Throughout the summer, The World-Herald will prepare you for the high school football season with a story previewing a new team or teams each day. The stories will start with the smallest classes and work up, and are based on last season’s final Top 10 ratings.
This week, Class C-2 is featured, with Nos. 10-5 today.
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En route to their first state semifinal, Lincoln Lutheran handed Arcadia-Loup City their only loss last year, a 21-12 quarterfinal victory.
Arcadia-Loup City’s 10-1 season was a heel-turn from 2016, when they finished 3-6.
Valentine is moving up to Class C-1 after two years in C-2. That presents its own set of challenges, but coach Blake Beebout is optimistic.
"There should be a lot of competition in practice for different varsity spots, and I'm confident the competition will improve our players both individually and collectively as a team," he said.
Fans of Central City, which also moves up to C-1, should mark their calendars for Oct. 19 when they face Aurora, while Hartington Cedar Catholic and Oakland-Craig return experienced teams.
No. 10 Lincoln Lutheran (9-3)
Coach: Greg Nelson, 5th season
Returning starters: OL/NE Noah Steuber (Sr.), OL/DE Tyler Scholz (Sr.), WR/CB Colby Bliss (Sr.), WR/OL Trevor LeGrande (Sr.), WR Collin Morrison (Sr.), OL/DL Zac Streich (Sr.), WR/OL Cayden Bergt (Sr.), LB Dalton Paxton (Jr.)
Player to watch: WR/CB Colby Bliss (Sr.), LB Dalton Paxton (Jr.), WR/OL Cayden Bergt (Sr.)
Colby Bliss is a three-year starter at cornerback and the top returning receiver. Bliss ranked second on the team last year in receiving yards (454), receptions (39) and receiving touchdowns (five), and led the team in total return yards with 274. Nelson calls him “one of the best corners in C-1” and will rely on him heavily this season. Look for Dalton Paxton and Cayden Bergt to make a difference on the back end. Last year they were Lutheran’s top two tacklers.
Key departures: QB Cole Schaedel, WR/FS Logan Kreizel
Lutheran has 10 juniors ready to step into leadership roles, and they’ll need it, for the Warriors will be playing without the one-two punch of Cole Schaedel and Logan Kreizel. Last season, Schaedel set school records for passing yards in a season (2,034) and passing touchdowns in a season (25), led the team in most offensive categories and ranked within the top 15 in the state in passing yards, completions, attempts, interceptions, touchdowns and total yards.
All-class Kreizel was excellent on the receiving end, setting a school record with 1,209 receiving yards to go with 75 receptions and 16 receiving touchdowns. He set additional school records in career receptions with 164 and ranked in the top 50 in the state in total points, total touchdowns and tackle assists.
No. 9 Arcadia-Loup City (10-1)
Coach: Mike Scott
Returning starters: RB/LB Caden Kusek (Jr.), TE/LB Tucker Quinn (Sr.)
Despite playing in just six games last year, Caden Kusek ranked third on the team in rushing yards (344) and rushing touchdowns (five). All-class Tucker Quinn was a stalwart presence in the backfield, leading the division in tackles (130, sixth-most in the state) and leading the team in tackles for loss with 8.5.
Key departures: Last year, Scott said all-class Tige Calleroz was “truly one of the most talented running backs I’ve ever seen.” Calleroz missed nearly a full month with an injury but was dominant in the games he played, leading the team in five offensive categories. He also led the team in interceptions with three and return yardage with 265.
Macrae Maschka set a school record for most passing yards in a season with 1,252. All-class Nolan Baker set a school record for most receiving yards in a season with 949 and led the team in receptions (51) and receiving touchdowns (13).
No. 8 Valentine (8-3)
Coach: Blake Beebout, 5th season
Returning starters: TE/DE Brayden Fowler (Sr.), OL/LB Lane McGinley (Sr.), WR/S Eric Haase (Sr.), QB/LB Jon Keller (Jr.), WR/LB Devon Osnes (Sr.), OL/DL Turner Tinant (Sr.), OL/DL Grant Fischer (Jr.), RB/DB Gage Krolikowski (Jr.)
Players to watch: LB Lane McGinley (Sr.), TE/DE Brayden Fowler (Sr.), WR/OLB Devon Osnes (Sr.)
All-district Lane McGinley stepped forward at linebacker last season, and his 79 tackles were second on the team behind departed all-class senior DJ Stephen.
Beebout touted the hands of both Brayden Fowler and Devon Osnes. Expect Fowler to continue his good work from last year, when he was named all-district receiver and ranked second on the team in receiving touchdowns (5). Osnes has started at outstide linebacker the past three years.
Key departures: Stephen was labeled by Beebout last summer as the “best linebacker I have ever coached.” Stephen was a threat on both sides of the ball, leading the team in five categories last year, including total touchdowns and total tackles. Jordan Kelber also will be missed as he set a school record for career passing yards with 3,578 and threw 19 TD passes.
