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.
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)
1 of 15
Front row, from left: Sam Sims, Grand Island; Dietrick Stolz, Grand Island Central Catholic; James Burks, Omaha Burke; Dylan Sales, Omaha Burke; Shane Dailey, Bellevue West; Jarod Epperson, Omaha Skutt. Second row, from left: D.J. Gross, McCook; Garrett Snodgrass, York; Xavier Watts, Omaha Burke; Jevyon Ducker, Bellevue West; Kohl Herbolsheimer, Millard South; Alex Rodgers, Omaha Roncalli. Third row, from left: Joseph Krause, Seward; Ethan Piper, Norfolk Catholic; Nick Henrich, Omaha Burke; Garrett Nelson, Scottsbluff; Chris Hickman, Omaha Burke. Back row, from left: Zavier Betts, Bellevue West; Mehki Butler, Omaha North; Caden Johnson, Wahoo Neumann; Tyson Gordon, Omaha Skutt; Baylor Scheierman, Aurora; Noah Stafursky, York. Not pictured: Isaiah Alford, Lincoln High
Like the burr oaks at Mahoney State Park that were the backdrop for this photo, the 2017 All-Nebraska football team branched out with players from the Wyoming state line to the Missouri River.
The 2016 All-Nebraska football team "earned their wings" at the Strategic Air Command & Aerospace Museum.
Back row from left: York's Masry Mapieu, Bellevue West's Sylvo Johnson, Lincoln East's Chris Walker, Gretna's Patrick Arnold, Bellevue West's Tyler Ciurej, Omaha Burke's Cole Frahm, Wilber-Clatonia's Riley Homolka, Norfolk's Lane McCallum, Ashland-GW's Brett Kitrell, and Beatrice's Cam Jurgens.
Middle row from left: Kearney's Noah Urbanek, Bellevue West's Jaylin Bradley, Omaha North's Kendrick Parker, Omaha North's Milton Sargbah, Elkhorn South's Moses Bryant, Omaha Skutt's Christian Banker, and Creighton Prep's AJ Hubner.
Front row from left: Wahoo Neumann's Noah Vedral, Omaha North's Zion Williams, Bellevue West's Diego Galvan, McCook's Zach Schlager, Bellevue West's Kevin Ponec, Norris' Austin Schultz, and Millard North's Jack Begley.
The 2015 All-Nebraska football team gathered at Papillion-La Vista High School for the photo shoot.
The 2014 All-Nebraska football team posted on the steps of the Joslyn Art Museum. The cover read: "A Step Ahead: The 24 members of the All-Nebraska football team towered over foes."
Back rows, starting from left: Papillion-La Vista South’s Jeremy Kowalski, No. 75; Seward’s Adam Holtorf, No. 79; Papillion-La Vista South’s Ryan Earith; Kearney’s Brian Arp, No. 55; Elkhorn South’s Brett Stinson; Grand Island’s Kevin Cahoy, No. 12; Omaha Central’s Tre Sanders, No. 6; Omaha Central’s DaiShon Neal, No. 9; Grand Island’s Pierce Almond, No. 2; Blair’s Vance Janssen; Bellevue West’s CJ Johnson; Boone Central/Newman Grove’s Wyatt Mazour; Omaha Central’s Xavier Graham, No. 64; Creighton Prep’s Jeremiah Stovall; and Creighton Prep’s Jack McLeay, No. 54. Front rows, starting from left: Omaha North’s Cole Bixler, No. 34; Omaha North’s Michael Decker, No. 78; Omaha North’s Calvin Strong, No. 5; Omaha North’s Jason Martin; Grand Island Central Catholic’s Youhanna Ghaifan; Millard North’s Adrrell Taylor, No. 27; Omaha North’s Marquise Lewis, No. 1; McCook’s Bryce Lyons, No. 21; and Omaha North’s Markell Vaughn, No. 22.
In 2013, the All-Nebraska football and volleyball teams came together for a photo shoot, and the cover was designed to look like a Facebook page with the teams taking one big selfie.
The 2012 All-Nebraska football team made a splash in the shark tunnel of the Scott Aquarium at the Henry Doorly Zoo.
Standing, from left: Luke McNitt, Kearney; DJ Foster, Lincoln Southeast; Josh Banderas, Lincoln Southwest; Nick DeLuca, Millard North; Harrison Phillips, Millard West; Mike Milenkovich, Millard North; Bryce Sosnowski, Millard South; Nathan Bazata, Howells-Dodge; Casey Sayles, Omaha North.
