View of Memorial Stadium from 6 stories "up"
Well, it's truly "Black Friday" for the 1000 Yard Guy. The day that signifies the high school football season is over for 2009.......actually it was Wednesday, but it takes a day or two before that fact to sink in and the cold reality to hit like a ton of red bricks.
Here is a look at each final, who stood and what stood out, and a first for me.....
An All-State backfield for each Class, and a second backfield unit. I may take a stab at an entire All-State squad for each Class later, but we'll stick with this format for the time being. So why linger, let's get with the program:
CLASS A - Millard South 45-17 Millard West
To say Millard West started the season a little slowly is probably an understatement. The 'Cats really put it together the very next game after being whitewashed by those same Patriots 28-0. They came storming back in the second half against a good Omaha Burke team and blasted the Bulldogs 56-28. It was full steam ahead from that point on, but a small concern of mine was the 38 given up against Papio in the season finale even though it was due to the fine arm of Jeff Weander. All along most pundits were worried about Millard South's defense, but the fact also remained how to neutralize Mr. Marsh and the offense which seemed a tad bit easier given the fact MS had no dominant running back. Easier said than done, Bruno.
It was the "Bronson Marsh Show" in the "A" Final and he killed them with his legs, not his arm. Man, when Marsh rolled left and spotted the opening, he fired up the jets and nobody could see the blur go by. If you haven't seen the kid run, you could swear he is a :10.7 hundred man. The rare 3-year Class A quarterback starter ran for a buck 57 in the win and was a demon on defense the short time he was in. He pirated a pass inside the red zone and allowed the Patriots to hold a 3 score lead.
Players that caught my Eye:
*Phillip Colling (#32)-Millard West on defense. Recorded 5 solo tackles and 8 assists.
*Zach Whitham-MW- Yes, they lost the game, but Whitham completed 12 of 18 passes for 188 yards and a score. His favorite target also impressed me.......
*Brian Buttry-MW WR (#18) Hauled in 5 receptions for a hefty 123 yards and a sweet 43 yard score.
*The Millard South Rushing defense: Held 1200 yard rusher Vincenzo Guido to 68 yards and the entire MW team to 147.
*Bronson Marsh - Goes without saying. The slick signal caller moved ahead of Scott Frost on the career passing list by throwing for 2,425 yards this year. He finishes his illustrious career with 6,826, forging ahead of Frost's 6,793. He also ran for 895 yards. Anybody care to argue that he should be the All-State QB in Class A?
The way this Patriot group played was a shining example of the word "TEAM".
One outstanding leader in Marsh and not one star otherwise....No "I" in team here!
Class A All-State Backfield
QB - Bronson Marsh - Millard Marsh
RB - Vincenzo Guido-Millard West
RB - Ron Coleman-Omaha North
RB - Nick Mizaur-Creighton Prep
QB - Jeff Weander - Papillion LaVista
RB - Antaries Daniels-Omaha Northwest
RB - Kyle Erickson-Millard North
RB - Zach Taylor-Lincoln Southeast
CLASS B Aurora 34-21 Omaha Skutt
Oh baby, talk about a team that can make adjustments at halftime! With the skill people Aurora has and the mastermind of Henderson native Randy Huebert and his stellar Aurora staff calling the shots, the Huskies had the tools to make it a "back-to-back". One of those "skill" people that surfaced in this Title game was defensive back Jacob Shaffer, a wiry 6-1, 175 Junior who can sky to either make a pick or break up a potential long gain reception. Shaffer has improved each game since I saw him in the season finale against Adams Central. Football smart and very athletic, Shaffer possesses cat-like reflexes and displayed those attributes by reading a Christian Dudzik ariel and cutting in front of a receiver to intercept a pass and make a game changing 58 yard interception/touchdown return. Shaffer also intercepted another pass deep in Aurora territory to thwart a Skutt drive and broke up a couple more crucial passes and caused a fumble late in the game to preserve a two score lead and seal the "W". He started last season as a Sophomore early in the season and has improved ever since.
OK, Christian Dudzik is one of my favorite players.....still is.....but Huskie QB Tyson Broekmeier stole the show by showing HE was the running QB in this one. Broekmeier, a 6-1, 165 Jr, rushed for 135 yards in 22 totes and 2 Tds. He also completed 13 of 21 tosses for 172 yards and a critical 39 yard TD strike to tough Kyle McCarthy. For good measure he threw for a 2 point conversion (to Josh Bart) and kicked 2 extra points through the narrower college posts.
