The World-Herald is running its annual high school football preview series in 2019. The rankings are based off the final 2018 ratings.
Omaha Burke and coach Paul Limongi had a season that couldn’t have gone any better: a 13-0 record and a Class A state championship. What comes next?
Grand Island made a surprising run and reached the state finals a year ago with a senior-heavy team. Now, down a starting quarterback and a lot of talent all over the field, matching that success will be tough.
“We’ve got some good players we like, and we’re hoping we can protect the quarterback long enough that he can deliver football to them,” Millard West coach Kirk Peterson said.
“Starting unit-wise, it’s arguably the most talented group, by scholarship offers, it is,” Bellevue West coach Michael Huffman said.
"Class A is always tough," Millard South coach Andy Means said. 2019 will be no exception.
“Everybody wants to knock off the guys that won it last year, so we have to get the kids prepared to get everybody’s best shot every week,” coach Matt Turman said.
The Bearcats bring back plenty of experience, with 14 returning starters, to make another run at the school’s first state championship.
Waverly graduated its leading passer, rusher, tackler and receiver, which means a lot of new faces in 2019. One of those is head coach Reed Manstedt, the former head coach at Crete.
“They’re lacking experience," McCook head coach Jeff Gross said of his team. "I know that experience is the one thing you want, but this is a group that has been patiently waiting their time.”
The last few seasons of Class B football have seen a lot of the same faces in the playoffs, with certain programs rising to success time and time again.
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The Huskies will be without most of the prolific offense that averaged over 50 points a game. "We're untested," coach Kyle Peterson said.
Wahoo has lost in the semifinals to the eventual state champions in each of the past two years. Coach Chad Fox and the Warriors feel more prepared to seize their first state title.
Ord's appearance in last year's Class C-1 championship game was a change of pace for a program that hadn’t reached the playoffs during its first three years under coach Nate Wells. It could mean an even better season for the Chanticleers this year.
“We’ll just pick up where we left off and keep it rolling," new head coach Doug Lanik said. Lanik takes over for longtime coach Tim Turman, who retired at the end of last season.
The teams who finished near the top of the Class C-1 rankings in 2018 will bring back varying amounts of experience to the field this season.
A perfect 13-0 season and a Class C-2 championship was a testament to Centennial's recent success. But the Broncos lost an impactful senior class, and they'll have to rely on a lot of underclassmen to get back to Lincoln.
With some talented seniors gone, veteran coach Jeff Bellar and Norfolk Catholic will quickly learn if a young team can match last season’s success.
Sutton returns four starters on each side of the ball from a team that advanced to the state semifinals in 2018.
Oakland-Craig has reached the playoffs in 11 straight years. With 13 returning starters, coach Joe Anderson's team is set up well to extend that streak.
The consensus is in: The 2019 Class C-2 title is shaping up to be anyone’s for the taking. “It’s pretty wide open,” Wilber-Clatonia coach Lynn Jurgens said.
Creighton graduated seven seniors, including two first-team all-state players, off the state title-winning roster, but this year’s senior class boasts 12 players.
No matter what obstacles Burwell has faced over the past several years, it’s found ways to be consistently good. Going into this season, the Longhorns will be tested yet again.
EMF coach Dean Filipi, in his 37th season with the team, has to replace two first-team all-state players and five honorable mentions. "We've got a lot of holes to fill," Filipi said.
The Trojans should be a Class C-2 football school based on their enrollment and population, but due to low participation numbers they opt down to play in Eight Man-1 and, thus, aren't eligible for the playoffs.
There hasn't been a repeat champion in Eight Man-1 football since Elgin Public/Pope John won back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012.
Senior wide receiver/linebacker Ty Hahn is the only returning starter for the Eagles, last year's Eight-Man 2 state champions. “We’re going to be young and inexperienced,” Johnson-Brock coach Mitch Roberts said.
Humphrey St. Francis returns the bulk of its experienced 2018 lineup, including six starters, all of whom are seniors, on both sides of the ball.
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"We’ve got quite a few guys that played a lot last year coming back,” Irish coach Doug Goltz said.
A 12-1 record featuring a 4-0 district mark and a trip to the Eight Man-2 title game was nothing new for Mullen and coach Mitch Pfeiffer, but it served as vindication for a program that has built a name for itself through consistently taking care of business.
Defending state champion Johnson-Brock won its first state title in 2018, but the Eagles will attempt to repeat as champions in Eight Man-2 with just one returning starter.