Final Three Weeks Before Playoffs Should Heat Up

From The Press Box

Three weeks remain in the high school football regular season and there are still plenty of games left that could be highly contested before a clear playoff picture is put in place.

The favorite in Class A, Omaha Burke, has Fremont this week then will face Millard North and Papillion-LaVista.  The final two games may seem like they could be easy wins, but I guarantee it won't come without a challenge.

Bellevue West continues to roll along with a perfect record and will wrap up with Omaha South, Omaha North and Omaha Central.  The Thunderbirds' only challenge may come from North, who have struggled this season but maintaining a .500 record heading into Week 7.

Omaha Westside's final three games include a 4-2 Elkhorn South team this week, against 2-4 Columbus next week and an Oct. 18 game at 5-1 Millard South.  The Warriors dismantled a 4-2 Creighton Prep team two weeks ago, 37-2, in what would be the only ranked team that's challenged them this season.

The only other undefeated, Grand Island, will be battle tested the next two weeks.  The Islanders go to 5-1 Millard West this Thursday, then host 5-1 Lincoln Southwest on Oct. 12, both of which will determine playoff seeding.  Lincoln East will be out at GI on Oct. 19.

What about the rest of the Class A Top Ten?

After Grand Island, Millard West will play at Lincoln East on Oct. 12 and wrap up the regular season hosting Lincoln North Star Oct. 19, both of which are winnable games for the Wildcats.

Lincoln High heads to a winless Omaha Benson this Friday, but the next two weeks heat up for the Links.  Kearney will be in town Oct. 12 and the big city game with Lincoln Southwest on Oct. 19 at Seacrest.  LHS must win one of those two games to be eligible for the playoffs and win the district.
Creighton Prep, meanwhile, must beat Elkhorn South and Millard South to solidify a playoff berth. 

Lincoln Southwest needs a win over Kearney this week and Lincoln High in the final week to get a decent playoff spot.  A win over a non-district opponent, Grand Island, could help in the push.

Kearney makes two straight trips to Lincoln, this week against Southwest and next week against Lincoln High, which could be difficult for the Bearcats.

Then there are the ratings contenders.

District 1, which could essentially have three teams qualify for the postseason, has Omaha North, Lincoln Northeast, Lincoln Southeast and Papillion-LaVista South. 

North has wins over Southeast and Papio South, but has Northeast this week and Bellevue East on Oct. 19.  The Vikings need a win over the Rockets to get that third district win to guarantee a playoff spot. 

Northeast, though, needs to win out the next three weeks to clinch a playoff berth.  That means victories are needed over North, Bellevue East and Southeast.

Speaking of the Knights, they would need two wins to clinch a postseason spot.  While they have an out of district game this week (Pius X on Thursday), they need to beat Papio South on Oct. 12 and Northeast on Oct. 19.

Papio South may walk away with a win this week over Bellevue East, but definitely need to beat Southeast on Oct. 12 to keep playing into the playoffs.

Elkhorn South in District 5 has perhaps the tallest task.  The Storm needs two more winds, to clinch a playoff spot in Class A for the first time, two years after winning back to back state titles in Class B.

Elkhorn South on Friday plays at Omaha Westside, then hosts 3-3 Omaha Northwest and 4-2 Creighton Prep. 

The rebuilding process for Lincoln East in District 4 has been somewhat bumpy, but nonetheless the Spartans have still shown signs of improvement. They will host Omaha Bryan Friday afternoon (which you can hear on, then host Millard West on Oct. 12 and head to Grand Island Oct. 19. 

This week's game against Bryan seems to be a lock, but for East to reach the postseason, they would need to shock the world against the Wildcats or Islanders.

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District 2 features undefeated Omaha Skutt, once-beaten Waverly and Ralston has potential playoff bound teams.  Essentially, the winner between Skutt and Waverly this Friday will determine the district champion.

The possible third team going to the playoffs may come down between Ralston and Norris.  Both face each other Oct. 12.  The Rams play at Plattsmouth this week, while the Titans square off against Omaha Gross.

There are 23 teams in Class B, only the top 16 will make the playoffs.  Gering, Beatrice, Plattsmouth, South Sioux City, Schuyler, Gross and Lexington would be the last teams out.


Lincoln Lutheran would be a 14th-seed in the 16-team playoff, if the brackets were picked today. 

The Warriors are off to a 4-2 start and have three games remaining, which include this Friday's game at undefeated Auburn, then host Falls City in the home finale on Oct. 12 before heading to once-beaten Ashland-Greenwood.

Lincoln Lutheran would need to pick up at least a win against either Auburn or Ashland-Greenwood, in addition to defeating Falls City, to gain a higher seed.


Congratulations to Lincoln North Star cross country sophomore Liem Chot for the winning time of 16:02 to win the Lincoln Public Schools boys individual title Friday at Pioneers Park. 

Finishing second was Lincoln Southwest's Trevor Acton and fellow Silver Hawk Tyler Boyle came in fourth to help LSW to the boys team title.  North Star came in second in the team standings.

Lincoln East girls captured the team title, as sophomore Jenna Muma won the girls race.  East teammate Taylor Searcey finished second, while Lincoln Northeast's Hannah Ray came in third.


Friday also marked the first time in nearly 25 years that I had been back to a cross country meet.

I ran cross country as a freshman, sophomore and through the first three meets of my junior year at Northeast, until a lower back injury kept me out.  Didn't run as a senior because of putting on more muscle mass for basketball, but continued to run middle distance on the track team, which started when I was a sophomore.

I was back at Pioneers Park to watch the meet because, the middle school kids participated in the same meet and ran after the high school kids were done.

My son, Jered, participated in cross country at Mickle Middle School and it was his first time experiencing the sport.  While he doesn't have a runner's frame, Jered told me he actually enjoyed the experience and may consider it again next year.  While he wasn't among the upper tier group of runners, he kept his own pace and never walked during any of the meets he ran.

The next step is to improve the pace.

Besides, it's a good sport to get in condition for other sports, such as basketball, swimming and wrestling.  Even baseball players have ran cross country.

Being out amongst the crowd and watching the kids run brought back a flood of memories as a spectator and participant.  Fellow Northeast teammate AJ Hahn and Southeast running sensation Courtney Lamb were always battling to see who was the best distance runner in Lincoln.  Watching those two guys compete was something.

Lincoln has always been well represented at the State Cross Country Meet in Kearney.  Went out to the state meet a few times in high school to cheer on teammates who qualified.  

Always enjoyed those trips, plus competing at meets at Pioneers Park.  Choo Choo Hill is still a bear to run, even though I couldn't do it where even close to being in proper condition.

One thing is for sure, Cross Country is one sport that doesn't get enough credit that it deserves. 

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