*Players that caught my Eye:
*Christian Dudzik - Duuh, no surprise here! One statement came up time after time when I asked opposing coaches how to defense Dudzik...."no way defense athleticism like his". One thing stood out like a sore thumb and that was the absolute number one rule.....don't let him get into the open past the scrimmage line and let him maneuver or you will pay dearly. Christian may have thrown some picks, but you have to remember Skutt had only 5 interceptions all year, but it was the superior defensive skills of Aurora that caused the turnovers in this contest. Dudzik is good.
*Charles Perry (#1)-Aurora - 6 solos and 10 assists and all over the field on "D" for the Huskies. One of many stars on the defensive side.
*Josh Bart (#3)-Aurora - Same deal here. The All-Stater had his usual game: 6 solos-8 assists, and hauled in 5 passes for 47 yards. Just one in a long line of great Huskie pass catchers and DB's.
QB - Christian Dudzik-Omaha Skutt
RB - Ryan Randall-Blair (State Rushing King with 2,662 yards and only a JR.)
RB - Ryan Behmer-Hastings Adams Central (1,829 yards)
RB - Kyle Emanuel-Schuyler (2 year 1000 Yard man)
QB - Tyson Broekmeier-Aurora
RB - Brock Sherman-Crete (1,529 yards and a JR....powerful runner)
RB - Cody Anthony-Alliance (2 time 1000 yard guy rarely held under a 100 yards)
RB - Jared Janssen-Waverly (Give him more carries and he hits 1500.....easy)
CLASS C-1 - Hastings St. Cecilia 26-18 Norfolk Catholic
St. Cecilia's strength in the offensive line was evident from play one and continued throughout this great match-up. Talk about two legendary coaches, Carl Tesmer and Jeff Bellar are about as good as it gets. In the past it seemed like NC always had the edge in the line strength-wise, but they didn't have the monsters up front like past teams did. It was rock-hard players like 1800 yard rusher Dalton Sealey and 6-10 Zach Sterup that characterized the Bluehawks dedication to the weight room and paid big dividends. If it came down to a bag of tricks at the end, I knew Tez would have a bushel basket full to pick from (see ending of Broken Bow game).
St. C's appeared to be in solid command, but the Knights made a game of it behind the pinpoint passing of QB Austin Ketter. With just 6:08 left in the game and trailing 26-10, Norfolk Catholic gained great field position after the wind caught a Dalton Sealey punt and it floated only 8 yards to midfield. Ketter directed an 8 play drive that was highlighted by a 26 scoring yard strike to Kory Shaffer with 3:39 left in regulation.
After forcing the 'Hawks to punt again, Ketter again went to work from his own 35, completing passes to Ben Rowse (15 yds), Lucas Lyons (4 yds), then nailed Ethan Brozek with a 30 yard bulls eye to the St. Cecilia 15. With a buck 43 left, Wade Dykeman made an inside read and picked off an errant throw to seal the Bluehawks first State Title since the C-1 plum against Bishop Neumann in 2000. St. Cecilia pounded the usually solid Knight "D" for 303 yards on the ground, led by the 1000 Yard duo of Sealey (1,887) and lightening fast FB Ben Konen (1,016)
*Players that impressed me:
*Dalton Sealey-St. Cecilia - Appeared to "come from nowhere" and gain almost 2000 yards this season. Not as it seemed if you followed this kid. I predicted way back in the spring if Carl placed him at RB and gave him close to 200 carries he would hit 2000 yards. So, I was off 113 yards. ):
*Austin Ketter-Norfolk Catholic - This QB was better than I thought. He ended up passing to the tune of 99-167 for 1,576 yards, 15 TD's and only 5 interceptions, two of which came in this game. I'd say a completion percentage of 60% isn't too shabby.
*Paul Goedert-St. Cecilia - Defensive signal caller and ring leader for the Bluehawks. He had 4 solos and 9 assists in this game to pad his season total to whopping 99 solo tackles and 38 assists. What a player.
*Zach Sterup-St. Cecilia - How many passes did this giant knock down this season? Holy cow, his wing span must be as wide as a DC10. I don't know his tackle total, but his ability to disrupt an offense is amazing. Somebody better be looking at this Junior.
*Brant O'Banion-Norfolk Catholic - How much tougher can you get than number 47 for the Knights? He was ALL over the place with 4 solos and 12 assists. PURE football player.
