Chad Jepsen has started a chapter of his football coaching career that he had hoped wouldn’t come until late November.
Life after Mick.
Jepsen, the coach of Class B No. 1 Gretna, got official word early last week that Mick Stoltenberg — the program’s first player to receive a scholarship offer from Nebraska — would miss the rest of the season with a knee injury.
After his team’s 26-0 win over South Sioux City on Friday night, Jepsen said Stoltenberg’s loss affects the offense more for the Dragons. At tight end, the 6-foot-5, 265-pound Stoltenberg could set an edge and create space in the run game.
But now through two full games without Stoltenberg, Jepsen hopes the Gretna attack can continue to find ways to get it done.
“Our offense is diverse enough, if we can focus and execute, we’ve got a lot of things we can run,” he said.
Jepsen blamed timing and execution for an offense that he said sputtered most of the night against South Sioux City.
Of the Dragons’ 26 points, 23 came from turnovers. They started on the Cardinals’ side of the field for half of their offensive possessions.
Things won’t be easy going forward for Gretna. Three of the Dragons’ next four matchups are against probable playoff teams.
They travel Friday to No. 6 Crete and have back-to-back weeks against No. 3 Elkhorn South and Elkhorn, the team Gretna overtook for the top spot in the ratings.
“You don’t want to peak this early in the season, I guess,” the always mild-mannered Jepsen said with a tongue-in-cheek smile, “so I don’t think I have to worry about that. Take them one at a time. See what happens.”
Chieftains hit nine-year high
Bellevue East’s 54-19 win at North Platte was the Chieftains’ largest scoring explosion in nine years. Brady Pelzer scored on runs of 5 and 2 yards for the Chieftains and grabbed a Trev Lovell TD pass of 46 yards, all in the second half.
East (2-2) had scoring drives of four, five, one and two plays. The defense chipped in with Malcolm Barrett’s 32-yard interception return for a score.
“We, on a rare occasion, have some pretty big-play players,” East coach Jerry Lovell said. “We’ve passed, we’ve run double wing and in the past have played ball-control offense. We have some kids that can cover a lot of yardage in a hurry if we can get them holes.”
Next for the Chieftains is a game that may decide their playoff fate. They host No. 10 Omaha Central (2-2) on Friday night. Both teams are on two-game winning streaks.
Last year, East lost 34-18 at Central to fall to 2-3, and it ended out of the playoffs at 4-5.
Patriots come to runner’s aid
Emily Mora-Flores and Payton Weaver of Millard South came to the aid of a Lincoln Southwest runner who went down in a somewhat remote area of the course with a seizure during last Thursday’s girls junior varsity race at the Harold Scott Invitational at Pioneers Park in Lincoln.
Wrote Southwest Athletic Director Mark Armstrong to Millard South A.D. Steve Throne: “When our coaches noticed that they had not seen this girl come past them yet, they began to backtrack to see where she was, or if they had just missed her when she ran past. Upon finding the girl, she was being helped by two of your runners who had stopped their race (and did not finish) in order to help our girl. What a tremendous demonstration of character, sportsmanship and caring. You should be very proud of their efforts, as we are grateful for them.”
Ex-Broken Bow coach dies
Mike Buckles, a former basketball and track coach at Broken Bow, died Saturday at 59 of cancer. His funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Tuesday at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Broken Bow.
Buckles, who was still teaching at the high school, grew up in Martin, S.D., and lettered in football four years at Huron (S.D.) College. His coaching career included 222 wins and trips to the Nebraska state basketball tournament with Sidney in 1993 and Broken Bow in 1999. In football, he had 50 wins and took two teams to the Class B semifinals: O’Neill in 1988 and Sidney in 1993. He also coached track for 18 years.
Survivors include his wife, Kim, and sons Jason and Tigh.