Just like last year, District 2 is going to be the race to watch in Class A.
Will all five teams again qualify for the state playoffs? Four of the five are included in this week's Top 10 — No. 1 Omaha North, No. 4 Omaha Burke, No. 6 Bellevue West and No. 8 Millard North. The fifth is Papillion-La Vista.
Omaha North and Bellevue West are undefeated. Burke and Papio have one loss apiece and Millard North, saddled with the most rigorous regular-season schedule in Class A, is 1-3. No wonder coaches agree with new Bellevue West coach Mike Huffman's assessment that District 2 “is the SEC of Nebraska district football.”
District play in Class A begins Friday. In each of the five Class A districts, the champion and runner-up advance to the playoffs. The remaining six berths in the 16-team field go to the highest remaining teams in the wild-card standings.
Because District 2 and District 3 have five teams apiece while Districts 1, 4 and 5 have six, District 2 has a team play a District 3 opponent every week the rest of the season. The two games that will have the most impact are Omaha Westside-Millard North on Oct. 17 and Papio-Millard South on Oct. 25.
If all five from District 2 make it to state, that would leave three wild-card berths for the other four districts.
A look at those districts:
District 1: Three teams are ranked — No. 3 Omaha Creighton Prep, No. 5 Millard West and No. 9 Omaha Central. Prep-Millard West is on Oct. 10. Also in the district are Bellevue East, Omaha Northwest and Omaha Bryan.
District 3: It has two ranked teams, No. 2 Westside and No. 10 Millard South. They meet in another week. Papillion-La Vista South probably needs to beat Omaha North this week or steal a win from the two district favorites to be in the playoff mix. Omaha Benson and Omaha South also are in the district.
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District 4: Grand Island, unranked at 3-1, has the only winning record. Also in the district are Lincoln North Star (2-2), Kearney, Fremont, Lincoln High and North Platte.
District 5: No. 7 Lincoln Southeast is the only ranked team. Three teams are 3-1: Norfolk, Lincoln East and Lincoln Pius X. Lincoln Southwest and Lincoln Northeast also are in the district. Southeast appears to be the front-runner, with a scramble likely for the runner-up berth.
Incidentally, Class A changes its district structure in 2014 to four seven-team districts with the top three in each one qualifying for state along with four wild cards.
Top 10 changes
Only minor shuffling was needed after last week with all 10 teams remaining in the rankings, even Millard North and Millard South at 1-3.
Undefeated going into last Thursday, Norfolk lost at home to Grand Island and Pius X fell to North Star. Grand Island and Papillion-La Vista rate as the two top contenders.
Class B: Elkhorn, atop the ratings two weeks ago, drops out after its second straight loss. Plattsmouth inaugurated its new artificial-turf field with a 21-20 victory in overtime. Only four teams remain undefeated: No. 1 Gretna, No. 2 Aurora, No. 3 Elkhorn South and No. 5 Ralston.
Class C-1: Undefeated teams are No. 1 Boone Central/Newman Grove, No. 3 Wahoo, No. 4 Kearney Catholic, No. 6 Lincoln Christian, No. 8 Cozad, No. 9 Syracuse and unranked Ashland-Greenwood. Wayne stays in at No. 10, ahead of Ashland, after giving No. 5 Columbus Lakeview a tussle in a 20-14 home loss.
Class C-2: Undefeateds are No. 1 Doniphan-Trumbull, No. 2 Sutton, No. 3 Norfolk Lutheran, No. 4 Crofton, No. 7 North Platte St. Patrick's, No. 8 West Holt, No. 9 Hartington Cedar Catholic and unranked Omaha Brownell-Talbot, Hershey and Battle Creek. New No. 10 Blue Hill bumped out previous No. 8 Hastings St. Cecilia with a 30-14 win. Blue Hill's loss was to Doniphan.
Eight Man: Eight Man-1 has the most undefeated teams with 16. Eight Man-2 has 11. Twin Loup moves to No. 10 in Eight Man-1, replacing Nebraska City Lourdes, which lost 40-28 to East Butler. Amherst and Hitchcock County are new to the Eight Man-2 ratings, replacing Bancroft-Rosalie and Elwood.
Six Man: The last unbeatens, excluding games against teams classified as junior varsity, are No. 1 Silver Lake, No. 2 Sioux County and No. 3 Cody-Kilgore.