*Kory Shaffer-Norfolk Catholic - Another defensive demon. Had 2 solos, but a big 13 assists, not to mention the 26 yard scoring catch when they needed the most.
C-1 All-State Backfield
QB - Austin Ketter-Norfolk Catholic
RB - Dalton Sealey-Hastings St. Cecilia
RB - Seth Behrens-David City
RB - Kevin Barrett-Boys Town
*Barrett could very well have been a selection at QB on this squad.
2nd Team Backfield
QB - Kendall Kucera - Centennial
RB - Kelby Seyl - Norfolk Catholic
RB - Landon Haake-Gothenburg
RB - Dakota Schulenburg - Falls City
CLASS C-2 - Ponca 14-13 (OT) Hartington Cedar Catholic
All season I had been told by coaches who played Ponca that their Offensive line was superior. What happened in overtime was just the opposite of what many scribes in the press box thought. It was that "O" line of the Indians that opened up holes for 2000 yard rusher Jared Curry and paved the way to a TD and all important extra point kick. When it was Cedar's turn, you just knew that when the Trojans lined up in that "Maryland-I" and fed the ball to 5000 yard career back, Chad Koch, they would score.
They did, but it was the point after that provided the drama. So, sticking with a decision head coach Chad Cattau had made years ago (go for two for the win) the HCC offense lined up in that same Maryland-I, but it was the Ponca defense that turned the same trick it had done twice earlier to win games....stuffed the super-back Koch three yards short of the goal line for the win and the State C-2 Crown. That victory was the second this season over a quality HCC team. The Indians had bested the Trojans 36-27 in an explosive showdown October 16th. This baby was a defensive gem, but still showcased a billing of two 2000 yard runners, a match-up I cannot recall ever seeing in an 11-Man Title game.
*Players that caught my attention:
*Chad Koch-HCC - Not only one of the strongest, yards-after-contact backs I have seen in a long time, he was a constant standout on defense in this game and all season collecting 38 solo tackles and 91 assists to go with his 2,475 yards, 5,847 Career yards and 36 rushing Tds in '09.
*Eric Becker (#44)-HCC - All over the place on "D". Had 10 assists to go with his 94 tackle points for the year.
*Jared Curry-Ponca - Rushed for winning score, had 90 tough yards on 29 grueling carries. Ended the year with 2,305 yards and his career gained 4,296. Had 1,546 on 240 carries a year ago.
C-2 All-State Backfield
QB - Josh Crowell - Ravenna (Averaged 11 yards/carry for his CAREER!)
RB - Chad Koch - Hartington Cedar Catholic
RB - Jared Curry - Ponca
RB - Derek Foster - Elm Creek
2nd Team Backfield
RB - Gus Peterson-Cambridge (Jr. following his Dad's huge footsteps!)
RB - Randon McCain - Sutherland (Three Year 1000 Yard Rusher)
RB - Tate Erbst - Stanton (Repeat 1000 Yard Man)
RB - Nate Roh - David City Aquinas (Rare 1000 Yarder for Ron Mimick's wing-T)
CLASS D-1 8-Man - Howells 68-28 Giltner
I'm man enough to admit I almost felt sorry for the Hornets as this game progressed. They just did not match up physically with the mighty Howells machine and with the absence of Nate Most on defense on many defensive series, things became worse to the point I thought the Bobcats might hit 80. I have NEVER seen a team as disciplined and fundamentally sound in every phase of the game of football like Mike Speirs players appear to be. They just DO NOT make very many errors. What appears to be a simple pitch play to Clint Belina and should be able to be stopped with a good defense, is a gazillion times more difficult with the way the blocking schemes are set up, and the Hornets, like every other team Howells played this season, were unable to halt that bread and butter play. If Giltner would have run up and down the field a few more times and scored, I have no doubt Belina could have gained 500 yards, but that is not the way Howells plays the game. On the other side of the coin, to stop a machine like Giltner had become in the past two weeks is truly amazing.....very amazing to be certain. Only Howells could have pulled that off. A program that will go down in history as one of 8-Man's very best, along with Falls City Sacred Heart and Humphrey St. Francis.
