World-Herald prep recruiting specialist Mike Sautter attended Omaha North football practice on Tuesday. Here are some observations.
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Omaha North has been a juggernaut this decade, making it to the state championship game in five of the past six seasons.
Led by Zander Gray, the Vikings will run the ball. A lot. Gray rushed for 1,707 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2017. Not bad for splitting carries with record-setting back Milton Sargbah.
The running game will be helped by quarterback Houston Fogelstrom, who was an efficient passer last season. Fogelstrom threw for 1,040 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions. It wouldn't shock me if North throws more this season than most would expect. Foglestrom looked like more than just a game manager on Tuesday. Senior wide receiver Jalen Foster and junior John Farmer will provide solid targets for Foglestrom.
If the Vikings' offensive line isn't the best in the state this season, it certainly is the biggest. Senior left tackle Mekhi Butler is not just big at 6-foot-5, 295 pounds, he can move and has a mean streak. At left guard, senior Keegan Clark checks in at 6-foot and 250 pounds. Senior center Austin Wegner 6-foot, 230 pounds. Junior right guard Sage Kehr gained significant experience last season and is 6-1, 235. Sophomore right tackle is Hunter Push was listed at 6-2, 220 pounds last season. It is safe to say he has grown up. He is now 6-4 and at least 240 pounds.
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There are two things that could derail the Vikings' 2018 championship aspirations: injuries and lack of experience on defense. There is plenty of young talent at linebacker and in the secondary to get make opponents fearful of that unit.
Replacing Syriuz Pittman and his 157 tackles from a season ago will be Omaha Creighton Prep transfer Steven Krawczyk. Krawczyk, 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, was the Junior Jays’ leading tackler last season. He should provide experience at linebacker along with returning starter and outside linebacker Malachi O’Neal.
Two juniors that are primed for breakout seasons are Tre'on Fairgood-Jones at outside linebacker opposite O'Neal. Fairgood-Jones could see time in the backfield spelling Gray as well. Defensive back Marques Sigle is a long athlete that is fluid with his movement and led his group in conditioning at the end of practice.