No. 7 Central City (7-4)
Coach: Troy Huebert, 6th season
Returning starters: WR/DB Koby Brandenburg (Sr.), OL/DL Brule Kearney (Sr.), WR/OLB Dyllan Lee (Sr.), OL/DL A.J. Longoria (Sr.), OL/DL Dillon Kohl (Sr.), WR/DB Jackson Tejeda (Sr.), RB/LB Nik Erickson (Jr.), QB/DB Mike Rutherford (Jr.), WR/LB Christian Coleman (Jr.), WR/LB Charles McGinnis (So.)
Players to watch: OL/DL Brule Kearney (Sr.), WR/DB Koby Brandenburg (Sr.), WR/OLB Dyllan Lee (Sr.), RB/LB Nik Erickson (Jr.)
Despite being slowed by injuries, Brule Kearney has the potential to be one of the top interior linemen in the class, and at 5-foot-11, 270 pounds, he promises to be a physical presence. Koby Brandenburg, a dual-sport athlete in football and wrestling, is a three-year starter in the secondary and last year led the team with 49 solo tackles. He also led the team in interceptions and is slated to take on an expanded role on offense. Receiver Dyllan Lee was a solid two-way player for the Bison last year and is the most athletic player on the team, according to coach Troy Huebert.
Key departures: Huebert is confident in his three young quarterbacks that will be stepping up, but Central City will still be missing several key pieces. Perhaps the most notable is Dale Jones, who accounted for 2,499 total yards. Ethan Deboer was also an impact player, having led the team in receiving yards and touchdowns and ranking fifth in the state in receptions with 61.
No. 6 Hartington Cedar Catholic (8-2)
Coach: Chad Cattau, 17th season
Returning starters: TE/LB Josh Pinkelman (Sr.), QB/DB Myles Thoene (So.), WR/QB/DB Matthew Becker (Sr.), WR/DB Chase Lammers (Jr.), WR/LB Cole Becker (Jr.), RB/LB Jacob Keiser (Jr.), RB/LB Nathan Potts (Jr.), RB/LB Connor Vlach (So.), TE/LB Owen Heimes (So.), FB/LB Eric Hoesing (Jr.), OL/DL Rex Becker (Jr.), OL/DL Josh Heckenlaible (So.), OL/DL Derek Heimes (Sr.), OL/DL Ted Bengston (Jr.), OL/DL Ben Loecker (Jr.), OL/DL Peyton Haahr (Jr.), OL/DL Jacob Rohan (So.)
Players to watch: OL/DL Rex Becker (Jr.), RB/LB Jacob Keiser (Jr.), TE/LB Josh Pinkelman (Sr.)
All-class Rex Becker is currently the eighth-rated player in the state for the 2020 class and last year had 54 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. "Rex is without a doubt one of the most dominant players to come through Cedar Catholic in recent years," coach Chad Cattau said. "The exciting thing for us is that he is just scratching the surface."
Jacob Keiser will look to improve his numbers from last year when it rushed for 1,437 yards and 19 touchdowns. On the line, Josh Pinkelman has been a sure and steady player for the Trojans. Last year he racked up 111 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions, and has the ability to split offensive linemen to get into the backfield.
Key departures: With only three seniors this year and a tough schedule ahead, the younger players are going to have to step up into leadership roles.
Last season, running backs Jackson Eickhoff and Austin Arens were the focal points while the Trojans eased in a new starter at quarterback.
No. 5 Oakland-Craig (8-2)
Coach: Joe Anderson, 9th season
Championships: C-2, 1995
Returning starters: OB/DB Robby Mayberry (Sr.), OL/DL Cole Bures (Sr.), OL/DL Justyn Hale (Sr.), OL/DL Tyson Harney (Sr.), OL/DL Laurence Brands (Jr.), OL/LB John Warner (Sr.), R/DB Garrison Dodge (Sr.), DE/DB Wyatt Uhing (Sr.), LB Daniel Sechler (Sr.), R/DB Jefferson McNeill (Sr.), QB Jared Mulder (Sr.), TE Wyatt Seagren (Jr.), LB Ian Lundquist (Jr.)
Players to watch: OL/DL Laurence Brands (Jr.), TE Wyatt Seagren (Jr.), QB Jared Mulder (Sr.)
Laurence Brands started all 10 games as a sophomore and looks to do the same this year as a junior. Wyatt Seagren is a big target at tight end. Jared Mulder had one start at quarterback last year, and was 9-of-15 for 235 yards and two touchdowns.
Key departures: All-class Garrett Seagren will be a big loss on the receiving end. Last year he set school career record for receiving yards (2,282), receptions (111) and receiving touchdowns (26). Evan Reinert led the team in passing yards with 1,383 and had 16 touchdowns.