Nebraska’s football population last year lost about one player per high school. So the drip continues.
But the latest issue of Sports Illustrated misstates the plumbing problem, or the participation decline, in the past decade in Nebraska and Iowa. Either its researchers slept during college statistics courses or they are clueless that both states have teams playing other versions of football.
The magazine claims that Iowa had 21.3% fewer players last year than in 2008, Nebraska 21.2%. I find that those numbers, found in statistics kept by the National Federation of State High School Associations, are for 11-man only. Counting eight-player in Iowa and eight- and six-man in Nebraska, the correct declines are 18.3% and 16.8%, respectively. SI is off on Nebraska by 21%. Yeech.
SI’s research also painted the 9.5% national decline over the past decade in red and blue, attempting to tie football to “America’s partisan divide.”
The National Federation’s annual report showed that the overall participation rate in sports dropped for the first time in 30 years — by 0.54%. Still a switch in the long-term trend. But basketball was down, too, and that goes beyond a 25,000 drop over two years in Texas girls hoops.
Nebraska had 288 fewer football players last year, when there were 11,748. In 2008, there were 14,124. Iowa’s totals were 21,881 in 2008 and 17,886 last year.
Looking at Nebraska only, sports that added participants last year were boys tennis, wrestling, track and baseball and girls cross country, tennis, wrestling, swimming and track. Decreases beyond football were in boys cross country, basketball, swimming, golf and soccer and girls volleyball, softball, basketball, golf and soccer.
On a whim, I calculated seasonal participation rates for Nebraska. For boys, 31% were in a spring sport, 30% in a fall sport and 23% in a winter sport. Girls rates were 26% for fall, 23% for spring and 14% for winter. Take note, proponents for the NSAA sanctioning bowling as a championship sport. Looks like plenty of kids are sitting idle during the winter.
Beatrice 45, Ralston 14
Thursday’s TV game at Ralston began with Beatrice’s Brody Nelson returning the opening kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown to start a 45-14 victory.
Nelson has a kickoff return touchdown in each of 1-2 Beatrice’s first three games. He also had a 90-yard breakaway, part of a 21-point third quarter for the Orangemen, and led their 364-yard rushing attack with 163.
Kaden Glynn, who transferred to Beatrice soon after helping Johnson-Brock to a football-basketball title sweep, played his first football game for the Orangemen after coming out for the team late and scored twice in the second half.
Rashad Madden, Ralston’s sophomore running back, picked up 152 yards and a touchdown. The Rams had 4 yards at halftime.
Beatrice (1-2)..........17 0 21 7—45
At Ralston (1-2).........0 0 14 0—14
B: Brody Nelson 88 kickoff return (Diego Rodriguez kick)
B: Dakota Adams 39 run (Nelson run)
B: Safety by Adam Erikson
R: Rashad Madden 2 run (Luis Landasure kick)
B: Adams 3 run (Rodriguez kick)
B: Nelson 90 run (Rodriguez kick)
R: Luke Ranck 12 pass from Jahrran Paces (Landasure kick)
B: Kaden Glynn 8 run (Rodriguez kick)
B: Glynn 2 run (Rodriguez kick)
New Rodgers for Roncalli
Omaha Roncalli may have found the speed element All-Nebraska athlete Alex Rodgers gave the Crimson Pride before graduating this year. The newcomer is sophomore brother Darik Rodgers, who averaged 9.3 yards on seven carries and caught three passes in Roncalli’s 42-34 loss to Class B No. 1 Omaha Skutt.
“This was a coming-out game for him,’’ Roncalli coach Tom Kassing said. “We knew that it’s been in him the whole time. So we’re looking forward to the next three years.”
Roncalli quarterback Jack Dotzler has gotten to play with both.
“He came up to me after the game and he’s like, ‘I’m sorry, I messed up one play.’ I was like, ‘There were the other 20 plays that you made. For your first real varsity game you really stepped up and played big time,’ ’’ Dotzler said. “He doesn’t like being compared to his big brother, but he looked a lot like his big brother tonight.”
Strickland shoots Southwest-best 68
LINCOLN — Kate Strickland’s school-record 6-under 68 led short-handed Lincoln Southwest to the Lincoln Classic girls golf title Thursday at Holmes Golf Course.
Southwest was without two of its golfers who helped the Silver Hawks earlier this season shoot a school-record 304 at the Beatrice Invitational, but still won by 10 strokes in the tournament populated by state contenders. Papillion-La Vista was second with 351 and Lincoln Pius X third at 356.
Defending Class A co-champion Kaitlyn Hanna of Omaha Westside and Southwest’s Brynn Sundquist shot 75s to finish seven strokes behind Strickland, the reigning Nebraska women’s match-play champion.
Notes and quotes
Apologies to Fremont for not including it among the teams 2-0 but outside the Class A rankings. The Tigers are off to North Platte (0-2) for Friday’s game, then host Columbus (2-0) next week for the annual F&C Cup game.
Gretna is planning to be back in its renovated stadium for next Friday’s game against No. 3 Omaha Westside. The Dragons are the last team currently in Class A to switch from grass to turf.
Oakland-Craig’s football field has recovered from severe flooding in March. “Actually, it looks really good,’’ Knights coach Joe Anderson said. “Overseeded it this spring, and everything really grew back pretty well. I think we gained some good organic fertilizer as well.” The track will be replaced later during football season.
Grand Island’s renovated Memorial Stadium has chairbacks in on either side of the 50 in the west grandstand. That catches up the Islanders to Elm Creek, which grabbed a chunk of seating from the old Mile High Stadium in Denver.
A reminder to all schools in the state that the daily newspapers (and other media outlets) that cover them would like to receive game reports the same night. Last week, for instance, The World-Herald received only 13 of a possible 40 games from Class A, Class B and the smaller schools in the Omaha area. Let’s keep parents and other readers happy.