Let's hope the early November playoffs aren't like this!
*Eli Van Matre-Gibbon - 1,098 Jr. - Van Matre is a lightweight when he tips the scales, but the swivel-hipped, dancing halfback can leave you standing in your tracks and grabbing air. The 5-7, 160 pound Buffalo started as a Freshman at RB and linebacker and benefits by having one of the brightest young minds in coaching in Mark McLaughlin to tutor him. Every time I look at this kid I wonder how he takes the punishment.......easy, he never lets anyone get a clean shot at him. Gibbon graduated some key lineman from last year's playoff squad, but they do return all district Logan Oliver, 1 5-10, 250 ponder that McLaughlin says will be their senior leader. If the line matures like it should, Van Matre will have a shot at another thousand in 2011.
*J.D. Leonard-Garden County - 1,089 Yards - This 5-9, 165 pound back is a speed merchant. He was fast enough in May to anchor Garden County's 400 Meter Relay to a title in Class C. Leonard is one of those runners that is patient and has great vision. The Eagles are a running team year in and year out and have had twin 1000 yard rushers more than once. Leonard's buddy, J.R. Barnett has graduated, so his carries will probably increase this season. Leonard is the 17th Eagle since 1975 to hit the 1000 yard plateau.
*Andrew Vinton-North Platte St. Pats - 1,077 Yards - How good is St. Pats? Well, consider the fact they return most of their 2010 team that had St. Cecilia on the ropes until late in the 4th quarter in the C-2 semi final game. Not only that, but the Irish arguably have the best backfield in the state in Class C-2 with Vinton, Thatcher Vap, and QB Matt Jensen. Wanna know how tough Vinton is? He is an all-state candidate at DEFENSIVE END. Standing 6-1 and weighing a granite-like 190, Vinton is not a lot of fun to tackle or cross the line of defense and wait to swallow up a running back. And their coach Mark Dodson......don't get much better than that, period.
*Tyson Howard-Litchfield - 1,070 Yards Jr. - If you play for coach Dan Bolling up there in Litchfield, you know how to play the game....at any age. Bolling, a former Ravenna 1000 yard rusher, will push Sargent's Mike Kozeal for knowledge of the game. Tyson Howard is a big fella (65-0, 210) who started at quarterback as a freshman. He churned out 608 yards as a 9th grader and mostly all of that was up the gut. Litchfield has always battled numbers problems, but Bolling gets these guys ready to play every week. You can bet your last buck that Howard will be bigger, stronger, and better than he was a year ago, and that means another 1000 yards against a brutal schedule.
*Alex Gonzalves-Auburn - 1,058 Yards - Give this guy a tip of your ball cap for earning every one of his 1,058 yards. Auburn was only 3-5 a year ago and 1-7 in 2009, so Gonzalves not had a ton of help. The 175 pound Gonzalves is also a good D-Back and with a little better luck this season may be able to get another 1000 under his belt.
*Jordan Hyatt-Hershey - 1,044 Yards - You have to know how good Hyatt was last year to see that Cambridge and St. Pats were in their district. That some pretty stiff defenses to run through, I'd guess. A couple of pretty solid returning all-district lineman in Brian Steffes and Logan Brown and defensive back Trevor Otzel should make Hershey a nice team this Fall and increase Hyatt's chances of hitting some lofty rushing totals and another playoff spot.
*James Kruger-Norris - 1,032 Yards Jr. - Not a ton of sophomores gain a thousand yards in Class B, especially when you are playing teams like Crete, Beatrice, Ralston and Gretna. Last season, Kruger wasn't even mentioned in pre-season capsules, but I'm guessing he won't be flying under the radar in 2011. Loves to get the tough yards up the middle.
*Drew Solie-Maxwell - 1,028 Yards - Ever seen Drew Solie? Tough looking dude, man. At 5-9, 175, he must have been outstanding to get a thousand yards on a 3-5 team a year ago. A converted quarterback, Solie is also a standout at linebacker where he is also very adept at dropping back in pass coverage. It also helps when you have a coach like Ryan Jones who is 28-12 in his stint at Maxwell and that includes last year's 3-5 record. Solie is primed to have a huge season in 2011.
*Luke Glenn-Shelton - 1,012 Yards Jr. - How good is to see the Shelton Bulldogs excel on the football again? Seems like it's been a while since they have had a real nice team, but with players like the slippery, 5-9, 145 pound Glenn things are looking good again in 2011. Glenn is one of those backs that can slip through the tiniest of creases and be end zone bound the blink of an eye. All-District players from a season ago, Dylan Thyfault (LB), and lineman Lance Lyons return to help the Bulldogs in 2011. Glenn is a good one so expect some long runs for scores this season. An exiting runner to watch, like his counterpart 10 miles down the road, Van Matre.