Prep football previews: Eight Man-2 Nos. 10-5

Mullen running back Lane Edis should have another heavy workload in his senior season. He eclipsed 2,300 all-purpose yards in 2017,

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, Eight Man-2 is featured, with Nos. 10-5 today.

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No. 10 Fullerton (8-2)

The Fullerton Warriors ran into a recurring problem for Eight Man-2 teams during the 2017 season — the Bruning/Davenport Shickley Eagles. The Warriors’ second-round exit to the eventual champions came in a 50-16 loss.

Fullerton coach Ryan Haughton looks to make the playoffs for the eighth straight season and hopes to continue building his program.

“I hope that our previous success carries over,” Haughton said. “We are a proud program with a lot of tradition that looks to win with tradition as opposed to winning on talent.”

Coach: Ryan Haughton, 14th season

Record: 75-55

Championships: None

Returning players: RB/CB Connor Sonderup (Jr.), WR/CB Kyle Knopik (Jr.), QB/OLB TJ Dubas (Sr.), QB Hunter Haughton (So.), CB Chris Sensenig (So.), RB/OLB James Lesiak (Sr.), TE/DE Isaac Gleason (Jr.), QB/CB Isaak Norman (So.), FB James Wetovick (Jr.), TE/CB Elijah Norman (Sr.), FB/OLB John Wetovick (Jr.), TE Trey Dodds (So.), G/DT Levi Foland (Sr.), NG/G Riker Maxwell (Jr.), C/DE Logan Gustafson (Sr.), C Ty Engel (So.), G/DT C.J. Pickrel (Jr.)

Incoming players: OL/DL Baron Klaassen, E Major Williams, QB/DB Grant Pickrel.

Key returning players: TJ Dubas, the Warriors’ offensive leader, looks to improve upon his solid junior year.

“TJ can have a better season that last year,” Haughton said. “It’s always nice to get your top scorer back as well.

Haughton also is ecstatic to get two-way all-class honorable mention C.J. Pickrel back.

Key departure: Kole Prososki is a major loss.

“Cole was a four-time all-(class) player for us,” Haughton said. “He played in the Eight-Man all-star game. He is continuing his football career at the University of Nebraska-Kearney next season and he played every game for us since he was a freshman on both sides of the ball.”

Breakout players: Hunter Haughton has a good chance at playing some quarterback for his dad this season.

“Hunter has shown a lot at camp so far,” Ryan Haughton said. “He’s been dynamic, quick and constantly making plays.”

Isaac Gleason is another younger player that coach Haughton is excited about.

“Isaac is a 6-foot-2 wide receiver, who goes up big and has good hands to go along with that,” Haughton said.

On offense and defense: The Warriors run a balanced offense, utilizing the run to set up play-action.

“We like to keep the opponent off balance,” Haugton said. “This is accomplished by using our scouting report to decided how we are going to attack the opponent. We can run and pass but we adapt to the situation.”

Defensively, Fullerton forces the opposition to throw.

“We have a good secondary, so if we can force teams to throw, that plays into our hands,” Haughton said. “You aren’t going to win many games if you can’t stop the run.”

Game to watch: “Every game is as important as the rest,” Haughton said. “We recently moved up from Eight Man-2 to Eight Man-1 and this season we will be facing three schools that moved from 11-man to eight-man.”

The Warriors start with former Class C-2 opponent Arcadia-Loup City, which will be a test right off the bat for Fullerton .

2018 schedule (with 2017 record)

x — denotes playoff teams; district opponents in bold type

x-Aug. 24: Arcadia-Loup City (10-1)

x-Aug. 31: Osceola-High Plains (4-5)

Sept. 14: at Cross County (1-8)

Sept. 21: Ravenna (1-7)

x-Sept. 28: at Palmer (5-5)

Oct. 5: at Nebraska Christian (2-6)

x-Oct. 12: Heartland (7-2)

Oct. 18: at Shelton (2-6)

No. 9 Lawrence-Nelson (8-3)

The Lawrence-Nelson Raiders made another run at in the Eight Man-2 playoffs last season, but came up short against Mullen in the quarterfinals .

It was the Raiders’ sixth straight trip to the playoffs and 18th in the past 19 seasons.

Coach: Brian Blevins, 9th season

Record: 58-34

Championships: Seven, 1975 (EM-1), 1982 (EM-1), 1983 (EM-1), 1985 (EM-1), 1990 (EM-1), 2001 (C-2), 2002 (C-2)

Returning players: QB/S Lane Heikkinen (Sr.), RB/LB Jacob Sharp (Sr.), G/NG Kyle Golay (Jr.), FB/LB Boone Svoboda (Sr.), G Kaden Thompson (Sr.), C Brody Himmelberg (Sr.), G Coy Ceder (Jr.).

Key returning players: Quarterback Lane Heikkinen returns after amassing 1,842 total yards , combining for 31 touchdowns .

