Prep football previews: Eight Man-1 No. 4 South Loup

South Loup will need to replace quarterback Jack Rush, who had 3,491 total yards, 67 touchdowns and 55 tackles with 21 passes defended and eight interceptions.

South Loup is coming off its best season in school history, losing in the state championship 36-14 to East Butler.

"It was a tough game," coach Andy Schwarz said. "We made a lot of mistakes, we weren't ourselves, but we had a great season and are in a good position for this upcoming year."

The Bobcats will look to build on last season with 29 returning players from their runner-up season.

Eight Man-1 No. 4 South Loup (12-1)

Coach: Andy Schwarz, 20th season.

Championships: None

Key departures: The Bobcats are losing three of their captains from the 2017 team. Jack Rush, Blake Schwarz and Marshall Still graduated, not only leaving their contributions on the field, but also leadership.

Rush, a four-year starter, all-state player and dual-threat quarterback, had 3,491 yards (1,674 passing and 1,817 rushing), 67 touchdowns (43 rushing and 24 passing), and 55 tackles with 21 passes defended and eight interceptions.

Still was another four-year starter and played on both sides of the ball, earning his spot on the all-state team with his play on the offensive line but added 122 tackles and two sacks as well.

"It's tough to lose all-state players in Jack and Marshall," Schwarz said. "They played on both sides of the ball and started all four years they were here. We will need our younger guys to step up to replace that production."

The last captain to graduate was Blake Schwarz, the coach's son and another two-way player. Blake ran for 592 yards with nine touchdowns and racked up 92 tackles.

"He was another two-way guy," Andy said. "We got to go to Memorial Stadium and we will share the memories of last season forever."

Key returners: Gavin Robertson is the lone returning captain from the 2017 team. He had 62 tackles and three sacks last season. With the two leading rushers gone (Rush and Schwarz), Robertson should see time at running back and continue to be a steady force on defense.

Returning players: RB/DB Tayten Eggleston (Sr.), Logan Peterson (So.), RB/LB Cole Gracey (Sr.), TE/LB Grant Jones (Jr.), Colby Streit (So.), Cooper Atkins (So.), Reagan Ross (So.), Carson Mason (So.), Eli Taylor (So.), Cole Wooters (Jr.), RB/LB Trevor Ross (Sr.), Dalton Kunkee (So.), Drew Vickers (So.), TE/LB Cooper Taylor (Sr.), RB/DB Leighton Bubak, (Sr.), TE/DE Connor Rosfeld (Jr.), QB/LB Jace Connell (Jr.), RB/LB Gavin Robertson (Sr.), TE/DE Blake Brown (Sr.), Sam Cool (So.), RB/LB Dakota Neufeldt (Jr.), G Dawson Hanna-Miles (Jr.), Brett Halstead (So.), OL/DL Dylan Nelson (Jr.), OL/DL Weston Kunkee (Sr.), OL/DL Jarret Buchholz (Sr.), Jesse Connell (So.), OL/DL Spencer Bloomer (Sr.), TE/DE Hunter Weinman (Sr.).

On offense: The Bobcats scored 49.3 points per game last season, including two 60-point games, seven 50-point games and eight 40-point games. There were only three times the Bobcats failed to reach 40 points. and they all came in the playoffs: a 36-22 win over Elm Creek, a 34-14 win over Medicine Valley and their loss to East Butler.

On defense: The defense was stingy in 2017, giving up only 16.4 points per game. The Bobcats gave up less than 20 points eight times, held opponents to single digits four times and had one shutout.

Game to watch: The Bobcats' schedule is favorable but includes games against four 2017 playoff teams, including Arcadia-Loup City. The Rebels made the Class C-2 quarterfinals in 2017 and should be the biggest challenge for the Bobcats and a good test for how their team stacks up for the 2017 season.

2018 schedule (with 2017 record)

x- denotes playoff team; district games in bold

Aug. 24, Sutherland (1-7)

x-Aug. 31, at Hemingford (7-3)

Sept. 7, at Ainsworth (3-5)

x-Sept. 21, Arcadia-Loup City (10-1)

Sept. 28, at Elm Creek (7-3)

Oct. 5, Ansley-Litchfield (2-6)

x-Oct. 12, at Burwell (6-3)

Oct. 19, Amherst (1-7)

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