The Pinnacle Bank Game of the Week features No. 1 Bellevue West versus No. 4 Elkhorn South. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday at Bellevue West's Fairman Field.
The two teams met twice last season, and Bellevue West won both games — 38-3 in the regular season and 38-31 in the quarterfinals of the state playoffs.
"Elkhorn South is a really good football team that combines good size, good speed and good coaching to create a fantastic opponent for Friday night," Bellevue West coach Michael Huffman said. "We are excited to throw all the chips in and see how it plays out."
Both teams have rolled to 3-0 records to start the season. Bellevue West has outscored its three opponents 177-9, and Elkhorn South has outscored opponents 134-34.
"Bellevue West threatens the whole field on offense and has multiple playmakers." Elkhorn South coach Guy Rosenberg said. "On defense they have excellent team speed and pursue well. We're excited for the challenge. It should be a great atmosphere for football."
Bellevue West is led offensively by senior running back Jay Ducker, a Northern Illinois commit who has rushed for 509 yards and nine touchdowns on 27 carries. He also has four catches for 41 yards and one touchdown. Nebraska commit Zavier Betts is off to a blistering start of his own with 11 catches for 386 yards and five touchdowns.
Elkhorn South has some firepower of its own. Senior running back Eli Hustad is off to a strong start and is the lead back for the Storm. Senior Blaze Doxzon and sophomore Ben Warren are threats out of the backfield as well.
Linebackers for both teams will have their hands full.
Elkhorn South senior Jack Paradis is the leader in the middle for the Storm. Opposite Paradis at middle linebacker is junior Bo Wieseler. Sophomore Koy Wilke will only get better with more experience. Junior Makhi Nelson-Douglas has the speed and strength to disrupt the Bellevue West attack.
Bellevue West will need big plays from junior linebacker Ryan Rogers and junior strong safety Jack McDonnell, who is the team's leading tackler with 24 total tackles and five for loss.
The two quarterbacks are undervalued when talking about the best in the state. Both are a threat on the ground and through the air.
Bellevue West senior Nate Glantz has a blistering 65% completion rate and is yet to throw an interception. Storm quarterback Elliott Brown complied over 1,000 yards in 2018 and is more of a running threat than a passing threat.
With two good coaching staffs, it is likely that other options offensively will be need to make plays.
After missing the first three games due to a foot injury, South Dakota State commit Nate Sullivan will make his season debut for Bellevue West. Sullivan will provide even more firepower to the T-Bird offense and will rotate in at safety.
Junior Keagan Johnson is off to a strong start for the T-Birds. The two-way player is second on the team with 10 receptions and three touchdowns, and he's versatile enough to play both safety and cornerback.
Two big-bodied sophomore receivers — Kaden Helms and Micah Riley — are threats from the slot.
Along with Hustad and Brown, the Storm will likely rely on an emerging group of playmaking wide receivers. Junior slot receiver Guy Hunt and junior Zach Michener are more than capable of making plays to open up the Storm offense.
"Offensively they utilize deception and big-bodied lineman to create running lanes and throw just enough to keep you honest," Huffman said.
Elkhorn South has one of the better offensive lines in the state, led by three juniors. Along with 6-foot-9, 285-pound tackle Teddy Prochazka, center Isaac Zatechka and Cooper Taylor started as sophomores last season.
Bellevue West's line will have a challenge, but a strong group of seniors — Thomas Ault, TJ Griffin, Kameron Kodat, and Caden Lind — have the experience advantage. Sophomore Henry Rickels has developed nicely and provides strong depth for the T-Birds.
Photos: Division I basketball and football recruits in Nebraska for the 2020 class
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