World-Herald prep recruiting specialist Mike Sautter attended Lincoln High football practice on Wednesday. Here are some observations.
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Lincoln High has made the state playoffs in back-to-back years for the first time in program history. The 2018 Links are looking to make it three in a row and win their first playoff game since 1992.
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Senior quarterback Cedric Case is the clear No. 1 quarterback on the roster. The North Dakota commit passed for 3,294 yards, 35 touchdown and four interceptions his junior season. His average of 324.9 passing yards a game broke the 11-man state record. The 2018 All-Nebraska selection knows the offense better than most high school quarterbacks and has complete command of the huddle.
Many don't know what to expect from senior do-it-all player Cam Kleinschmidt. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound transfer from Sutton was all over the field Wednesday. He lined up as an in-the-box strong safety and running back/wide receiver. Kleinschmidt has all the makings of a breakout player for the Links.
Running back Isaiah Alford is back for his senior season. The Nebraska wrestling commit is a physical back and can find space with quick feet. The Links' lead back has the potential to rush for over 1,000 yards in 2018.
Senior wide receiver Morgan Perry could be in line for a big senior season. In 2017 he caught 40 passes for 700 yards and eight touchdowns. Perry is also the teams best cornerback and will likely be the starting kick returner.
Junior corner Jadus Ellis transferred from Millard North and is the team's fastest player. The addition of Ellis to the defensive backfield, along with North Dakota commit Darius Luff, Kleinschmidt and Perry, will make the Links' secondary one of the state's best.
While the Lincoln High offense will put up points, the defense has been a question for the last two years.
What might be surprising is that the 2017 defense gave up an average of 14.2 points per game, including back-to-back shutouts. The schedule gets tougher in 2018 for the Links' defense, including an opening-night game at Bellevue West.
The defensive front will need to develop around three-year starting defensive tackle Drevan Long. Long is also the team's best offensive lineman and will protect Case at left tackle. Up front, Garrett Hoagland returns at inside linebacker after recording 43 tackles and four sacks last season.