Irish eyes are smiling with city of O’Neill’s play

Whether it’s O’Neill or O’Neill St. Mary’s, fans in the Irish Capital of Nebraska have plenty to cheer for. This group showed their spirit at state basketball, but the town’s football teams are making noise this fall.

Elkhorn has the top two ranked teams in Class B, Wahoo the top two in Class C-1.

Rivaling them for a strong case of football fever, though, is O’Neill. Because it’s so new for the Irish Capital of Nebraska.

O’Neill is 5-0 and ranked eighth in Class C-1. Catholic school St. Mary’s is 4-0 and seventh in Eight Man-2.

“I’ve been asked this question a lot the last few days — when was the last time both O’Neill teams were undefeated at this point in a season?” wrote O’Neill High history teacher and coach Gary Hostert.

He believed it was 1967, and I agree. O’Neill High went 11-0 by beating Chadron 14-7 in the Rangeland Conference playoff in those pre-state playoff days. St. Mary’s started 4-0, lost to Valentine, then ran off four wins before going undefeated in 1968.

It’s been 14 years since St. Mary’s was the state champion in Eight Man-1. It also was Class C-2 champion in 1984. O’Neill High has gotten to the Class B finals twice, losing to Lincoln Pius X in 1978 and Elkhorn Mount Michael in 1982.

“O’Neill has a very difficult game at Norfolk Catholic this Friday. St. Mary’s will almost certainly beat Elkhorn Valley,” Hostert said. “It looks like both teams will at least be able to say they started the ’16 season at 5-0.”

Prospects for 8-0

As promised last week, here’s the outlook of who can run the table in the regular season in eight- and six-man football.

Eight Man-1 (maximum of five at season’s end): There are six unbeatens — West Point Guardian Angels CC, Neligh-Oakdale, Palmer, Perkins County and, in District 8, Elm Creek and South Loup. Elm Creek visits South Loup on Oct. 21.

GACC, with none of its three remaining opponents above .500, should get to 8-0. Neligh, which is ineligible for the playoffs because of enrollment, has three 2-2 teams left in its final four games. Palmer, which just gave High Plains its first loss, has Nebraska Christian (2-3) and East Butler (2-2) remaining. Perkins County hosts 3-1 Dundy County-Stratton this week and visits 3-2 Sutherland on Oct. 14.

Eight Man-2 (maximum of seven): There are 10 currently — BDS and Falls City Sacred Heart in District 1, Fullerton and Humphrey St. Francis in District 3, Blue Hill and Lawrence-Nelson in District 7, and O’Neill St. Mary’s, Twin Loup, Loomis and Mullen.

BDS (Bruning-Davenport/Shickley) hosts Sacred Heart on Oct. 7. The Eagles also visit Lawrence-Nelson on Oct. 20. Sacred Heart’s other three remaining opponents all have one win.

St. Francis hosts Fullerton on Oct. 21. Both teams still have to play 4-1 Osceola.

Blue Hill visits Lawrence-Nelson on Friday and hosts Giltner (2-3) on Oct. 7. Lawrence-Nelson would have its BDS game to get through.

Loomis has two 3-1 opponents left — at Arapahoe on Friday and home against Wauneta-Palisade on Oct. 14. So does St. Mary’s — at Bloomfield on Oct. 7 and home against Osmond on Oct. 20. Mullen hosts 3-1 Paxton on Oct. 14. Twin Loup visits 3-2 Pleasanton on Friday.

Six Man (maximum of two): There are five currently — Arthur County, Cody-Kilgore, St. Edward, Walthill and Riverside.

St. Edward hosts Walthill on Friday afternoon then visits Riverside on Oct. 7. Riverside visits Walthill the next Friday.

Cody visits Arthur on Oct. 21.

From the notebook

With its 102-21 win over Elkhorn Valley, Bloomfield was the first team since 2014 (Bancroft-Rosalie 106, Allen 70) to top the century mark. The Bees led 60-14 after the first quarter.

Dundy County-Stratton junior Phalen Sanford scored touchdowns five ways a couple weeks ago in a 60-26 win that was the Tigers’ first over Cambridge in 32 years. Sanford had four rushing touchdowns and also scored on a reception, an interception, a kickoff return and a punt return.

Reporter - High school sports

Stu is The World-Herald's lead writer for high school sports and for golf. Follow him on Twitter @stuOWH. Phone: 402-444-1041.

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