Take the four best games Friday night in the Metro Conference and see in a month whether they were better matchups than those in the Class A quarterfinals.
Getting top billing will be No. 1 Omaha North’s grudge game against No. 4 Omaha Burke. There are three more games matching rated teams — No. 2 Omaha Westside at No. 10 Millard South, No. 5 Millard West at No. 6 Omaha Central and No. 9 Millard North at No. 7 Papillion-La Vista.
Only No. 3 Omaha Creighton Prep (at Omaha Bryan) and No. 8 Bellevue West (hosting Omaha South) aren’t involved in top-tier games.
If you haven’t noticed, the aforementioned ranked teams comprise the new Top 10. It’s believed to be the first week since the newspaper’s weekly ratings began in 1941 that the overall Top 10 has no teams from outside the Omaha area. More on the reasons later.
First, North-Burke. The undefeated Vikings haven’t beaten Burke since 2007. A look at the six games since then:
» 2008 — North’s only loss of the regular season was 26-7 at Burke, also in the sixth game of the season.
» 2009 — Vikings fall 33-7 to the Bulldogs, the worst of the six losses.
» 2010 — In the regular season, North went for the win by going for two in overtime but got stopped. Burke won that game 28-27 and followed in the playoffs with a 42-6 win.
» 2011 — A North team that finished 3-6 led the then-No. 1 Bulldogs twice in the first half, but fell 49-35.
» 2012 — The Vikings kept Burke out of the end zone, but a state record-tying five field goals from Hayden Guy lifted the Bulldogs to a 15-14 win.
This year, Burke will try to knock off No. 1 for the second time this season. The Bulldogs’ four-game winning streak includes a 23-21 win Sept. 13 over then-No. 1 Millard West.
Their only loss was 25-7 to Prep in the season opener. Since then, they have beaten Central, Millard West, unranked Lincoln Northeast and Millard North.
Omaha North will be playing its first ranked opponent. Its best win of the season is 42-10 over Lincoln Southwest, which regrouped last week to stun city rival Lincoln Southeast 13-10 in overtime.
Burke’s defense will be loaded to stop Viking junior running back Calvin Strong, who had a season-high 303 yards (in three quarters) in a 46-16 win last week over Papillion-La Vista South. Strong went past the 1,000-yard mark in the first quarter against the Titans and has 1,232 yards in five games. The only Class A rusher to get to 1,000 in four games in the past 25 years is Calvin Jones of Central in 1989.
As for the other showdowns:
» Westside-Millard South. This appears to be the de facto District 3 championship game. Westside won 42-25 last year when the Patriots were ranked No. 2.
» Millard West-Central. The Wildcats escaped last year with a 32-27 home win after leading by 19 with eight minutes left.
» Millard North-Papio. Alec Ditoro riddled the Mustangs last year for a Class A-record 482 yards and his second six-TD game of the season, yet the Monarchs lost to the eventual state champions 49-42.
All-Metro Top 10: Southeast had been the only non-Metro team ranked last week, and couldn’t keep its spot with an overtime loss.
There are three 4-1 teams unranked — Grand Island, Norfolk and Lincoln East. But I don’t think any of the three at this point could beat either Millard North or Millard South despite the latter two teams’ losing records.
Those three, along with Southeast (2-3), Southwest (2-3)and Lincoln North Star (3-2), remain on the radar but would need a rated team or two to falter. Southeast plays Norfolk this week and Lincoln East next week. Grand Island meets North Star on Oct. 10.
Papio’s 31-21 win at previously undefeated Bellevue West returns the Monarchs to the ratings after their opening loss to Papio South. Central’s No. 6 ranking is its highest of the season.
Other classes: No changes were needed at the top. No. 1 teams are Gretna, a 31-0 winner over Crete, in Class B; Boone-Central/Newman Grove in Class C-1; Doniphan-Trumbull, with a potential showdown next week against No. 2 Sutton, in Class C-2; Exeter-Milligan in Eight Man-1, Falls City Sacred Heart in Eight Man-2; and Silver Lake in Six Man.
Hard to believe: When all three Millard teams lost in the same week — on a Friday the 13th, no less — I got a text from Nolan Beyer of the Millard Public Schools asking when was the last time it happened.
Extensive research hasn’t turned up another instance, even when Millard West was 0-9 in its 1995 debut season. Millard North was undefeated in the regular season that year. To not have an 0-for weekend for more than 18 years is testament to the stability and success of those three programs.