Eight Man-1 will have a different look this season.
Thanks to a new two-year enrollment cycle, some teams moved down to Eight Man-2, while others came up from Eight Man-2, including last year’s state champion Bruning-Davenport-Shickley. Other schools also will make the transition from 11-man to the eight-man game.
No. 10 Kenesaw (9-1)
Coach: Craig Schnitzler (18th year, 114-55)
Returning starters: QB/DE Taylor Pulver (Sr.), TE/LB Ryan Denkert (Sr.), RB/DE John Schuster (Sr.)
Player to watch: Quarterback Taylor Pulver returns after accounting for 22 touchdowns in his first season as a starter. Pulver had 1,428 yards of total offense last season, including 1,051 yards and 17 touchdowns through the air. He’s also a two-year starter on defense.
“We have high expectations for him ,” Kenesaw coach Craig Schnitzler said.
Key departure: All three starters along the offensive line graduated, so the Blue Devils will be young up front.
“I can’t ask any more of (the young players), they just have to continue to develop on a daily basis,” Schnitzler said. “When we get into the season, without that varsity experience they’re going to need to learn fast.”
No. 9 CWCE (8-3)
Coach: Tom Thramer (eighth year, 49-23)
Returning starters: OL/DL Joshua Klabenes (Jr.), OL/DL Logan Sanford (So.)
Player to watch: On the defensive line, Klabenes recorded 50 tackles. The Renegades graduated nine seniors from a team that reached the final eight of the Eight Man-1 playoffs. His experience will be invaluable for a young CWCE team.
“He was almost unblockable at nose tackle,” CWCE coach Tom Thramer said. “I really think he can make our defense work this year as he will demand double teams all season. He is pretty athletic for as big as he is (6-3, 250).”
Key departure: Daniel Libolt rushed for 1,485 yards and had 24 touchdowns while averaging 135 rushing yards per game. He had nearly twice as many carries as any other CWCE player, and the two returning leading rushers for the Renegades, Wyatt Wagner and Xavier Hobbs, combined for 270 yards in 2017.
No. 8 West Holt (8-2)
Coach: Steve Neptune (ninth year, 48-29)
Returning starters: TE/LB Kooper Jelinek (Sr.), RB/S Jordan Tasler (Sr.), C/DT Joe Seger (Jr.)
Player to watch: Jelinek, who has the ability to play on the line as a tight end or split out as a wide receiver, is one of the few West Holt players with experience. He will be counted on to step up as a leader for Steve Neptune’s squad along with the team’s other seniors.
“They will be counted on to do various leadership roles,” Neptune said. “They’ll have to step up. (Jelinek) is very capable of doing that.”
Key departure: Most of the skill position players on offense graduated, including quarterback Bryce Kerkman, running backs Payton Williams and Mason Hale and wide receiver Shayden Neptune.
“We’ve got some young talent in the freshman and sophomore classes, so they’re going to have to step up,” Neptune said. “We’re going to take our lumps, but here in a year or two, we’ll be pretty good.”
No. 7 Perkins County (8-3)
Coach: Johnathan Hunt (first year)
Returning starters: TE Tanner Burge (Sr.), DL Brandon Knoles (Jr.)
Player to watch: The Plainsmen won two playoff games for just the second time in school history in 2017, and Knoles returns to the defensive line to help build off last season’s success. As a returning starter on a young defense, he will be tasked with leading his teammates in addition to making plays on the defensive line.
Key departure: Quarterback Charles Johnson, who led the Plainsmen into the third round of the state playoffs, graduated and will suit up this fall at Peru State. Johnson was one of six seniors on last season’s Perkins County roster to graduate
In addition, the Plainsmen lost their coach in the offseason for the second year in a row. Lance Steffen took the job at Elmwood-Murdock and Johnathan Hunt was hired as the new head coach. The Perkins County upperclassmen will have their third coach in three years.
No. 6 Nebraska Lutheran (8-2)
Coach: Benjy Wells (ninth year, 28-41)
Returning starters: LB Dillon Malchow (Sr.), LB Sam Otte (Jr.)
Player to watch: Malchow has the second-most tackles of any returning Nebraska Lutheran player (38), and he also is leading returning rusher for the Knights (271).
“We do have a few returning players and they will have to grow into being leaders in a little bit bigger fashion for us this year through their example and play,” Wells said of Malchow, Otte and the other returning Knights. “Some vocal leaders, too, we’ll also have to have some guys grow into those roles a little bit.”
Key departure: Quarterback Kyle Richert had 1,613 yards of total offense and accounted for 31 touchdowns for the Knights in 2017. Ben Riegsecker added 1,093 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns.
No. 5 Medicine Valley (11-1)
Coach: Scott Johnsen (13th year, 68-46)
Returning starters: RB Dylan Davis (Sr.), LB Reid Stout (Sr.), OL/NG Austin Wolfe (Sr.), TE/DE Quade Potter (Jr.)
Player to watch: On offense, Potter caught 11 passes for 243 yards and three touchdowns, while adding 68 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, an interception and fumble recovery on defense for the Raiders.
“We will look to Quade with his returning experience to help provide leadership for the rest of the team,” Medicine Valley coach Scott Johnsen said.
Key departure: The Raiders graduated eight seniors from the team who reached the state semifinals for the first time in school history. Among that group of seniors was running back Landon Lenz, who rushed for 1,903 yards and 35 touchdowns.
“The lack of returning starters will be an obstacle that we will need to overcome but we have several returning players with game experience,” Johnsen said. “Success early in the season will help us get started on the right path.”
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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.