*Players that caught my eye:
*CLINT BELINA-Howells - How good IS this kid? Not many know he played this Title game with a hip pointer. The Bobcat standout ended his career with 6,607 yards, had 1,469 as a Sophomore, 2,478 last season, and rambled for 2,647 this year. You know he rarely played the second half of many, many games also. He established playoff records of 25 TD's and 1,327 yards.....One of a kind.
*Nate Most-Giltner - I know he had a rough outing in this one, (if you consider 19-27 for 164 and bad day) but he is the most prolific passer in Nebraska High School Football history. Threw for 7,833 yards and a 108 scores in his career which includes 2,923 yards and 52 TD's this season. The finest 8-Man arm I've EVER witnessed...period.
*Drew Ott-Giltner - Only a Sophomore, he came close to making All-State as a 9th grader at Linebacker. This head hunter had an incredible 76 solos, 123 assists and 199 tackle points going into the Title game. Also found time to nab 34 passes for 424 yards and 9 scores on offense. Oh, he also intercepted 4 passes and recovered 2 fumbles too. A pure football player and maybe a future All-State roundballer also.
*The Entire Howells defense......nuff said here.
* The entire Howells offense that set up blocks for Belina......same deal.
D-1 All-State Backfield
QB - Nate Most - Giltner
RB - Clint Belina - Howells
RB - Jared Hodgsen-Overton
RB - Dustin Park - Arapahoe
2nd Team Backfield
Back - Cody Calhoun-Maxwell (1000 yard receiver last year.... How do you do that!)
Back - Skyler Strope-Clearwater/Orchard (Repeat 1000 Yard Rusher)
Back - Clint Damme - Johnson-Brock (Jr.) (Better than you think, Bubba)
Back - Ryan Meier-Meridian (Played against tough competition, repeat 1000 Yarder)
CLASS D-2 8-Man - Humphrey St. Francis 34-0 Hayes Center
You know what? St. Frans has one heck of a football team, period, but you have to give Scott Jorgensen and his Hayes Center team props for the way they have put together back-to-back outstanding seasons. Who would have ever imagined anybody could shutout Pleasanton? What a run for the Cardinals, but the Flyer bunch they ran up against at Memorial Stadium was one sweet football machine, led by Matt Korus, who EVERY Touchdown in this Championship game......5 to be exact. You won't find too many like Korus, who ended his season with a staggering 2,110 yards and was one of EIGHT 2000 yard rushers in 2009. He scored 354 points, scored 49 Tds and averaged nearly 9 yards a pop. Korus became the only Flyer to ever hit the 2000 mark in their storied history.
The St Frans stingy "D" allowed HC only 132 total yards on this day and held 2,275 yard rusher Keifer Messersmith to only 79 yards on 19 attempts.
*Players that caught my eye: (Other than Korus and Messersmith)
*Trent Classen-HSF - The QB and leader of this team was almost as dangerous as Korus. His presence as a leader was invaluable. Leading tackler on defense, also pirated 4 passed, had a couple QB sacks and recovered 2 fumbles.
*Tyler Clifford (#24)-Hayes Center - Let me tell you something about this bunch. When they laid the wood, you were down....no assistance needed! Tyler C. recorded 12 solos in this game and 8 assists. On the season he ran for 661 yards and 18 scores, had an incredible 85 solo stops and 47 assists and recovered 4 fumbles.
*Brady Rosno (#84) - Hayes Center - At 6-3 and a 165 pounds, he looks skinny, BUT. Mother of mercy can he hit! Had 11 solo tackles in this game alone. He finished the season with 55 solos, 31 assists, and intercepted 6 passes.
D-2 All-State Backfield
Back - Matt Korus - Humphrey St. Francis
Back - Keifer Messer smith - Hayes Center
Back - Sean Campbell - Pleasanton
Back - Alex Dose - Hampton
2nd Team Backfield
QB - Jordan Ottoson - Potter-Dix (I don't care who he played......sharpshooter!)
RB - Todd Walz - Stapleton/MC (1,816 in 2009, 1,537 last year...NO PLAYOFFS)
RB - Matt Hoffman - Chambers (One of the toughest around)
FB - Jake Wirthele-Sterling (Get out of the way when he comes through)
And.............the curtain comes down on another splendid High School Football Season. I caught 30 games this year and every time I was allowed to stand on the sidelines I was in Heaven. My thanks to all the coaches, athletic directors, and administrators who extended this privilege to the 1000 Yard Guy. I'll never know how to repay you, but I promise you this. I'll spend the rest of my living days promoting the finest sport there is: High School Football.