Middle row: Christian LaCouture, Lincoln Southwest; Jordan Bellar, Norfolk Catholic; Clay Fisher Millard North; Isaac Aakre, Millard North; Matt Kraft, Millard South; Alec Ditoro, Papillion-La Vista; Jake Schlager, McCook; Lee Carhart, Creighton Prep; Freeman Coleman, Millard South.
Front row: Andy Bayne, Millard North; Trey Carr, Omaha Burke; Calvin Strong, Omaha North; Skyler Monaghan, Millard West; Devin Washington, Lincoln Southeast; RJ Urzendowski, Creighton Prep.
With the Omaha skyline in the background, the 2011 All-Nebraska football team was "Standing Tall" at Pioneer Courage Park not far from the Omaha World-Herald building.
Bottom Row (from left): Tay Bender, RB, Lincoln Southwest; Isaac Aakre, RB, Millard North; Landon Arnold, OL, Millard North; Andrew Coppa, DL, Omaha Burke; Trey Foster, DL, Lincoln Southeast; Bo Liekhus, DB, Bellevue West.
Middle Row (from left): Darian Barrientos-Jackson, DB, Omaha Central; James Anderson, OL, Omaha Burke; Andy Janovich, LB, Gretna; Drew Farlee, K, Norfolk Catholic; Mike Minter Jr., DB, Lincoln North Star; Sam Cotton, DL, Lincoln Southeast; Devin Washington, RB, Lincoln Southeast; Sam Foltz, DB, Grand Island; Jeremy Callahan, P, Lexington; Robbie Lafour, OL, Lincoln Southeast; Jake Schany, LB, Blair; Jordan Nelson, RB, Omaha Burke; Ryker Fyfe, QB, Grand Island.
Top Row (from left): Jordan Brichacek, OL, Howells; Zach Oliver, WR, Omaha Burke; Terry Grigsby, DB, Omaha North; Drew Ott, LB, Giltner; Mike Shoff, OL, Cambridge.
All-Nebraska football captains Jimmie Forsythe of Omaha Burke and Tyson Broekemeier of Aurora were the focus in 2010 during this shoot at Turner Park at Midtown Crossing.
The 2009 All-Nebraska football hopped aboard this old streetcar at the Durham Museum.
There was "nothing pedestrian" about the 2008 All-Nebraska football team, which posed in front of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.
Back row, from left, Tyrone Sellers of McCook, Corey Serrano of North Platte, Nathan Zook of Grand Island, Eric Koehlmoos of Pierce, Tyler Daake of Norfolk Catholic, Tyler Niederklein of Millard West, Charles Viers of Millard West, Josh Kage of Papillion-LaóVista, Jake Herweyer of Millard West, Cole Pensick of Lincoln Northeast, Jordan Hale of Millard South, Andrew Rodriguez of Aurora, James Davis of Omaha North, Jon Lechner of Prep, Scott Criss of Omaha Creighton Prep and C.J. Zimmerer of Omaha Gross. Front row, Matt Berry of McCook, Braden Taylor of Grand Island, Vinny Molina of Kearney, Kohlman Adema-Schulte of Millard West, Bryant Giles of Omaha North, Michael Burrus of Papillion-LaóVista South, Ronald Coleman of North, Tyler Seals of Bellevue West and Greg Hardin of Bellevue West.
For the 2007 All-Nebraska football team, The World-Herald chose individual shots for the cover instead of the group photo, and the result was "Picture Perfect."
No challenge was too steep for the "Rock Solid" 2006 All-Nebraska football team, who posed in front of a climbing wall at Dick's Sporting Goods.
The 2005 All-Nebraska football team wore letterman jackets for the photo shoot instead of their jerseys.
Top, from left, Millard North's Corey Young, Lincoln Southwest's Ian Dike, Millard North's Adam Nelson, Bellevue West's Silas Fluellen, Omaha Central's D.J. Jones (back row), Millard North's Jeff Tarpinian, Kearney's Tony Green, Lincoln Southwest's Ben Martin, Bellevue West's Jeff Martin, Lincoln Southwest's Ollie Sloup, Papillion-LaVista's Kyle Dooley and McCook's Josh Cherry.
Bottom, from left, Omaha Benson's Anthony Williams, Kearney's Joey Rousseau, Lincoln Southwest's Andy Cotton, Omaha Burke's Ricky Henry, Omaha South's Philip Barrientos, Creighton Prep's Mark Waring, Omaha Burke's Alex Henery, Millard West's Brandon Pete, Omaha Burke's Travis Liechti, Millard North's Paul Homer, Omaha North's Aaron Terry and Millard West's Matt Leaders.
Nothing says football like rows of poinsettias. Those were the accents that went with this photo shoot for the 2004 All-Nebraska football team.