“In my opinion he is the best dual-threat quarterback in Eight Man-2. With the returning backfield, he could have a huge year in 2018,” Blevins said.

Kyle Golay looks to build upon an all-class sophomore season where he was dominant on both sides of the line.

“Kyle still needs to develop and mature, but should improve a lot from sophomore to junior year,” Blevins said. “He is very strong and powerful, constantly demanding a double team.”

Games to watch: The Raiders have a brutal stretch with six playoff teams to open their season, including state power Falls City Sacred Heart in their opener and runner-up Blue Hill in October.

Breakout player: Jake Sharp is a two-way player that will get to start with the departure of Kevin Schroer. In a backup role, Sharp ran for 815 yards and racked up 92 tackles.

“(He) could very possibly run for 1,500 yards and have over 100 tackles next season,” Blevins said.

2018 Schedule:

x — denotes playoff teams; district opponents in bold type

x-Aug. 30: at Falls City Sacred Heart (9-2)

x-Sept. 7: Diller-Odell (6-3)

x-Sept. 14: at Johnson-Brock (6-5)

x-Sept. 22: Giltner (6-4)

x-Sept. 28: at Kenesaw (9-2)

x-Oct. 5: Blue Hill (12-1)

Oct. 12: Axtell (2-6)

Oct. 18: at Franklin (0-8)

No. 8 Wynot (8-3)

The Wynot Blue Devils made another appearance in the playoffs, picking up a wins over Wausa and Friend before bowing out in the quarterfinals to BDS.

Coach: Steve Heimes, seventh season

Championships: None

Game to watch: The Blue Devils don’t get much room to breathe in their 2018 schedule. They face only one team with a losing record — seven of their eight opponents were 2017 playoff teams. The game against Bloomfield looks to be the toughest and could decide who comes out on top in the district.

2018 schedule (with 2017 record)

x — denotes playoff teams; district opponents in bold type

x-Aug. 24: at Plainview (5-5)

x-Aug. 31: Humphrey St. Francis (7-3)

x-Sept. 7: at Osmond (3-6)

x-Sept. 21: at Wausa (5-4)

x-Sept. 28: Randolph (7-3)

x-Oct. 5: Hartington-Newcastle (5-4)

x-Oct. 12: at Bloomfield (10-1)

Oct. 19: Allen (5-4)

No. 7 Humphrey-Lindsay Holy Family

The 2018 season will bring Humphrey-Lindsay Holy Family and coach Bill Mimick back to six-man football. The team is coming off a 3-5 record when it was eight-man.

“We are excited to play six-man football,” Mimick said. “According to last year’s six-man schedule and teams coming to six-man from eight-man, we will playing a strong schedule.”

Coach: Bill Mimick, fifth season

Record: 16-18 at Humphrey-Lindsay Holy Family, 233-161-2 for his career.

Championships: None

Returning players: Seniors—Ethan Hanzel, Dylan Hanzel, Andrew Mendez, Matthew Pfeifer and Noah Hardin. Juniors—Bryce Claasen and Preston Sueper. Sophomores—Zach Pfeifer, Dylan Dohmen, Cole Presiter, Ethan Johnson and Carter Jacobson.

Game to watch: “Our goal will be a winning season and contend for the district championship,” Mimick said. “We are not eligible for the state playoffs so each game is a playoff game.”

2018 schedule (with 2017 record)

x — denotes playoff teams; district opponents in bold type

Aug. 23: at Deshler (7-2)

x-Aug. 31: McCool Junction (2-7)

Sept. 7: Sterling (0-7)

x-Sept. 21: at Sparking Academy (7-2)

x-Sept. 28: Walthill (6-3)

Oct. 5: Elba (1-7)

Oct. 12: at St. Edward (3-5)

Oct. 19: at Santee (0-7)

No. 6 Bloomfield (10-1)

The Bloomfield Bees are coming off another deep playoff run, ending with a 15-14 loss in the quarterfinals to Falls City Sacred Heart .

The Bees have made 30 straight playoff appearances, only one behind Falls City Sacred Heart for the longest streak.

Coach Matt Kuchar and Bees will look to continue the streak and improve upon their 2017 season.

“We will return a great group of athletes in the secondary, returning all three DBs, one all-state player in Brantson Gieselman and an all-district player in Mitchell Mackeprang,” Kuchar said. “For us to have success, we need to have development from our young linemen, our seniors to step up, develop players and avoid injuries.”

Coach: Matt Kuchar, sixth season

Record: 37-14

Championships: 1992

Returning players: LB/FB Brantson Gieselman (Sr.), DB/TE Trenton Holz (Sr.), OL/DL Mitchell Mackeprang (Sr.), QB/DB Braden Eisenhauer (Jr.), OL/LB Dylan Kauth (Sr.), RB/DB Will Fehringer (Sr.), OL/DL Daniel Bruegman (Jr.), FB/LB Logan Johnson (Jr.), TE/DB Dade Davis (Jr.), OL/DL Gage Pedersen (So.), OL/DL Gabe Lauck (So.), TE/DE Cole Miller (So.), OL/DL Yuset Arellanes (Sr.), FB/DB Tyson Sauser (So.)

