Yes, the same Class A schools seem to make the playoffs every year. And there’s an even smaller inner circle that are perennial threats to go deep into the postseason.
In the current two-year scheduling cycle, 14 schools have been to the playoffs both seasons. This year, Millard North and Papillion-La Vista South join them with Lincoln High and Papillion-La Vista dropping out.
Six schools didn’t get there this decade. Two come with asterisks. Elkhorn and Gretna moved into Class A in this scheduling cycle. The other four are Omaha South, Omaha Bryan, Omaha Northwest and Omaha Benson.
Perhaps more telling is the examination of when schools last won a playoff game. Obviously, eight did last year to form the quarterfinals. Three more had wins in 2017.
But 12 schools didn’t this decade. In addition to the six aforementioned schools, the others are Lincoln North Star, North Platte, Bellevue East, Fremont, Lincoln High and Lincoln Pius X. In Pius’ case, it has been in and out of the state’s largest class.
Fremont last won a playoff game in 1998, Lincoln High in 1992, Omaha Northwest in 1982 and Omaha South never.
As for this decade in Class B, which shrank to 23 teams the past two years, only Schuyler didn’t qualify. Seven other schools didn’t get past the first round — Gering, Alliance, Hastings, South Sioux City, Lexington, Elkhorn Mount Michael and Bennington. Lexington’s last win was 1997, with 1991 for Mount Michael and never for Bennington.
Last time in playoffs, win
Omaha South 2004 never
Lincoln Pius X 2018 never
Omaha Northwest 2008 1982
Lincoln High 2018 1992
Fremont 2017 1998
Omaha Benson 2009 2000
Omaha Bryan 2007 2000
Bellevue East 2014 2004
North Platte 2015 2004
Lincoln North Star 2015 2008
Elkhorn 2009 2009
Columbus 2014 2010
Lincoln Northeast 2015 2010
Lincoln Southwest 2018 2011
Papillion-La Vista 2018 2013
Norfolk 2017 2015
Omaha Central 2015 2015
Papillion-LV South 2017 2015
Millard North 2017 2016
Lincoln East 2018 2016
Om. Creighton Prep 2018 2017
Kearney 2018 2017
Omaha North 2018 2017
Bellevue West 2018 2018
Elkhorn South 2018 2018
Grand Island 2018 2018
Lincoln Southeast 2018 2018
Millard South 2018 2018
Millard West 2018 2018
Omaha Burke 2018 2018
Omaha Westside 2018 2018
Note: Gretna has been in Class A for the past two seasons only and has not qualified for the playoffs.
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Bennington 2018 never
Elkhorn Mt. Michael 2018 1991
Lexington 2018 1997
South Sioux City 2012 2001
Hastings 2018 2007
Alliance 2018 2008
Schuyler 2008 2008
Gering 2011 2009
Crete 2014 2011
Omaha Gross 2017 2012
Ralston 2018 2013
Plattsmouth 2017 2015
Beatrice 2017 2016
Norris 2018 2016
Grand Island Northwest 2018 2017
Blair 2018 2018
McCook 2018 2018
Omaha Roncalli 2018 2018
Omaha Skutt 2018 2018
Seward 2018 2018
Scottsbluff 2018 2018
Waverly 2018 2018
York 2018 2018
2020, 2021 district projections
The next scheduling cycle bases Class A district assignments on how the schools fared in the NSAA point standings the previous cycle, using a serpentine method.
Here’s how I see the districts shaking out for the 2020 and 2021 seasons, based on no school falling below the 850 three-grade enrollment cutoff:
District 1: Millard West (809 points), Omaha Creighton Prep (727), Lincoln East (710), Lincoln Northeast (630), North Platte (629)
District 2: Millard South (800), Omaha North (728), Lincoln Pius X (705), Lincoln North Star (652), Fremont (627)
District 3: Omaha Burke (799), Lincoln Southwest (735), Papillion-La Vista South (701), Omaha Central (659), Omaha South (621)
District 4: Bellevue West (790), Kearney (738), Lincoln High (694), Columbus (665), Omaha Northwest (620)
District 5: Lincoln Southeast (781), Elkhorn South (744), Papillion-La Vista (685), Gretna (666), Bellevue East (613)
District 6: Grand Island (777), Omaha Westside (774), Millard North (683), Norfolk (667), Omaha Bryan (578), Omaha Benson (549)
Elkhorn leaves Class A because it will go to Class B while spinning off the new Elkhorn North — that means Class B could grow from 23 to 25 schools for football. South Sioux City the past two years opted down to Class B, but if its enrollment stays above 850 and it doesn’t opt down, it would go into District 5.
Last teams out
The teams in each class that were immediately on the outside of the playoff brackets were Papio (4-5) in Class A, Beatrice (3-6) on a tiebreaker in Class B, Mitchell (5-4) in C-1 (lost head-to-head tiebreaker with No. 16 Valentine), Johnson County (5-4) in C-2, South Loup (3-5) in Eight Man-1, Wauneta-Palisade (3-5) in Eight Man-2 and Dorchester (4-4) in Six Man.
Other teams with winning records not in the playoffs are Platteview, Lincoln Lutheran, Fairbury, Nebraska City, Chadron and Fort Calhoun in C-1, Bridgeport in C-2. These teams were ineligible because of enrollment cutoffs: Wakefield and Ravenna in Eight Man-1 and Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family in Six Man.
Top 10/Class A: New No. 6 Grand Island flips positions with Omaha Westside, which lost 41-26 at Millard South.
Class B: Bennington, winners of six of seven, moves into sixth after Hastings lost 49-13 at home to Grand Island Northwest.
Class C-1: New No. 10 Wayne bounced out then-No. 7 Wahoo Neumann with a 14-10 road win.
Class C-2: Sutton is third, with Bancroft-Rosalie/Lyons-Decatur dropping to fourth after losing 40-30 at No. 2 Oakland-Craig. Fremont Bergan returns at No. 10 after Shelby-Rising City lost its third straight game to a rated team.
Eight Man-1: Wisner-Pilger loses ground after losing 62-26 to Wakefield. Arcadia-Loup City beat previous No. 5 Elm Creek to bounce the Buffaloes from the ratings.
Eight Man-2: Some shuffling results from new No. 10 Elwood edging previous No. 8 Overton.