Today we feature four more defensive standouts that a rising junior star, one of Coach Larry Martin’s field leaders, one of Nebraska’s nastiest defensive dudes and the Renaissance Man of Class B Athletics you may not have heard of outside of Omaha.
Lights, curtain, Go.
*Kohl Herbolsheimer - Millard South - 6-4, 260, Junior (#75) Defensive End/OT
Herbolsheimer is one of those rare players that started as a Freshman in the Class A football ranks. Not many instances is a 9th grader big enough to earn a starting spot in the big boy class, especially in the D-Line. It’s often times a simple matter of just being a big son-of-a-gun for your age.
Herbolsheimer not only excelled as a freshman, but really showed marked improvement from that 2016 freshman season to his sophomore campaign a year ago. Kohl put on 15 pounds, grew a bit taller and frankly appeared to be a little meaner. He certainly was more aggressive his sophomore season, forcing turnovers and stalking the ball carrier with more regularity, which comes with experience.
Kohl can now bench 310 pounds, squat around 430 and run a 5 flat 40. And…..Ross Halford, a name everyone is familiar with, informs me that Mr. Herbolsheimer does indeed play with an attitude these days, which is intimidating to opponents when you dress out at 6-4 and 260 pounds.
Herbolsheimer does use his arms very well shedding blockers and if he can gain a quicker first step, his trips to the opposing backfield will become more effective, which is borderline scary right now.
I predict this Millard South defensive ace will have a couple of Division One offers in his hip pocket before the 2018 regular season is over. Tons of potential here.
*Malachi O’Neal - Omaha North - 6-2, 170, Senior (#7) Outside LB/SS
Another very smart football player developed during the season by the master himself, Coach Larry Martin. I swear, if we were talking about Chess here, you would have to put Larry Martin in the Grand Master category. The man is amazing at making players better as the season rolls along, and Malachi O’Neal is a shining example.
O’Neal may have improved as the 2017 season unfolded, but it appears that #7 was pretty well prepared coming into that opening Friday night at Buell versus Millard North a year ago. It’s almost as if Malachi was assigned to shadow Mustang quarterback Cade Elwood that night. O’Neal made many unwelcome visits to that Millard North backfield to the tune of a solo tackle, nine assists and an amazing 2.5 tackles for loss in his varsity debut.
The sparkling junior continued that pace all the way through last season, ending up with 79 tackles, 16 of which were solos. And over half of those solo stops resulted in losses.
Malachi O’Neal just plays with extreme football intelligence and is really a vocal leader to boot, which the Vikings will need on that defensive side of the ball this Fall.
And also consider the fact the kid was undersized (170 pounds?) for the linebacker position he was manning all last year. Kid played with a lot of heart.
Incidentally, it was Malachi’s two critical tackles late in the State Championship game against Kearney that held the Bearcats, forcing a late field goal, preventing a touchdown. And if you recall, following O’Neal’s heroics, Omaha North took it straight down the field to score the winning TD against Kearney, clinching another Class A football crown for the Vikings.
Malachi O’Neal is a Smart kid, and you will hear much more from #7 in 2018, and it could be from that strong safety position instead of linebacker. Stay tuned on that one.
*Sam Kolterman - Wahoo - 6-0, 190, Senior (#57) Middle Linebacker/OG
I may not have heard about Kohl Herbolsheimer playing on the mean side, but both Ross Halford and I know that Sam Kolterman may be the nastiest player around the Nebraska prep football circles.
Last season, Kolterman was a no-brainer for a Class C-1 All-State linebacker selection. The Wahoo stud racked up 114 total tackles, which included 66 solo stops, 18 tackles for losses and a school single season record 13 sacks. Slammin’ Sam also set the career record for sacks with 18 and the book isn’t closed on that one yet with a senior season on the horizon.
Kolterman also caused 6 fumbles in 2017, recovered one, and blocked three punts. THREE. The sweetest one of those came against Lincoln Christian when the Warrior All-Stater leaped over three Christian defenders, put a big paw up and batted the blocked punt back into the Crusader end zone. May have deflated the pigskin too.
The most vicious hit by Kolterman last season came in the Neumann game on a punt return. Slammin’ Sam met the dude head on going 60 MPH, picked him up and drove the sophomore return man into the ground. And incidentally, this young man was a very good football player for the Cavs.
They say big players come up big in big games, and Kolterman is the poster man for that statement.
Check this out these stats...Norfolk Catholic regular season game; 11 solos, 12 assists, 23 total tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sacks. Aquinas game; 9 solo stops, 12 assists and a recovered fumble. Norfolk Catholic C-1 semifinal loss: 12 solos, 5 assists, 4 TFL and three caused fumbles.
My conclusion is this….Slammin’ Sam Kolterman is a beast. And if you think guys like this don’t strike fear into the hearts of their opponents, think again. It’s called self-survival.
*Alex Rodgers - Omaha Roncalli - 6-1, 180, Senior (#5) Outside LB/QB/RB
Pure Athlete. And can you believe this young man has flown under the radar outside of the Omaha metro circles. Makes you scratch your head in disbelief.
In 2017 alone, Alex Rogers was an ALL-State Linebacker for the Crimson Pride, a 1000 yard rusher on offense, Honorable mention All-State player in basketball (13 ppg) and a unanimous Class B All-State selection in Baseball. And that excellence on the Diamond? Well, it earned Alex Rodgers a baseball scholarship offer from the University of Nebraska.
What makes this young man so special in football is the fact he only carried the ball in 8 games for Roncalli, yet rushed for 1,117 yards and 13 TDs. Against eventual state champion York (at their house), Alex escaped for 138 yards on 23 carries and a TD, drawing high praise from York coach Glen Snodgrass. But hold on. I thought Alex Rodgers was an All-State defensive player.
Indeed he was, and the mind-boggling deal on that selection was the fact Rodgers defensive stat sheet shows him playing defense in only SIX games, yet he made 70 tackles (33 solo, 37 assists) and logged 4 TFL, and made an interception. Oh yeah, in that York playoff game while playing defense, Alex made 8 solo tackles and added 7 assists.
What a complete player on both sides of the ball. Remarkable strength, as well as blinding speed. In that York 1st round playoff game, it literally took five Dukes to stop Rodgers forward motion on one particular 4th quarter carry. The dude just would not be tackled. The whistle finally stopped play because Rodgers forward progress was halted.
One of the reasons the Crimson Pride product was chosen as an All-State defender is his radar-like ability to know where the ball is at all times during the course of a game. The kid can cover an incredible amount of real estate to track down the ball carrier, and talk about form tackling! Rodgers puts on a clinic whenever he makes a stop.
In my opinion, Alex Rodgers is undeniably, one of Class B’s very best football players on either side of the ball. No doubt about it.