Key returning player: Brantson Gieselman had an all-state 2017 season, which included a team-best 108 tackles. Kuchar says Gieselman is a very instinctive linebacker.

“Gieselman has all-state potential,” Kuchar said. “He made open-field tackles against (Falls City Sacred Heart QB) Drew Bippes, one of the top players in Eight Man-2, last year.”

Key departure: All-state running back Quinten Moles graduated and his 2,600 all-purpose yards will be hard to replace.

Breakout player: Kuchar is looking at Mitchell Mackeprang to build upon his all-state honorable mention season from 2017.

“Mackeprang is a one of those guys who can turn the switch and make plays,” Kuchar said.

On offense and defense: The Bees look to run the majority of the time but are working on passing more.

“We will be looking to pass more because the strength of our team is in our skill position players,” Kuchar said.

Bloomfield has returning starters on the defensive side of the ball (Holz, Eisenhauer, Fehringer and Gieselman) but will need some of their younger guys to step up and also get through injuries.

Game to watch: The Bees have a favorable schedule early but the competition will pick up in districts.

2018 schedule (with 2017 record)

x — denotes playoff teams; district opponents in bold type

Aug. 23: Winside (2-6)

Aug. 31: O’Neill St. Mary’s (1-7)

x-Sept. 7: at Stuart (3-6)

x-Sept. 21: Allen (5-4)

x-Sept. 28: at Wausa (5-4)

x-Oct. 4: at Randolph (7-3)

x-Oct. 12: Wynot (8-3)

x-Oct. 18: at Hartington-Newcastle (5-4)

No. 5 Mullen (11-1)

Coach Mitch Pfeiffer and the Mullen Broncos will look to build on their 2017 campaign. The Broncos, who haven’t been to the state finals since 2004, made the Eight Man-2 semifinals before losing 42-30 to Blue Hill.

Mullen begins a very tough schedule against Hemingford, who made the second round of the playoffs in 2017. It’s the first of five teams the Broncos will face that made playoffs .

“We have a very challenging schedule,” Pfeiffer said. “Our team will have to be prepared every week. Due to the success of the team last year, we are going to get everyone’s best shot.”

Coach: Mitch Pfeiffer, 6th season

Career record: 36-17

Championships: Three, 1990 (EM-1), 1998 (EM-1), 2003 (EM-2)

Returning players: CB/SE Zachery Sweet (Sr.), QB/FS Brady Gracey (Sr.), RB/QB Brendon Walker (So.), RB/CB Teven Marshall (Jr.), RB/CB Brandon Peters (Sr.), RB/CB Lane Edis (Sr.), RB/CB Justin Wiens (Sr.), OL/LB Jared Finney (Jr.), FB/LB Riley Kessler (Jr.), RB/LB Ty Kvanvig (Jr.), C/OG Bryce McIntosh (So.), C/DE Colton Hendrix (Sr.), RB/CB Jade Lovitt (Sr.), OL/DE Brenner Ambrosek (Jr.), OG/DT Ryan Jensen (Sr.), C/DL Kendal Neal (So.), OL/DL Koby Walker (Sr.), TE/DE Ty Durfee (Sr.), OL/DE Josh Cox (Sr.), RB/CB Max Svoboda (Jr.), G/DL Clayton Hassett (Jr.)

Key returning player: Lane Edis looks to carry another heavy workload for his senior season. Edis is coming off a season with 2,325 yards rushing and 45 touchdowns.

Key departure: Tell Spies graduated and is playing at South Dakota after a stellar high school career. The Broncos will miss his 10.7 tackles per game from the 2017 season.

Breakout player: “No one comes to mind,” Pfeiffer said. “We have a lot of depth and are hoping that a lot of guys can step up and fill into a lot of roles.”

On offense and defense: The Broncos like to run ball but have the capability to pass. Defensively the Broncos will use a 3-4 or 4-3 based on what the offense is giving them. On both sides of the ball, Pfeiffer looks to be adaptable to the situation and the team that he is playing.

Game to watch: “The first game is as important as any other,” Pfeiffer said. “We start with Hemingford, who made a deep playoff run last year and it will be a tough schedule all the way through the season.”

Mullen will face five playoff teams throughout their season including Eight Man-1 semifinalist Medicine Valley with both teams combining for a 22-2 record in 2017.

2018 schedule (with 2017 record)

x — denotes playoff teams; district opponents in bold type

x-Aug. 24: Hemingford (7-3)

Aug. 31: at Anselmo-Merna (3-5)

x-Sept. 7: at Garden Country (8-2)

Sept. 21: Brady (2-6)

x-Sept. 28: at Medicine Valley (11-1)

x-Oct. 5: Sandhills/Thedford (4-5)

Oct. 12: at Maxwell (4-4)

x-Oct. 18: Paxton (7-3)

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